In recent years, the Disney-fication of pop radio has become somewhat rampant. At least when the Mickey Mouse crew hit the airwaves, they were somewhat removed from their Mousekateer ears and had an opportunity to transition in a somewhat normal life before thrusting themselves back into the pop culture machine. As that gestation period has become almost non-existent in recent years, we are going to bear witness to an increasing number of these kids will be going through the same growing pains which Miley has been enduring for the past couple of years. Who knows where she is going to end up once the rebellion ceases, but right now we’re in the thick of it and she is determined to throttle those reigns through to the end.
At some point during the recording of Miley’s latest “effort” Bangerz, there had to be at least one non-sycophant in that room who tried to reason with Ms. Cyrus before the androgynous album art was presented, or tracks such as “4 x 4” or “SMS (Bangerz)” were committed to the binary ethos. At least one would hope there was a voice of reason who tried to pipe up and may have ended up on the unemployment line before all was said and done. Now, before anyone accuses me of picking low hanging fruit, I was fully prepared to sit down and argue the merits of Miley on the grounds of singing and songwriting, especially after her recent two musical performances on SNL (if you haven’t watched her acoustic version of “Wrecking Ball” – you should, and then you’ll be further perplexed). “Wrecking Ball” would be a decent track if the chorus was more subdued, it’s Miley’s need to power through (read: shout) it, the intro to that song reminds me a lot of Tori Amos of all people.
There’s no arguing that thanks in large part to the production team “We Can’t Stop” is ridiculously catchy and the video incited a near riot (and inspired a fantastic parody/companion piece entitled “We Did Stop (The Government)”), but how much of that can be attributed back to Miley is up for debate. Bangerz will be an album which will ride the 4-5 singles to the top of the charts, while the remaining 8-9 tracks are derivative, forgettable and largely terrible. The frustrating thing is that the last twos tracks “Maybe You’re Right” and “Someone Else” appear to be the ghosts of what could be, as they appear to showcase the artist that Miley could (have been?) be, as her career could be rooted in the modern country realm where I believe she would have great success, but instead she wants to indulge the notion that she has something to offer the hip-hop/rap community. There has been talk recently over the depiction of hip-hop culture in Lorde’s track “Royals” which some have been calling racist (an arugment which I largely disagree with), however I do feel that her appropriation of hip-hop culture is tantamount to performing some of these songs in black face. This album is in large part, far more offensive than Lorde’s drawn parallel between hip-hop iconography and royalty.
Ultimately Bangerz is an album that is aimed at a demographic far away from where I actually exist, and I understand it was never meant for me, but I will still contend that if you can strip away the buckets of pretense that Mr. Cyrus felt she should steep herself in, the entire MVA foam finger fiasco, the Tongue, Twerking and her need to be a hyper sexualized individual who I would imagine has managed to make Madonna blush at least once, then you could actually see that she could be a talented singer songwriter, but the current shtick is far too distracting for anyone to see anything else than the train wreck in progress. This is an album that has a couple of singles which will keep it aloft for months to come, but if you can, you’re best to steer clear and let the rebellion burn out elsewhere.