Surely, no one has sparked more controversy in the past two months than Miley Cyrus. Her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards is the most tweeted-about event in history. But why? It may be that, as a recording artist, Cyrus doesn’t have much going for her besides being a talking point.
Miley’s new album, Bangerz, is a disorganized, bland piece of dance pop. It appears that the new, grown-up Cyrus wants to compete with pop behemoths Rihanna and Katy Perry by imitation, yet she falls short. Miley, like Rihanna, collaborates with something of a next-generation T-Pain named Future; but whereas Rihanna’s “Loveeeeeee Song” was a standout, Miley’s “My Darlin’” is a disaster. If anything, Bangerz is a poor carbon copy of Rihanna’s Unapologetic.
“My Darlin’” is one of many songs that feels sloppy and cheap, much like Cyrus’ image. Mike Will Made It, hip-hop producer of the moment and executive producer of Bangerz, created the worst songs on the album, including “SMS” (featuring the “original Miley,” Britney Spears) and “Love Money Party” (featuring Big Sean). The production is cluttered and sloppy, which is disappointing as Will produced such hits as G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy” and Juicy J’s “Bandz A Make Her Dance.” This weak effort shows that dance pop may not be his forte.
Ironically, Will produced the best song on the album, the lead single, “We Can’t Stop.” Sadly, this is as lyrically “good” as the album gets. If you haven’t heard it by now, “We Can’t Stop” became the summer’s infectiously catchy party song.
The opener, “Adore You,” is another standout, a simple love song with an understated beat by Oren Yoel, best known for producing Asher Roth’s “I Love College.” The ubiquitous Pharrell produced “#GETITRIGHT,” an ode to sex similar to his 2013 monster, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
The rest of the album is uninspired. “4×4” is a country-style song, a throwback to the Miley’s Hannah Montana moment, with a Nelly feature that suggests why she dropped the image. “FU” sounds like a reject from The Great Gatsby soundtrack. French Montana does nothing to make it better. “Wrecking Ball,” the second single now infamous for its music video, is incredibly catchy. However, the lyrics are even more of the bland, evidence that all the production was pumped into the chorus.
At this point, Cyrus’ career is much more about shock value and image than it is about music; the buzz may not be worth the conversation. Long split with Disney, Cyrus is trying to control her image and the conversation by running as far from her former self, albeit without much creativity—twerking existed long before she showed up with a foam finger. Miley follows in the towering heels of Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Madonna, female pop stars who used edginess and shock value to garner attention. However, these artists have music, talent, and ingenuity.
Also out this week: Danny Brown’s Old, Pusha T’s My Name Is My Name and Diplo’s Revolution EP.