Miley Cyrus: Bangerz
Perhaps the most shocking thing about Bangerz is how middle-of-the-road it is. Her videos and performances may have made her the most talked-about celebrity of this half of 2013, but you certainly wouldn’t guess it from the music. Bangerz, Cyrus’s fourth full-length effort, is not a bad album. There are some very fine songs, good production, and her voice is very strong here. But it’s also certainly not a very good album. The set is weighed down by too many bad songs with lazy production and forgettable melodies. The quality of these songs is what you’d expect to find on an album by a second-rate pop star, not unlike Cyrus’s previous albums. But that’s what makes this whole thing so interesting. Over the past six months, Cyrus has positioned herself as a superstar and Bangerz was her opportunity to prove she had the chops to back it up. Though she has shown through her live performances (with the exception of the live performance: the VMAs) that she can sing quite well, the music just can’t back it up. Even when she does showcase her powerful vocals on the album, as on the faux-cabaret-meets-dubstep “FU” or the Benatar-grabbing single “Wrecking Ball,” the songs are too mediocre to be impressed. Songs like “SMS (Bangerz)” or “Love Money Party” are grating and obnoxious club tracks. “4×4” is a bizarre country-meets-club anthem that sticks out like a sore thumb. Opening track “Adore You,” which is actually quite good, is very weak as an opener; the ballad would be better suited in the back half of the album.
There are some great moments throughout, though, like the Pharrell-penned and produced “#GETITRIGHT” or the way the key changes in the middle of “Do My Thang” from minor to major, or even the insanely catchy, if somewhat awkwardly-phrased lead single “We Can’t Stop,” but these are too few and far between. It’s not an exceptionally bad album. In fact, there’s nothing exceptional about it in either direction. Cyrus unfortunately proves to be more hype than she’s worth, and maybe now she can go back to being a second-rate pop star. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.