Miley Cyrus - Bangerz
Erm ... wasn’t this supposed to be game-changing and dangerous? Its hollow, unremittingly roboticised sheen is, on reflection, no surprise at all; its stupefying blankness entirely predictable. But, for this much-trumpeted ‘growing up’ record, a super-hot assemblage of producers up front and co-stars in tow, the word was Bangerz was Miley Cyrus revealed: the ‘adult’ album, Miley in your face and writ large. Don’t mess, cos she’s striding into town with the Disney years behind her, Hannah Montana six feet under, a shaven-headed siren maxed out on a lust for life and looking for trouble like it’s going out of fashion.
Bangerz was, of course, trailed beautifully, cynically, beautifully cynically, by ‘Wrecking Ball’: “I came in like a wrecking ball / I never hit so hard in love.” It’s a conveyor break-up song, as revolutionary in its effect-driven M.O. as, ooh, Heart’s ‘Alone’, that jarring quiet and loud; aural strobing in slo-mo. May induce seizures. Hmm. Or comas. Only, no! Wake up granddad! Because ‘Wrecking Ball’, helpfully, for those who didn’t perhaps get it – doh, like a wrecking ball – came with helpful Miley-swinging-naked-on-an-actual-wrecking-ball video. 200 million YouTube views and rising, would you believe. Wow. Even allowing for generous snipping for matters of demographic and/or sexual persuasion, that’s still pretty much the population of the UK who’ve spent 3 minutes visualising having sex with you, girl. I blame the parents - you hear that, Billy Ray? It's something to tell the grandchildren, for sure.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Pop stars messing around with sex. Yeah, yeah. Hear ya. Quick check and society still appears to be still in one piece. The world still spins. We survived Elvis’s hips, Kylie’s hot pants and god knows what else: together we’ll get through this latest temporary assault on our withered sensibilities. Thing is, we don’t need to worry. Yeah, really. Come on out, people. Because Bangerz is weak-kneed and mostly clueless; as dangerous as operating heavy machinery on a can of Shandy Bass, as risqué as Debbie Gibson shaking her hair loose.
Its 13 tunes divide roughly into syrupy ballads, middling r’n’b that drowns the singer in an ocean of auto-tune (‘Adore You’, ‘Drive’) and up-tempo beats, tracks that clatter with an abrasive plurp and buzz, too jittery for the dance floor, off-puttingly brittle and coarse. ‘SMS’ is billed as a duet with Britney but its off-beat stomp is a dead-ringer for Iggy Azalea’s ‘Work’. Irony makes a sharp exit on the ‘Old Miley’-referencing cod hoedown ‘4x4’: “I’m a female rebel, can’t you tell? / Drivin so fast ‘bout to piss on myself.” There’s one for the karaoke, ladies. On ‘FU’ she keeps up the attitude, purloins (again) a tad cluelessly from ‘I Put A Spell On You’, unceremoniously gives some doofus his marching orders: “I got two, ooh letters for you / One of them's F and the other one's U.”
The journey from tepid to tawdry to tedious never felt so long. Even the album cover is stricken with a schizophrenic impotence, not knowing quite how to package its star, and settling for Miley coquettishly putting fingers to lips and turning to camera, a black jacket that just covers her boring, barely-there behind, presenting Serious/Sober Miley. Against a back drop of palm trees and pastel peach and purple, its very minimalism in itself an act of wanton over-design, it’s like some arsehole in a double breasted suit threw a couple of Pat Benetar albums and a DVD of Cocktail at the design team and screamed: “There’s your mood board, motherfuckers! I want day-glo extreme, I want femme fatale, I want Miley but not Miley! Capiche?”
For an album that features such a large supporting cast, Bangerz is awfully thin, its oddly sparse arrangements stripping it of the joy and euphoria you’d expect from a document of, huh, youth running wild. It pitches Miley as gobby, attention-seeking brat, a role she plays with gusto, but its lack of depth and variation give her little to do and us little to engage with. Lacking genuine drama, a little more playfulness, a few more laughs, would have gone a long way.
Whether you side with Sinead O’Connor, whose recent open letter of concern was big on heart but perhaps less so on tact, or Amanda Palmer, who more generously went for the ‘just another pop star harmlessly pissing about’ line, the outcome, on the evidence here, is that both can sleep easy. And if, perhaps, you’ve seen beyond the clanking star maker machinery, it won’t surprise you to learn that Bangerz is little more than yet another dull, over-cooked slab of US club pop. No edge, no surprises, no striving. No hint of danger.
Poor Miley. Hauled up on multiple counts of infecting the nation’s youth with a carnal craving for shit tattoos, potty-mouthed rambling and serial nudity, and the more serious charge of helping further diminish the position of women in pop by putting tits before talent (guilty as charged, your honour), she stumbles giggling from court, her handlers committed to defending their charge from these unspeakable, heinous accusations. “A little bit o’ dirt never hurt nobody,” she chirps at one point. Oh, Miley. If only that were true.
Last updated: 26/02/2018 12:53:38