Text by – DAVIDE LANDOLFI
Translation by – JULIA PERRY
From a young girl with personality disorders to a provocative and out of control twenty year old: what happened in Miley Cyrus’ life is no mystery, but having been a child prodigy, discovered and launched by Disney, this artistic journey is certainly not surprising, especially since, three years ago, a cryptic Can’t Be Tamed foreshadowed her career’s turning point (always wearing less and less clothing).
Nothing new since then, other than the fact that the Cyrus case is somewhat incredible.
Practically fished out from the back burner five months ago, the pop world seems unable to do without what Miley (or whoever else) recently concocted, a plan of overexposure to the media that would even make the golden age Lady Gaga jealous: between a twerk too many, the discovery of language as a living organ, to television appearances on the world’s most important TV talk shows.
In short, Cyrus has complete control over magazine covers, television programs, the charts (Wrecking Ball is the first American number 1), so it can be safely said that Bangerz is without a doubt the album of the year.
After three years of staying out of the music spotlight, this fourth album shows the former Disney starlet in a more down and dirty south hip-hop way, while still staying true to her pop and country roots.
Let me be clear, listening to Bangerz may not make you want to cry out as if it were some sort of music miracle (other pop stars have already explored the territories of urban/hip-hop/R&B), but the quality of the album in itself shows an artist who isn’t only tongue and hammers. Miley has grown up. She’s matured.
Bangerz is a time bomb ready to explode, where each track has the potential and credentials to become a hit single.
Adore You is the first track, a halfway point between a ballad and baby-making song, where the arches and the piano transmit ecstasy and pathos where the sweetness of the piece and Cyrus’ provocative image collide, without disorienting the listener: but if talking about Miley Cyrus, the praising lasts little.
We Can’t Stop permanently introduces what is an urban atmosphere with a touch of pop flavor: festive and melancholic, this first single was a real smash, the best pop song of 2013.
It continues with SMS (Bangerz) feat. Britney Spears, the most anticipated track of the album. The explicitly urban beat and the first hints of rap, flavored by Spears’ addition, suggest the sounds that Britney proposed to her album Blackout 6 years ago, proposing although an unusual, as well as distinguished, collaboration. It works, but isn’t too convincing: unlike the featuring of Nelly in 4 × 4, by the hypnotic synth-country sound, and My Darlin’ with Future, where the sampling of the more famous Stand By Me gives the piece an astonishing hip-hop sophistication.
Wrecking Ball deserves a merit all on its own, a ballad from the 80’s, redundant, repetitive and poignant, Love Money Party feat. Big Sean, worthy of the most respectful urban/R&B productions, #GetItRight, produced by the now omnipresent Pharrell Williams, that seems all too familiar (basically a copy/paste of Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke or Get Lucky by Daft Punk) but oddly enough, works. Then we have Drive, a midway between Rihanna and Kanye West’s production of Unapologetic and FU feat. French Montana, a response to the almost circus-like sounding performances.
The ‘underground” sounds can really be heard in Do My Thang, where the rapping becomes more convincing and Miley is finally transformed into a real R&B singer, but it is precisely when the direction of Bangerz seems to be all figured out that it changes with Maybe You’re Right, a song that allures to a European march that could easily stand up against even the most indie productions by Fun and similar bands.
Concluding the album is Someone Else, EDM in its purest state in what is, by definition, the club-banger of this 2013.
As an opener to the deluxe edition there is Rooting For My Baby, a pop sound of the early 2000s. It continues with On My Own, which alone is worth much, if not more, than the entire album, where you experience heavy musical influences (Daft Punk, Gossip, The Stripes), unusual for a pop album. It ends with Hands In The Hair feat. Ludacris, that reaffirms the status quo of the rapper/singer reached by Cyrus in what could very well be a piece by Wiz Khalifa.
16 tracks that in no way point to novelty, but elevate it all to a concept that is more adult, more brazen, that attracts, bewitches: Bangerz may seem like a disc without rhyme nor reason, but it works without too many hitches and severe slips, between frantic beats and an excelled use of vocals. Behind disconcerting performances and a look at the brink of vulgarity, there lies a hardly negligible artistic gear like a ticking time bomb, ready to explode and Miley Cyrus, being the fuse, has just been lit.