Thursday, October 10, 2013

Miley Cyrus: Bangerz – reviewed.

If Miley were in The Brady Bunch, Jan would definitely be saying, “Miley! Miley! Miley!”

She stole the attention away from the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes – or any other celebrity for that matter – for most of the past two months.

For every two people bashing Miley Cyrus’ more adult behavior, there’s one of her fanatics defending her every action and someone in their 30’s saying, ‘Leave her alone. She’s just being young.’

To me that’s kind of a cop out. I know a lot of people who didn’t do what she was doing when they were 20.

I don’t necessarily have anything against it. If she wants to swing in, naked, on a wrecking ball, that’s cool. I get it. She’s naked – open to harm and disappointment and heartbreak.

Licking sledgehammers? That’s done to get attention. I don’t find Miley to be a sexpot, but she’s not ugly by any means. Maybe there are older teenage boys or guys in their early 20’s who are raging horny over Miley.

I don’t know that they’re going to go out and buy her album, but she’d probably be able to sell out a newsstand full of Maxim magazines if she’s on the cover.

This week the music had the chance to back up all the hoopla that’s been surrounding her lately. In some cases it did. In other cases, there wasn’t much substance present.

Miley may be modeling her look off of Madonna, but she’s not modeling her sound after Madonna. She’s definitely not Katy Perry or Avril or Britney or any other female pop act out there.

She’s more of a female Bruno Mars than any of the other female singers.

Adore You

Miley’s first outing on Bangerz is a ballad. It’s an unusual song. There doesn’t really seem to be a high point to the song. It’s got a fairly slow melody and the lyrics didn’t get much further than, “When you say you need me, no I need you more. Boy, I ado-o-o-o-re you-u-u-u-u.”

Miley’s voice sounds nice (almost like Rihanna). It’s just not very catchy.

We Can’t Stop

This is a catchy track, no doubt. If you overlook the drug references, it could be taken as a song about liberation and standing proud against those who try to set limits on you.

The way Miley portrays it is more rebellious and in your face than it probably needs to be.

Regardless of the message, it's a song with an awesome sound and, even though it's several months old already, it's still fun to nod your head to.

SMS (Bangerz) (featuring Britney Spears)

This could be described as Miley’s version of Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It.” It’s got a very similar vibe.

Miley lets us know (over and over again), “I be struttin’ my stuff.”

Britney Spears chimes in, reminding us all that she’s the least vocally talented mega-superstar there is in the music industry.

Thankfully this mess of a song that seems more like a GarageBand project than something that belongs on an album only lasted for 2:49.

Miley’s vocals sound nice – as they do on all the tracks on the album – but there’s something to be said about compelling lyrics and organized music rather than organized chaos.

4x4 (featuring Nelly)

Miley threw out the rules on this album. It’s not a ‘country’ album and it’s not an album for little Hannah Montanna fans.

Aren’t they all grown up now anyway? Is that show even on the air anymore?

Anyway, in this case, her willingness to experiment with different musical sounds paid off.

I can’t say that it’s much in terms of lyrics or story-telling, but it’s got a nice musical sound to it – almost country/r&b with some Spanish flare.

It’s like LeAnn Rimes’ “Nothin’ Better to Do” was mixed with a Nelly track and then Miley put her spin on it.

“I’m a female rebel, who can’t you tell, who can’t you tell,” Miley sings.

The most unique lyric (possibly on the entire album) finds it’s home here: “Driving so fast, ‘bout to piss on myself.”

The ‘rebellion’ bit still seems like more of a carefully crafted act than real, but it’s

Nelly lends his voice to this track, dropping the n-word a couple of times, but it’s Miley’s show.

My Darlin’ (featuring Future)

This was an interesting take on “Stand By Me.”

Miley continues to prove that she has a voice that can take care of business on many different kinds of tracks – whether it’s dance, country, r&b or pop. Or, in this case – a mixture of ballad and rap – with techno and gospel elements providing the background sound.

It’s not anything worthy of radio play, but it’s interesting.

I’m pretty sure they spent more time in the production booth than writing the words to most of these songs though.

Case in point: “Why don’t you stand – stand by me? Oh my darling, stand by me. Cause we gonna’ make a movie – a movie – and it’s gonna’ be in 3D, 3D.”

Not exactly Carly Simon or Alanis Morisette level there.

Wrecking Ball

This is the song out of the entire album where Miley sounds like she’s at her most vulnerable. It seems like the most real piece of work on Bangerz.

It’s pretty much flawless.

It was a great choice as a second single for the album.

Seeing as how it’s pretty much the best song on the album, I’m not sure if Miley will see a downturn in her success, but if she does, “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” already left their mark.

Love Money Party (featuring Big Sean)

Miley followed up an incredible song with another song that follows in the tradition of any number of rap songs that talk about – as you can guess by the song’s title – love, money and parties.

The music sounded like something you’d find on an Eminem track. Kudos, again, to her for experimenting

Big Sean doesn’t add much to the song, but fills his spot in the “rapper spot” late in the song. He finishes up in time for Miley to leave us with, “We want love, money, party.”


This one will get your hips moving and your toes wiggling.

It has a bit of an island track. If this song were an alcoholic beverage it would be a Palmtini – on a beach in Mexico – sitting next to a woman in a bikini.

Miley is basically begging her man for some action on “#GETITRIGHT.”

“I feel a surge coming over me. I feel it all around my thighs,” Miley sings.

She almost sounds like Sheryl Crow when she sings, “and you send chills up my spine.”

We get to hear some of Miley’s large vocal range on “#GETITRIGHT.” She holds her notes and channels Mariah Carey a couple of times.

There’s a fun vibe to the song for sure.

A little over half way through the song, the mood of the song switches into something that sounds similar to Christina Aguilera.

