Rufus Wainwright Calls Miley Cyrus, Madonna Collaboration 'Horrifying'

"The overtones were way undertoned," songwriter says with a laugh

Madonna and Miley Cyrus perform
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for MTV
Madonna and Miley Cyrus perform in Hollywood.
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Rufus Wainwright had some pointed words about Miley Cyrus and Madonna's surprise collaboration at the former's MTV Unplugged performance in January, telling The Guardian it was "one of the most horrifying things I've seen in my life."

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Done up in rhinestone cowboy duds, Cyrus and Madonna busted out a mashup of each other's songs: "Don't Tell Me" from Madge's 2000 album Music and Cyrus' chart-topper "We Can't Stop" off her 2013 LP Bangerz. While the two tracks lent themselves well to each other, Wainwright said of the performance: "It was really, I don't know, the overtones were way undertoned [laughs]. I just need a little bit more in my life than that."

Despite the criticism, Wainwright did compliment Cyrus' vocal talents and offered a reasonable take on how her influence and popularity could affect younger kids. "I have a daughter and she's 3 so I'm beginning to develop more protective instincts concerning her chastity and so forth, but on the other hand I do feel like kids today are incredibly smart," Wainwright said. "They have a sensibility that is about survival and lasting. Growing up with this amount of negative energy about the environment and politics and pornography or whatever, you've got to be really smart to survive. I'm into challenges and these kids are being challenged."

The songwriter also mentioned he's been working on music for film, and is set to start penning an opera about the Roman Emperor Hadrian, which will premiere in 2018. Wainwright also spoke about his own music — much of which was collected on the recent compilation, Vibrate: The Best of Rufus Wainwright — and his penchant for airing grievances in songs, even about his family. "I have always tried to maintain a positive spin on any negative song I've written, so there's some silver lining," Wainwright said. "I let [sister] Martha do all the dirty work because she does not hold back, that woman."