On the Young Money posse cut Every Girl, Mack Maine rapped, In about three years, holla at me, Miley Cyrus. At the time, it was funny and seemingly absurd. Cyrus was a media darling, a product of the Walt Disney factory of disposable pop music and teen sitcoms. As those three years passed, however, the YM capo proved to be scarily prescient. Who knew?
Miley Cyrus is still very much in the media, but no longer is she anyones darling. Shes seen as the worst offender of cultural appropriation, taking twerking into the mainstream (for better or for worse), and portrayed as a molly-popping, sex-addled wild child. Cyrus infamous VMAs performance, in which she grinded on true cultural appropriator and groove-stealing crooner Robin Thicke, has been the height of her notoriety (so far), and gave rise to all sorts of outrage as well as launching a thousand memes. Its gotten to the point that Sinead OConnor wrote an open letter to Cyrus, urging her to not let the (men of) music industry prostitute her. (The two have since engaged in an unfortunate social media war.)
Of course, all this controversy is meaningless if there arent records to be sold, and it just so happens that Cyrus has a new record out, entitled Bangerz. Dont let the 80s-style, Miami Vice-ish cover art fool youBangerz is a pop record filtered through hip-hops current futuristic-strip-club-friendly sound. So, controversies and fake outrage aside, heres the real question: Is Bangerz any good?
To be honest, yes, it is. Take for instance first single We Cant Stop, produced by Mike Will Made It (who also, along with Cyrus, executive produced Bangerz). It was a monster summer song in a year when monster summer songs were aplenty. Brash, adventurous, and quietly crunk, We Cant Stop was the first sign that Cyrus new image wasnt just for show. Shes totally immersed herself in this new world shes exploring. Accuse her of musical tourism if you want, but shes clearly angling for genuine citizenship.
Cyrus also hits the right notes on Wrecking Ball, the second single, a power pop ballad that actually evokes real emotion. Its further proof that if Cyrus isnt just about shocking everyone with vulgar antics and mimicking hip-hop. Should anyone doubt whether she has the chops to take her career further, all they need to is refer back to this song.
Okay, the singles are hot, but rest assured the remainder of the album follows suit. Album opener Adore You is a pop ballad that finds Cyrus totally enamored, singing earnestly of love and marriage. The ubiquitous (and dubious R&B star) Future lends a helping hand on the strangely affecting My Darlin, which contains an odd interpolation to Ben E. Kings classic Stand By Me that nevertheless works. Though at times it seems Future drowns her out, Cyrus gives a great performance here.
Of course, the album isnt all love songs and slow jamsit aint called Bangerz for nothing. Get into the groove of the Pharrell-produced, Bonnie-and-Clyde tale 4×4, a collabo with country boy Nelly that almost seems to take cues from Gwen Stefanis Wind It Up (which Pharrell crafted for Stefanis The Sweet Escape back in 2006). And the bouncy, guitar-driven, Twitter-ready jam #GETITRIGHT gives Pharrell two-for-two. Whistle while you twerk.
Cyrus and Britney Spears trade rap-influenced verses (How do I keep a man?/I keep a battery pack) over the electro-rap production of SMS (Bangerz). Its that get-ready-for-the-club type jam, one that could surprisingly find its way onto Hot 97s Friday night playlists. Big
Yawn Sean tries his best to ruin the woozy, boozy Love Money Party, but thankfully the infectious hook, intoxicated production, and Cyrus rapid-fire cadence keep the party going.
But the moment of truth arrives in the form of Do My Thing, Cyrus anthemic declaration of independence in which she states, Im a suh-Southern belle/Crazier than hell/Gettin wild up in here/Gettin loud up in here/Burnin up, up in here/Turnin up, up in here. The turn up is augmented by will.i.ams production, which apes Mike Wills signature handclap-and-atomic kick drum percussion and blends it with his own EDM sensibilities. Turn down for what?
Production across the board is stellar. The knob-turners knew this was a huge project, and everyone brought their A-game. In addition to Mike Will, Pharrell, and will.i.am, the album features co-production from Dr. Luke, Cirkut, Marz, and P-Nasty.
Were there no celebrity antics or controversies to speak of, Miley Cyrus name would still be on everyones lips. Bangerz is a very good pop album, one in the mold of Janet Jacksons Control, another album about a young woman coming into her own and asserting herself. Sound crazier than hell? Well, know thisthis Southern belle wont stop, and more importantly, cant stop.
We Cant Stop
Do My Thing
4×4 (feat. Nelly)
My Darlin (feat. Future)