Album: Miley Cyrus – “Bangerz” (2013)

Time to get through some of the albums on my iPod now so I can get my Christmas playlist in rotation. I’ve already gone over Katy Perry’s “Prism” and Lady Gaga’s “Artpop” but one pop phenomenon beat both of them out of the gates with a summer of promo that both acts would have killed for. Twerking her way into pop culture legend, tongue thrashing wildly, Miley become the latest in a long line of teen stars gone wild.

miley cyrus bangerzWith several high-profile performances, it seemed that Miley was on track to win big with new album “Bangerz”. The album has performed well so far, but in a depressed global album market it’s easy to feel that maybe more was expected. I think that’s just how things are these days, but she still shifted a quarter of a million albums on home soil in the first week, and that’s certainly nothing to sniff at.

07 Adore you – A bit strange to kick off an album of bangerz with such a downtempo track. It’s sort of quite nice, I just think the melody is a bit drab. The chorus is nice, but I don’t like that “I adooooore you-ou-ou-ou-ouuu” hook, the vocals are just a bit too leaden and boring.

08 We can’t stop – After the initial horror of the video – which I saw several times at the gym before even hearing the gym – this has grown on me too. I mean the rebellious youngster message has been done to death but parts of this are really quite sweet. Love that “la-da-di-da-di” bit, but again the vocals are just so lazy. But it’s certainly going to be one of 2013’s milestones either way.

08 SMS (Bangerz) – Time for something upbeat – how did it take so long on an album called “Bangerz”? Britney joins in for the fun in a track that puts me in mind of her “Do somethin” track nearly a decade a go. It’s not exactly a vocal onslaught from either party but it’s quite fun in a total trashy way. Total nonsense.

09 4×4 – I really like this one, a nice sort of contemporary bit of slutty country with Nelly on featured vocals. It’s a big slutty barn-dance of a song, and finally it seems something that suits Miley’s vocals, with a spark of a connection there finally. Love that middle-eight “A little bit of dirt never hurt nobody, and now I got dirt all over my body”.

04 My Darlin – And back down to the midtempos, I don’t get it. Perhaps she means bangerz in the sense of run-down old cars that take ages to get started. Following that line, “My Darlin” is a burnt-out shell of a car. A lazy, dreary re-imagining of “Stand by me”, really painful. I don’t know who guesting rapper Future is, but I’d be pleased never to hear him again.

10 Wrecking ball – Now this is more like it. Only really hit me the other day how much of a crossover track this is, certainly the most indelible mark made by this album campaign, and probably her whole career. Timed perfectly after the chaos after her VMA performance for “We can’t stop” and with its own controversial video. But it’s also a great song, who knew? This is lightning striking on this album, and I get the feeling it’s not going to strike twice.

03 Love money party – More horrific wigga drivel, really terrible. She’s rapping away about the emptiness of money and partying – I think – or is she embracing it anyway like I think rap culture do. Just a mess, horrible.

06 #GETITRIGHT – Well at least this sounds like it might end up being a pop song of sorts. It feels a bit insubstantial, not sure why it’s got a hashtag either. When the mumbling verses are over, the chorus is quite decent but this whole song never quite gets off the ground.

07 Drive – Without changing her sleepy tone of voice, this one somehow sounds a bit more powerful. With a relationship breaking down, Miley banishes her lover to drive away out . It’s frustrating, I feel like I just can’t understand her, and that this could have been a song with some real clout like “Wrecking Ball”, but something is (and always seems to be) missing.

07 FU – This is a bit more like it, an extravagant and kitschy ballad about a good-for-nothing lover being given his marching orders. Imagine if Pink had done this, maybe it would have been much better. Who is French Montana? Not a great rapper, whoever he is. A decent stab at a song finally, but… not quite.

08 Do my thang – Don’t want to pre-judge on a song title but… Actually going to some basic Nicki Minaj rip-off isn’t a bad choice, with some unexpected undertones of Madonna’s “Girl Gone Wild” in the production. The chorus is decent, I just think it’s going to suddenly go all uptempo but it never does. But still one of the better tracks on here. Just.

07 Maybe you’re right – How can I describe this? A watered-down and shouty reflection of Bruno Mars’s “Just the way you are” perhaps. The tone is different, she’s dumping someone and defending her position. I think I might just not like her voice that much unfortunately. There’s some tenderness in there and a rare spark of real emotion, particularly in the middle-eight.

05 Someone else – How to finish an album like this? How about more annoying vocal strains? But this time there is a possibility of some trashy EDM to make a real banger finally but no, there’s just more mid-tempo urban plodding. If only she would turn into someone else, clearly I’m not connecting with her this time around.

So there we are. Oddly enough, while I had been listening to this album over the last few weeks I had been sort of enjoying it. But I was doing other things at the same time, and so “Bangerz” evidently didn’t really hold up to closer examinations. I don’t like her scattergun choices of genres, her half-asleep vocal style puncuated by yelling the ‘glory notes’.

Sure, “Bangerz” has already made its impact with those two huge singles, so I doubt this campaign is going to go down as a failure or anything, but it’s certainly not convinced me that Miley’s new direction is much more than a product of ‘right place, right time’ and shock tactics to rack up YouTube views. But I’d be pleased to be shown otherwise.

Keepers for the iPod: We can’t stop, Wrecking ball, 4×4

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