October 4, 2013 - 12:13pm
BY GIBSON JOHNS
“It’s not a transition. It’s a movement. It’s a growth. It’s a change.”
And so began MTV’s hour-long documentary special on the ever-present Miley Cyrus, “Miley: The Movement.” Chronicling Miley from the radio premiere of “We Can’t Stop” on “On Air With Ryan Seacrest” in June to the discussion she prompted following her VMA performance in late August, “Movement” gave her a chance to explain and defend her recent actions with a surprising amount of eloquence and maturity.
Though a few years ago Miley would’ve seen herself becoming another Hayley Williams of Paramore, she ended up becoming passionate about hip-hop. After seeing her impressive cover of “Jolene” that she had posted on YouTube as a part of her “Backyard Sessions,” Pharrell Williams reached out to Miley and, following a few mentoring sessions, convinced her that it was time for a change. Pharrell, whom Miley refers to as her “big bro,” told her it was time to say goodbye to the Bun.
“I felt like I had this whole new attitude — that I could finally be the bad bitch that I really am,” semi-joked Miley as she recalls the feeling she had when she gave herself the Draco Malfoy haircut. She revealed that she subsequently spent about three months in Philadelphia where she collaborated with Dr. Luke on “Wrecking Ball,” which would become her first Number One on the Billboard Hot 100.
Pharrell’s initial intention wasn’t to record music with her but he ended up producing four songs for the upcoming Bangerz and introduced her to a person that has also played a huge hand in this “Movement,” Mike WiLL Made It. As she explained on the special, Miley and Mike WiLL recorded the worldwide smash “We Can’t Stop” in their first day in the studio together. They shared the same vision for what Miley could become and instantly hit it off.
By about halfway through “The Movement,” it became quite clear that Miley does in fact know what she’s doing. She has her head on her shoulders. Whether it was watching her joke around with her mother, Tish, singing Shakira’s “Whenever Wherever” or as she played with her pet dogs at her home in L.A. and previewed some of her album tracks, I couldn’t help but respect this girl. She’s kind of a genius.
“It’s not just some big mess,” she explained. “It’s all thought out.”
Seeing Miley talk to Britney Spears as they recorded their duet “SMS (Bangerz)” together was one of the best moments of the special as it highlighted her almost as a young professional who just has way too many ideas. She’s always known that she’s supremely talented but she had “been doing things that didn’t feel like (her) for so long” that, until now, have prevented her from truly expressing her talent.
Throughout “The Movement,” Miley comes across as smart and grounded and funny and, though it doesn’t validate everything that she’s done (like those NSFW Terry Richardson photos), it makes me believe that she’s calling the shots. She knows what she’s doing and she isn’t taking herself too seriously. She’s just a girl on a mission to conquer the pop music kingdom.
“You’re always going to make people talk,” she said of her VMA performance. “So you might as well make them talk for two weeks and not for, like, two seconds.”
And over a month later, we’re still talking. A “strategic hot mess,” indeed.