As frustrating as I find her to be, I almost feel sorry for Miley Cyrus. Almost— because after all, she has been a famous millionaire for the majority of her life. With that comes all the perks of fame and fortune: being the center of attention, having people be at your beck and call, and getting to do practically whatever you want. Though as we’ve seen time and time again, none of that proves to be enough for a child star. They always have something to prove, notably when they see their star fading as they inch closer towards adulthood. They typically do whatever it takes to earn additional shine in an effort to safely stay in the only space they’ve known.
No one needs a reminder on how desperate Cyrus has shown herself to be in convincing you that she’s no longer Hannah Montana. It’s downright embarrassing to see her make so many weed jokes or reference sex in some campy fashion, damn near begging us to call her bad ass. That said, I don’t agree with the running theory that her career is over. For starters, her last album, Bangerz, did go platinum. We needn’t forget she’s only 22, by the way.
Oh, and for all her theatrics, she’s actually talented. That’s probably what’s most grating about Miley Cyrus: she doesn’t have to do half the nonsense she engages in. It’s one thing you notice from her new free album, Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz. And yes, it is nonsense. We’re not being prudish. Quite the contrary. It’s that those of us over a certain age – say, above 25 – have seen it all and seen it done far more salaciously and with purpose (not to mention better).
In a New York Times report about the making of Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz, producer Mike WiLL claims of Cyrus, “Why would she drop another Bangerz? Miley is the new Madonna.” Oh hell no. Cyrus may think she’s like Madonna. There may even be people she pays to lie to her about being like Madonna. Still, making endless weed jokes or standing around butt ass naked constantly a Madonna not make.
Madonna was provocateur, but she was tackling real issues that resulted in genuine backlash. She spoke about gay rights and AIDS awareness, was an advocate for expressions of female sexuality in its rawest forms, among other issues. She drew the ire of the Catholic Church, uptight politicians, and if you remember the reactions to her SEX book, even some consumers. Cyrus is like a teenager with a fake ID, drunk at a college party living out all of the scenarios she’s only seen in crappy movies.
Madonna is also, above all, a masterful pop music maker. Sure, she’s adapted sounds and aesthetics through the years, but at her peak – and that lasted for a very long time – she always played to her strengths.
Cyrus still needs to learn that. Her voice fits better on songs like her duet with Ariana Grande, a cover of “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”
You can also add her cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”
The same goes for tracks on her new project such as “Space Boots,” “Karen Don’t Be Sad,” and “The Floyd Song (Sunrise).” Her country roots make her a natural storyteller, not to mention a certain type of singer. Her voice fits much better on the aforementioned songs as opposed to songs like “Dooo It” in which she goes on and on about weed.
As I listened, all I could think was, girl, grannies smoke weed in states where it’s legalized. You’re not convincing anyone here. Ditto for “Bang Me Box,” a song about lesbian sex. It’s not the raunchiness that’s bothersome; it’s the realization that you know Cyrus is purposely trying to provoke, once again trying to convince of you something. Like, “See?! See?! I’m so gay! And I like vagina.”
Whoopity doo, sis.
But even when she misses the mark on Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz, Cyrus manages to overall offer you something intriguing to soak in. Trouble for is, she’s clueless about what that is. Interestingly enough, Cyrus told the New York Times, “This music was not meant to be a rebellion. It was meant to be a gift.”
The sooner she realizes the rebellion she’s declared on her past is getting in the way of her music, the better gift her music will be.