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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Music

Review: Miley Cyrus’ new album, ‘Bangerz’


Twerking, sticking your tongue out at the camera, performing lewd pelvic dance maneuvers with a foam hand and partaking in a bump-and-grind with a married Robin Thicke on stage — if the combination of these things doesn’t point to a certain innocent pop star gone crazy, then you must have been living under a rock.

By now, social media has become very familiar with the explosion of Miley Cyrus. Everyone has at some time pointed fingers at the former “Hannah Montana” star for her recent “don’t care” attitude, especially after revamping her look and nearly putting Will Smith’s children in tears with her memorable performance of her “We Can’t Stop” single at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.

For Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter, the controversy surrounding some of her antics seemed to be a method to her madness in creating the out-of-control aesthetic evident in her new album, “Bangerz,” a surprisingly decent project filled with poppy love ballads sporting urban hip-hop sounds.

The album was executive-produced by hip-hop super producer Mike Will Made It and Neptunes star child Pharrell Williams, two men who have largely influenced Schoolboy Q’s and Tyler, the Creator’s music respectively. Sonically, their hands on the album push some boundaries of the pop music blueprint. Essentially, this album doesn’t sound like a pop album but rather an electro hip-hop and R&B spectacle.

Cyrus’ vocal strides on this album are huge. Her singing sounds more defined and stronger since her last effort in “Can’t Be Tamed,” which sounded a bit reserved, slightly underutilized and — well, “tamed.”

Some of the slower, hip-hop and ballad fusions on “Bangerz,” such as the introductory track, “Adore You,” definitely help push her ability to beautifully float throughout the song without sounding tired or overdone. The dramatic tone of the song hit the nail on the head with a down-tempo ballad about Cyrus caring for someone more than they do her.

Other power ballads, such as “Drive” and “Someone Else,” have their good points as well, though the latter seems to carry a little more weight in terms of enthusiasm in vocal range and production. While the beat fluctuates between Eurodance-like sounds and trap music drums, her vocals dominate the entire track. Listeners can also hear a bit of influence by Michael Jackson here.

Uptempo songs on “Bangerz” get the short end of the stick. Of course, by now, many have heard “We Can’t Stop,” the first single off the album, which is clearly aimed toward being a party anthem for radio waves. Compared to rest of the project’s content, this single doesn’t tie into the overall theme.

“FU” and “#GETITRIGHT” overpower the single tenfold. Sonically and stylistically, “FU” is the best “banger” on the album, as it is jam-packed with strong, powerfully thumping electro-pop drums intuitively mixed with a jazzy blues flavor. The song fiercely launches with perilous piano chords as Cyrus strongly takes some leaps with her range to evoke the emotion of feeling betrayed.

While “#GETITRIGHT” also gets points for its tropical, feel-good vibes in instrumentation courtesy of Williams, other upbeat tracks like “Love, Money, Party” and “4X4” hardly get anything at all. Both of these tracks sound muddy and rushed. The featured rappers on these tracks, Big Sean and Nelly respectively, fail to help carry the tune.

By no means is the album convoluted nor badly structured. However, it’ll be easy for anyone to dismiss this album based on Miley Cyrus’ actions as of late. All eyes are still on her, even after her release of this surprisingly enjoyable and sonically put-together album. “Bangerz” is like playing an undetected but well-calculated royal flush hand in a game of poker. No one will suspect that Cyrus’ twerking and sexualized conduct throughout her promotional rounds toward the release of this project would bring about a suitable and vastly rewarding end game.

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