Reluctant Townie: Still achin' and breakin' after all these years
In a move that no one anticipated — because chaos theory states we cannot predict the outcome of a complex system such as what Billy Ray Cyrus will do when rent's on the line — last week the world welcomed the release of a hip-hop sequel to Billy Ray Cyrus' 1992 chart topper/toe tapper/boot stomper "Achy Breaky Heart."
The sequel, concisely titled "Achy Breaky 2," was first announced on New Year's Eve via Larry King's Twitter account. (Not a joke.)
"Just spoke with @billyraycyrus on the phone — he's recorded a hip-hop version of 'Achy Breaky Heart' — he's excited about it & so am I!" wrote King, a man who, one can only assume, does not use exclamation points superfluously.
King makes an appearance at the top of "Achy Breaky 2," introducing the proceedings with a "War of the Worlds"-style faux news report that comprises nearly a third of the video's brisk three-minute running time. In it, King informs viewers that a spaceship has been spotted hovering over the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky.
Cut to: BRC walking through the forest with a young African-American child. Why are they walking through the Kentucky wilderness together — Cyrus dressed in leather with a guitar slung over his shoulder like a jukebox hero, and the child carrying a fishing pole? Do they know each other? Or did they happen to converge side-by-side on this trail, by chance, just moments before we joined them?
The audience is barely given time to ponder these questions before BRC and his unlikely fishing companion are zapped by a tractor beam and teleported into a spaceship populated with "aliens" that are roughly the same age as BRC's IRL daughter, Miley.
The pilot of the spaceship and apparent leader of the scantily clad aliens — "clothed" in a giant rubber band and shattered pieces of a disco ball — even sports a strikingly similar platinum blonde pompadour as Miley.
Clearly, we are meant to draw parallels. It is unclear whether Billy Ray is aware of what those parallels are.
As BRC's woods-walkin' companion is beamed into the ship's transportation bay, he instantaneously (in a literal puff of smoke) ages 30 years and becomes rapper Buck 22.
Billy Ray Cyrus shows no adverse effects of the transportation, arriving with not only his guitar, sunglasses, black leather coat and sleeveless T-shirt intact — but also sporting a happening silk scarf I had not previously noticed.
Quickly, the two are pulled out of the transportation bay by PG-13-level naked alien chicks and led into the cargo bay.
At this point, we are finally treated to the opening salvo of "Achy Breaky 2."
The familiar melody is whistled
"How did this happen?" Billy Ray asks, over some generic dubstep nonsense.
Rapper Buck 22, now sans fishing pole, uses the first verse to answer that very question:
"It happened cause I happened to meet up with Billy Cyrus
"It happened cause I rang the alarm and broke the silence
"It happened cause I'm sippin' on that good Kentucky whiskey
"It happened because I'd rather be lucky, than good".
Through this lyrical insight, Buck 22 confirms everything that our guts told us about the inspiration behind "Achy Breaky 2": somebody must've been drunk.
That (admittedly) drunk person was Buck 22 — rapper and producer of "Achy Breaky 2." He is clearly in this for the press, as witnessed in his third and final verse:
"I've been next to BRC, up on TMZ
"Everybody wonderin' who I am
"Miley keeps twerkin', daddy's song is workin'
"Now Billy sing that crazy hook again."
At which point, BRC offers up his sole creative contribution to "Achy Breaky 2." a shout out to his daugher's current, massively popular radio single.
"Wrecking ball!" Billy Ray shouts.
BRC spends the rest of the video trying his best to look like Mac from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," anchoring his trademark soul patch to a lightly-committed lumberjack beard, and strumming wildly at his guitar, despite the absence of any discernable guitar work on the audio track. To aid him in this ridiculousness is a naked alien lady playing an electric fiddle — also unrepresented on the audio track.
The length of the song, from intro to outro, clocks in at just under 2-1/2 minutes. While some may interpret this as a sign of diminished return on the source material, ultimately the short length is revealed to be a compassionate act of mercy on behalf of the listener.
The world was not ready for an extended hip-hop take on anything from BRC's repertoire. And god willing, it will never have to be.
As a sequel, "Achy Breaky 2" is at least on par with "Mannequin Two: On the Move" — it doesn't disrespect the original too much, given there was never that much to respect.
As an enduring work of popular culture, I fear that "Achy Breaky 2" will be forgotten by this time next year. Or month. Or week.
At the time of this writing, "Achy Breaky 2" had more than 6.5 million views on Youtube, 14,000 "thumbs up", and 40,000 "thumbs down." Ryan Jackson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.