Miley Cyrus

RCA, 2013

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


I generally don’t consider myself to be a prude and would like to think I have an open mind when it comes to most things. But I will not lie, Miley’s performance on the VMAs shocked the hell out of me. It is not often that sort of behavior is seen on live television in front of millions upon millions of people, at least in the Post Janet Jackson era.

The days of hand wringing and cries of moral depravity that followed certainly made it seem like she had not anticipated such a reaction, and it seemed like it could not possibly bode well for Cyrus in the slightest. Richard Simmons cried for her, FOX News thought of the children, and Robin Thicke was traumatized for the rest of his life (don’t believe me? Watch his facial expressions over the course of the song).

The whole incident clearly was meant to be the final nail in the coffin of Hannah Montana. Cyrus’ Disney persona had served her quite well for the bulk of her career, but as so often happens with our female pop stars, that squeaky clean image starts to wear on them. The mind immediately jumps to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, who both made television and musically based choices to dirty up their image. For god’s sake, Spears French kissed Madonna for what we all should realize were the same reasons Miley did what she did. What we should have taken away from the whole ordeal was that Cyrus wanted to make her point as plainly as possible that Bangerz was the start of something different.

One might take a look at themy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Miami Vice inspired cover to Bangerz and assume that it was a retro-tinged record that reveled in the sounds of the ‘80s. The reality is that Bangerz is a Pollock painting of an album. Cyrus tries a little bit of everything and while some of it definitely doesn’t work, it’s an encouraging change in direction for her. There is potential moving forward as long as she makes a few stylistic changes.

For example, bringing in flavors of hip-hop to the record definitely weakens Bangerz. “Love Money Party” and “Do My Thang” find a performer failing at being able to adapt to a musical style that is not her strength; any section of this record where Cyrus attempts her hand at rapping falls flat on its face. Instead, I found the neo-soul performance of “FU” to be much more satisfying, as well the dance infused hoedown “4x4.

The least successful elements of this record would be what I would call “Attention-Seeking Miley.” When she turns the focus of the album onto herself and does a little self-promotion, it’s just not interesting. It’s nice that you’re a “Southern belle and crazier than hell,” but you can only reinforce the point so many times before I dont care. By the time the listener gets to a track like “Do My Thang,” Miley has clearly established herself as a party girl who will do what she wants when she wants and everything else is just different shades of that lifestyle. Now alternatively, “We Can’t Stop” hits a lot of the same bullet points but in a more universal sense that isn’t Cyrus-centric and that track works with that approach.

It’s the slower moments of Bangerz that showcase the most humanizing performances from Cyrus, instead of those that see her developing whatever she wants her image to project these days. “Adore You,” “Wrecking Ball,” “My Darlin’” all are united by common threads involving love and loss, and probably the three best tracks of the record. Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball” vocals in particular deserve recognition: the sense of devastation and heartbreak is palpable and proves that given the right circumstances, Miley can actually deliver a great vocal.

When you ignore the wailing and gnashing of teeth that is now associated with Cyrus and remember to take the music on its own merits, Bangerz showcased a legitimate young talent who will be interesting to follow as she develops into the adult-minded portion of her musical life. This sort of career is not necessarily a long and successful one, but Cyrus seems to have a mindset in which she’s going to go all out in trying. Go for it, Miley.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.