Album Review: Miley Cyrus – Bangerz

October 20, 2013

Title: Bangerz
Artist: Miley Cyrus
Record Label: RCA Records
Date: Oct. 8, 2013
In One Word: Adequate

You’re right – Miley Cyrus’ on the loose. The well-known ex-Disney star from Hannah Montana has been in and around the media for months now – especially since her 2013 Video Music Awards appearance on August 25. We all watched, read and re-watched that shocking performance with Robin Thicke. All the discussions going on about Miley’s actions (faux haircut, VMA performance, Wrecking Ball music video, reaction letters to Miley, twitter feud with Sinead O’Conner, public split with her fiancé Liam Hensworth, and naked photoshoots) have shown a clear departure from her Disney days. She’s a much different person now and I don’t see her returning to that innocent Hannah Montana persona we have been used to – media and music journalists, be prepared.

Since then it was all talks about her upcoming “adult” album, Bangerz. It’s odd knowing that Miley’s the one who admitted in 2009 that she has never heard a Jay-Z song; now we find her exposing her new love for hip-hop with collaborations from rappers like Nelly, Future, Big Sean and French Montana. Now that her new fourth studio album is released it’s time to mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves.

I was expecting a horrible “gangster” disaster with annoying raps, melodies and awfully explosive productions. But, to my surprise, Bangerz is shockingly an album with some really beautifully produced songs – her rich and unique voice from past songs like The Climb and even in her first adulthood-persona appearance Can’t Be Tamed is still present – let’s face it, the girl can sing. However, there are other songs in the album that are painfully horrific. Every album has its highs and lows and even though Miley’s have a majority of irritating lows, there are a few poignant and glorious songs that make Bangerz a tolerable listen.

Exploring Through The Songs

1. Adore You

To start off the adventure – we are presented with a surprisingly laidback ballad that’s – safe to say – the best song out of the album, standing out from her other pop and hip-hop infused tracks off this album. The song welcomes mid-tempo drum riffs with soft and strong vocals mixed with beautifully produced harmonies.

2. We Can’t Stop

The anthem off the album was truly a hit with fans as We Can’t Stop triumphed the charts as it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. This first single of the Twerking Era shows off an ear-catching chorus succeeding to have sing along lyrics. As much as many hate to admit it, We Can’t Stop is a really good pop song – despite the performance in the VMA’s.

3. SMS (Bangerz) ft. Britney Spears

One of the most highly anticipated collaborations of 2013 and thankfully the shortest track on the album. Honestly, what the hell is this? Your ears start to bleed painfully through a crowded song layering dreadful rapping of the annoying word “bangerz”, auto-tune, hard drumming and vocals. A weird and unusual track I wish I hadn’t heard – sorry Britney, what were you thinking?

4. 4×4 ft. Nelly

Even though this track features homage to the Tennessee-raised musician’s routes in a hoedown spin – this tune feels out of place. The 2013 line dancing song makes of possibly just a filler track on the album – pointless and forgotten.

5. My Darlin’ ft. Future

A cool new slow jam intertwining lyrics from the classic Ben E. King song Stand By Me. Miley’s voice is soft, soulful and breathy as she looks back and pictures her ex-fiancé, Liam, at the alter. The faded out synth chords and banging bass make a really good romantic song. Well done Miley and Future.

If you have no intension of listening to this album – atleast give this track a try.

6. Wrecking Ball

One of the best songs that concentrates on her voice and how she succeeds as a musician. Even after hearing this tune over a hundred times, I’m still extremely impressed at the control of her voice. It’s a pounding beat that expresses pure and souring emotion. Masterpiece.

Now – I know what you’re waiting for: that Wrecking Ball video. Yes the one with riding a wrecking ball naked and licking sledgehammers. I agree that the video is nonsense and extreme – but reviewing solemly on the song: must admit Miley concurred an incredible song.

With all honesty – the director’s cut of the video portrays the song much more than the original.

7. Love Money Party ft. Big Sean

Country girl meets yet another rapper. This hip-hop style song feels extremely forced (especially in Big Sean’s verse). Honestly I didn’t bother finishing this song due to its annoying repetitive chorus.

8. #Get It Right

Right from the very beginning – it felt like a parody of Blurred Lines with Robin Thicke ft. T.I and Get Lucky with Daft Punk – a predictable Pharrell Williams production. The flare and whistling beat definitely screams Pharrell – I dig it. Very colourful and sexy lyrics with some unique metaphors of sex you would never hear before – clever. A few re-listens and you’ll find yourself jamming to this one. Just one thing – what’s the point of the hashtag?

9. Drive

Another gem track and highlight production off this album. It’s a kind of dubstep/Driveway/Amy Winehouse-like twist. Seems like this song should be a sequel of the song Driveway off her first solo album – her vocals are impeccable on this one. You feel her pain and broken-hearted anger. Another Liam and Miley break-up song – however it seems like romantic songs is Miley’s forte.

10. F U ft. French Montana

Whoa – those aggressive vocals! It’s explicit, crash banging, loud, theatrical and heated that ultimately gets an A+ in my books. Her vocals are the strongest when she alters those high and raw levels that succeed in bringing chills all over.

11. Do My Thang

A very Wizard of Oz feel in beginning – it started off nice having that dance-pop elements. It would have been a radio hit – if someone else rapped on it. Miley – why are you rapping? Just, no.

12. Maybe You’re Right

A possible near future single. A great ballad with an ear pleasing beat, incredibly moving lyrics and of course that recognizable Miley country-flecked vocals. Just like in The Climb, this song showcases Miley’s impeccable ranges demonstrating that – setting aside all her chaotic publicity – she can really sing.

13. Someone Else

Here’s the end of our journey. I don’t agree with the track order and think that we shouldn’t have saved a clubby eurodance-pop tune for last. Even though I do see this mid-tempo and bouncy song being in clubs around Toronto soon, I would have personally preferred a heartbreaker song that solemnly defines her pure vocals.

Nine unique and well produced tracks out of the 13 – not bad at all. She experimented with a handful of styles and genres, which I admire in any musician, even if a few of those were torturous to listen to. As much as you might hate Miley now and are sick of hearing about her – her new album is actually not that bad. Even though some of her actions are obscured – she’s at that young-adult stage where she’s experimenting and testing how far she could go before breaking. You win fans – and you loose some, every musician and celebrity goes through that stage. Set aside the Mile-igans and give Bangerz a shot.

© Jessica Paiva, Music Vice

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