Britney, Justin T, Xtina… Miley Cyrus is not the first former Disney starlet to chafe at her anodyne past and yearn to show us her dark side.
She is, however, one of the most spectacular examples. 2013 has been all about breaking bad for 20-year-old Ms Cyrus: potty-mouthed interviews, semi-naked photo shoots, twerking Robin Thicke’s crotch to (hopefully) smithereens, and now an album that virtually begs to be seen as edgy and, y’know, badass.
She has succeeded in that Bangerz could hardly be further removed from Hannah Montana’s glutinous teen-pop. It’s not the “Dirty Southern hip-hop” album that she hopefully claims it to be, but its thumping pop/R&B beats ram home its primary message with the subtlety of a sledgehammer: Miley has got herself a bad attitude.
Thus 4x4 finds her loudly proclaiming herself a “female rebel”. SMS (Bangerz) has her declaiming that she doesn’t need any “f***ing man” to pleasure her as long as she has a pack of batteries. The single We Don’t Stop depicts Miley and her fellow all-night party animals fighting to “do lines in the bathroom”. Etc, etc…
Musically, she ropes in the usual suspects of Pharrell, will.i.am and Dr Luke to produce an album rammed with standard-issue 2013 chart-pop tropes: rave synthesizers, glitch-heavy R&B and lashings of Auto-Tune. Sometimes, as on Wrecking Ball and My Darlin, it is spirited and off-kilter enough to work; other tracks such as Adore You or Drive are merely generic.
It’s a record that Britney could have made, or Rita Ora, or even Cher Lloyd – and ultimately, you have to wonder if Miley Cyrus has merely exchanged one gilded cage for another.