“I feel so alone when you are gone, but then go right back home when I’m in your arms,” Miley says with a music box in the background.

It then goes back to the tropical island vibe it had before.


This is an angry break-up song that Miley utilizes her angry voice for. It’s effective.

She sounds emotional, despite the distracting synthesizer beat in the background.

“Drive my heart into the night. You can drop the keys off in the morning,” Miley sings.

I think the song would be more effective without the synthesizer distracting from the vocals and the rest of the instruments used – which have a lot of variety by itself.


I thought Miley brought her angst on “Drive,” but it returned here.

There’s a electronic keyboard that adds a nice Halloween-like effect to the song.

It’s almost something you’d expect from the movie Hocus Pocus.

As for the lyrics? They seem like something Bruno Mars would have come up with.

“I got two, ooh letters for you. One of them’s ‘F’ and the other one’s ‘U.’”

Do My Thang

The tough girl/rebel act is back for “Do My Thang.”

“I’m a southern bell, crazier than hell, getting’ wild up in here, getting live up in here,” Miley tells us.

For most of the track she’s doing her best faux gangsta’ impression. Quite different from the girl who once said she didn’t know a single song by Jay-Z.

Then she goes into a very studious, articulate voice for the main chorus, before she does two renditions of it in her best Kelly Clarkson impersonation.

Most of the lyrics consist of “I'mma’ do my thang, cuz I'mma’ do my thang” in an exaggerated ghetto accent.

I think Miley may have been on some Molly when she made this song, but, I’ve got to give it to her: she has a lot of creativity on this song.

It kind of mirrors the real-life situation that’s going on: who is the real Miley? Is she a white-skinned black girl, a clubber until dawn, a soulful young soul or some strange combination of the bunch?

Maybe You’re Right

You’ve got to wonder how everything went down between Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth.

“You might think I’m crazy – that I’m lost and foolish leavin’ you behind,” Miley sings. “Maybe you’re right.”

The words aren’t that impressive, but you can hear the heartbreak in the song.

Like Pink said in an interview overseas, she likes singers who let you hear their pain. Miley is definitely in that category.

Whether this song is about Liam Hemsworth or not, you can hear pain in her voice.

Someone Else

Another break-up song here.

Miley makes that clear with the first bit of lyrics.

“If you’re looking for love, know that love don’t live here anymore. He left with my heart. They both walked through that door without me.”

This isn’t a ‘screw you’ song though.

“Hold me close, don’t let me go, I hope. Tell me that now is not the end.”

She picks up the pace near the end of the song, singing very quickly, “Love is patient. Love is selfless. Love is hopeful. Love is kind. Love is jealous. Love is selfish. Love is helpless. Love is blind.”

Once again, a little too much electropop. It’s not bad when it fits the song, but in this case it takes away from it.

Rooting For My Baby

This is the mellowest song of the bunch – more like the songs people are used to hearing from Miley.

It’s – dare I say it – similar to Sade.

The drums and the guitar give it that vibe – along with the background vocals repeating “I know, I know.”

Miley sings about a disenchanted relationship where she’s walking on egg shells to keep it going.

“No good morning today. I stay to the right if I know you’re mad. You’re on the left side. Stay out of your way.”

On My Own

As if she wasn’t drawing inspirations from enough people on her fourth studio album, Miley adds one more for the Deluxe Version of Bangerz.

It’s Michael Jackson circa his “Smooth Criminal” days with this song.

The song’s message is one of independence. It’s about her realizing that she needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

“You will never listen when I need someone to talk to so you switch the subject, cause, it’s beyond you. And when you talk about your dreams, I’m never included.”

It runs a little long at 3:52, but it’s a good song.

Hands in the Air (featuring Ludacris)

This song is another one that seems like it’s drawn inspirations from the ‘80s, but utilizes today’s typical pop elements to bring it into the 2000’s.

In case anybody had forgotten amongst the quasi-madness on some of the other songs, Miley proves, again, that she can sing.

Ludacris doesn’t add any words of wisdom – rather brags himself up – but he does add a little something to the song, unlike most of the collaborators Miley worked with on Bangerz.

Maybe it’s because Luda has such a distinct voice or maybe because it’s so different than Miley’s?

I suppose it really doesn’t matter because the entire album is a showcase for Miley. It’s not like there are any duets. Nelly, Big Sean, etc. show up in the spot where you expect them to chime in and then Miley does a Beyonce and says ‘thanks for showing up…see ya’ later.’

I was probably too liberal with my four-star ratings of “Drive” and “Someone Else.” The songs themselves aren’t that incredible, but Miley brought her A-game to the studio when she recorded them.

I doubt this album will go down as one of the all-time classics, but this was a nice return to the music world after Miley spent several years playing ‘actress’ in several not-so-stellar movies.

It’s definitely a turning point in Miley’s music career. It added a lot of variety to her musical repertoire. I have no doubt she has even more musical talent that we’ve yet to hear.

Ke$ha probably does the rapping bit better than Miley, but Bangerz delivers a series of tracks that can only be described as a mish-mash of sounds, accents and effects.

Sometimes it worked and other times it didn’t, but the effort to do something new and fresh was appreciated.

The songs probably should’ve stood out more than they did, but the repetitious beats and lyrics made one song seem like the next at certain points.

It will be interesting to see what she delivers next time around. I guess we’ll see, then, if this is all truly a phase or not. It may not be as believable an evolution as Pink made, but

Either way, music is where Miley excels. It’s where she should stay.

Songs to pay attention to: “Wrecking Ball” and “We Can’t Stop” are probably the two of Bangerz’s best, but “#GETITRIGHT,” “FU,” “Maybe You’re Right,” and “On My Own” are worth checking out too.

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