Album Review: Miley Cyrus, “Bangerz”

Well, like a wrecking ball, indeed. “Bangerz,” the highly anticipated Oct. 4th release from Miley Cyrus, was officially named a Number One record yesterday: It struck the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart, clocking in first week sales of 270,000 albums sold. That’s more than two and a half times the debut of Cyrus’s last album, 2010’s “Can’t Be Tamed“—her last release with Disney-owned label Hollywood Records. Though Cyrus has stated in interviews that she considers this album her first—her debut as an adult, and artist, and what have you.

The album is indeed the long-awaited reward after quite a bit of media saturation, its release following a carefully (and cunningly) crafted year-long PR gambit with one essential endgame: To make Miley Cyrus a massive success. And that certainly seems to be working.

While there are plenty of people who have plenty to say about some of the controversial headlines and whatsits, that’s for another time and another post entirely—one I may entertain, when the dust has a chance to settle and there’s some perspective on how this Miley madness has all played out.

But for now, the music. The brainchild of a hugely impactful celebrity coming-of-age, ‘Bangerz’ is a slick and powerful dose of pop, dragged through the dust of Cyrus’s Tennessee growl and dressed up in the gold chains and Jordans of a generation that overdosed on hip-hop. In fact, the oddest (and also the most utterly satisfying) element of this record is its bizarre mélange of influences and inflections, all of which Cyrus adopts with striking, persuasive professionalism. In early press interviews to promote ‘Bangerz,’ Cyrus cited inspirations in its making, disparate as Dolly Parton, Joan Jett, and Lil Kim, which all actually make an odd sort of sense given the album’s wonderful tendency to wander into the unexpected.

H.B.I.C.: Cyrus’s No. 1 album ‘Bangerz’ is no joke.

Cyrus’ vocals are adept and wickedly instinctive, and, when you consider the number of styles of singing represented on ‘Bangerz,‘ impressively adaptive. The album’s production, helmed by Mike WiLL Made-It, is a fresh and forward brand of urban eltecro pop-rock that fits Cyrus’s erratic twenty-something desires perfectly, and the pairing is magic for them both.

The album’s grittier moments (“My Darlin’,” “Someone Else“) are its greatest, particularly achy opener “Adore You” and the dark and dramatic “Drive,” all of which are nestled neatly among fun and flashy cameos and the already ultra-familiar pair of Cyrus’s aces, “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball.” It’s all hands on deck, with appearances by ’00s mainstays Britney Spears and Nelly, but Cyrus holds her own and stays dominant on her turf.

I recommend it highly, if you’re up for an adventure and enjoy pop music; it’s well worth the $10.99 on iTunes.

Hey—when it’s good, it’s good. See what you think.

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Get ‘Bangerz’ on iTunes.

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