Bangerz: Success by Rebellion

The name Miley Cyrus can’t be spoken today without a series of visceral images being generated in one’s head: her promiscuous VMA performance and raw Wrecking Ball music video being high on the list. The public has been quite unforgiving in its critique of Miley, however one can’t deny that she’s achieving exactly what every celebrity wants: fame and success. Her two officially released singles from her 4th studio album, Bangerz, are numbers two and seven on the iTunes top 10 chart, and the hype surrounding its release on October 8th has been building for weeks. The album is available for listen on iTunes radio, and while Miley’s artistic choices don’t always pay off into a stellar track, the overall album stands for itself as new, rebellious, and just plain catchy.

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The first track is titled “Adore You,” and is no doubt an ode to her failed four-year relationship with Liam Hemsworth. The song is slow moving and accompanied by a variety of instruments under her auto-tuned crooning. It is an emotionally mature track, and shows a deeper side of Miley. This song is offset by the second track, the well-known “We Can’t Stop.” It is the epitome of a hit pop single, and the perfect summer anthem. The catchiness is undeniable, as you can find out by simply listening to it once, and its message of teenage revolution allows it to resonate with Miley’s audiences.

The third track is Miley’s duet with Britney Spears, titled “SMS (Bangerz)”. Miley raps at top speed during this track, and Britney joins with ridiculous lyrics such as “I’m flying high up on a bird like a phobiac/My slick quarter, eye down my purse, where the dollars at?” A combination of these two pop queens could never completely flop, and while a little bit over the top, it’s a feel-good song you shouldn’t skip over.

The fourth track, “4x4”, features Nelly, and has a little bit of a country twang that, while could’ve gone horribly wrong, is somehow successfully executed.  The more you listen to it, the more you’ll want to listen again. Her 5th track, “My Darling”, features Future and perhaps that is the problem. It could’ve been a beautiful ballad, however, Future’s drawl ends up only distracting from the actual song.

Next is, in my opinion, the best track on this album. While the music video may be controversial, “Wrecking Ball” is a raw, blunt look at the destruction a relationship can cause. Miley pleads, “I never meant to start a war/I just wanted you to let me in/I guess I should have let you in.” This song is Miley stripped down to raw emotions, and it will have you listening on repeat and humming throughout your day.

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After the best comes the worst. “Love Money Party” is no doubt the worst track on Bangerz; it is all over the place, full speed, and uncontrolled. Big Sean does nothing to help this track, and its place seems more for a rave club where no one is really listening anyway. Next, the 8th track, “#getitright” is produced by Pharrel (of recent “Blurred Lines” fame). It is a fun, catchy track complete with a mellow beat and whistling.

The next, titled “Drive” is another intense ballad, and while not quite as compelling the others such as “Wrecking Ball” or “Adore You” still is worth something in its slow pace and emotional lyrics. The 10th track, FU featuring French Montana, showcases Miley’s ability to belt. She spits out the lyrics passionately with an intense piano background, and French Montana’s brief appearances give her and us a break from the crooning.

The 11th track is titled “Do My Thang” and it is here that Miley’s fearlessness takes center stage. She is absurd in her lyrics, but utterly respectable for presenting them with such pride and authority. “Bang bitch, you think I’m strange bitch? Ge-gets bananas like a fuckin’ ‘rangutan bitch.” The chorus here is catchy, and while parts of the verses might be slightly over the top, she’s “doing her thang” after all, and we can’t judge her for that.

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The 12th track, “Maybe You’re Right” is all about a deteriorating romance story, quite clearly a reference to her own. She is reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson here, and the audiences get to hear a higher vocal register quite different than her usual low tones. It reminds us that while Miley can put on a great performance, she is also a talented singer.

Bangerz ends with “Somebody Else,” again notably for an incredibly catchy chorus and a great dance beat. This final song on the standard edition of the album is appropriate to end with because it speaks about her reinvention and dismissal of past self. Miley knows she has changed, and she’s proud of who whe has become.

This album makes it even harder to characterize Miley as one type of artist, with the country influences, dance beats, and crooning ballads. However, what can be said is that Bangerz is a totally artistic exploration into her complex personality, and one that has captivated our attention— whether we like it or not. While not all the tracks could stand alone, the album together should be hailed for being something purely created out of instinct and for the sake of expression. Miley didn’t conform to any standards with Bangerz, and yet she has still achieved success. What more could an artist want?

Images via Tumblr.

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Jacqueline Carney