What to Listen to: ‘Bangerz’ by Miley Cyrus

Photo: Twitter
Photo: Miley Cyrus Twitter

Everyone loves a bit of controversy and everyone loves music, so for this week’s ‘What To Listen To’ review I thought I’d mash the two together and review Miley Cyrus’ latest album, Bangerz

Before I even get into this 13-song album by the inescapable popstar, I would like to clarify that the album most definitely does not reflect the news stories that have been bombarding the world since Miley cut all of her hair off. It’s a solid pop album with a lot of decent qualities that make it a very worthwhile listen. I will say, however, that Hannah Montana was a fictional character created by Disney and if you’re expecting to see her popping up in Miley’s new material, forget it.

Honestly, this is probably Miley’s first ever album that’s entirely what she wanted and not a product directed by people wanting Hannah Montana. So, put your tongues away and earphones in and lets get cracking!

The album opens with Miley’s latest single, ‘Adore You’. It’s a super chill, laid-back song with very little form or structure. It does embody the music video quite well in how it sounds as if Miley is just expressively free-style singing to a backing track whilst rolling around in sheets. Lower-end piano and soft drumming with minimal extras make up the entire instrumental track. It’s rather beautiful and has a gorgeous chorus.

Next up, we have the song that started it all. ‘We Can’t Stop’ wasn’t just huge because it’s so catchy; it also ignited the “wtf” flame currently burning in the hearts of many concerned parents and younger fans of the songstress. It’s a typical just-having-fun party song with out-there lyrics and a matching music video. In the name of seriousness though, the production on Miley’s vocals are really good and it really did it’s job as a song that would get people talking. Remember guys, Miley’s the one rolling around in cash now!

The third track is a sort-of title track, ‘SMS (Bangerz) feat. Britney Spears’! Continuing the theme of moving away from childhood innocence, this track really means that Miley is just abandoning that blonde Hannah Montana wig and embracing her new-found love for leotards and twerking. Half-speech half-sung verses and a lot of dirty talk really have us wide-eyed and unsure of what’s yet to come. The only downside with this song is it offers very little musical value. It has more personality than anything.

‘4×4 feat. Nelly’ is the next track. It has a very interesting and strong southern twist but still carries that all-grown-up theme in the lyrics. Nelly raps a little bit. I don’t really know what else to say about it, it just happens and kind of left me a bit dry. This song is, for lack of a better word, invisible. It’s there but it doesn’t offer anything major to the other tracks on the album. I usually skip it.

‘My Darlin feat. Future’ is next up and is a really cool ballad with a hip-hop flare that makes it a really good album track that could be used as a single. Future’s heavily auto-tuned vocals imitate Miley’s in the chorus. Miley breaks out into a slightly more hip-hop vibe in the second verse but still delivers the painful message of losing someone you love and wanting them back. I really like this particular song because of it’s attempt to blend two sounds and it works.

THE NEXT SONG CAME IN LIKE A WREEEECKING BAAAALL! I still love this song even though it was everywhere constantly for what felt like months. It’s such a powerful ballad that works as a serious song and a song to use for karaoke when you’re so drunk you can’t stand (please drink responsibly). Although it took six different people to write it for Miley, it’s still a great track in terms of musicality. Also, many amusing memes and parodies have sprouted from the song’s success. It’s one of those songs that’s a commercial success but it’s actually a decent song. The fact it was so successful has lead to general ridicule from the public. Lighten up, it’s pop music.

Next up is ‘Love Money Party feat. Big Sean’ and is rich in more experimental hip-hop influences from Cyrus. Even after listening to this album a few times, I’m still not sure if this particular direction is working for Miley. My best guess is that she’s focusing too much on finding a sound so far from her previous work that she hasn’t really thought about how it actually sounds. I am a huge fan of genre-fusions and experimental pop-music, but this just leaves me scratching my head a bit. It almost annoys me because I’m so unsure. I think a lot of people would still twerk like crazy if this song came on in the club though.

The next song is ‘#GETITRIGHT’ and it starts off sounding like a total summer tune. The verse is a infectious beat with guitar strumming and whistling. There isn’t a whole lot of musical changes throughout the song, but Miley’s voice sounds really good. The lyrics are obviously filled with a sexual nature but hey, what could we honestly expect? It’s finger-clicking good!

Another favourite of mine follows with ‘Drive’! I don’t know exactly what I love about this song… Maybe it’s the amazing beat or Miley’s awesome vocals or the powerful chorus. Regardless, it’s a super good song that I really hope is released as a single soon because it’s honestly better than any of her singles so far. It’s actually a really good mash-up of everything that’s good about the singles Miley has already released. My favourite chorus on the entire album, that’s for sure!

I’m not very “in” with Miley’s fans or any fanbase really, but I imagine this next song is a fan-favourite. ‘FU feat. French Montana’ is so badass. It’s a classic angry-female-country-song with a wonderfully dark EDM shade. You can totally guess the concept of the song but what you won’t expect is how good this song actually is. Miley reaches way up into her higher range and sounds so pissed at whoever this song is directed at. If you’re going through a break up, flick this song on. Not only will it help you flush out some anger, but it will make you feel so powerful.

‘Do My Thang’ is the perfect follow-up song because it’s all about moving on from the anger in the previous song. It’s got an awesome hip-hop drop and Miley even raps on this track and she’s actually not bad! This song also features another wonderfully written chorus. There’s more EDM influences here too to keep the energy of the album going.

‘Maybe You’re Right’ is a great percussive offering that features more vocal range from Miley and even some rock-influenced guitar riffs and piano. The chorus sounds very like the one from ‘Just The Way You Are’ by ‘Bruno Mars but this definitely has it’s own stand and actually could work as a great single. This song really proves Miley can really sing though. There are countless examples of Miley proving her talent, but just in case you weren’t convinced, this song will change your mind.

We have reached the final song! ‘Someone Else’ takes Eurpoean-rave, softens it a little bit and puts a really fresh beat over it. The producer of the song obviously wanted to mess around with the synths a bit and they really delivered! Miley’s tone works really well with the instruments. This is what I had in mind when I first heard that Miley was going to be taking a completely different musical direction. It has all of the hip-hop qualities she needs to make her point and then it’s also a great dance track with ballad-style lyrics and vocals.

To wrap up, I urge you to try and forget about all of the news stories before listening to this album and really try to take it as a genuine statement-pop album with some really decent content.

I wasn’t sure if I was even going to listen to this album, but temptation overpowered me and I’m so happy I gave this album a chance.

It may not be an absolute genius collection of music given to us from the gods of music, but it does it’s job in saying that Miley wants to be her own person now. She doesn’t want to be a TV character anymore that has to spend her entire youth being squeaky-clean. She’s trying new things, she’s living her life and if she messes up, that’s her life lesson. And to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was trolling the universe and someday admits she purposely overdid the whole “growing-up” phase to piss people off for shock value. It would be a great illustration of how the industry works with the media nowadays and would essentially be a very brave artistic statement.

Sunil Gangarh
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