By Gregory Hicks, Daily Arts Writer
Published October 8, 2013
Bangerz seeks to recreate Miley Cyrus as a new-and-upcoming hip-hop artist rather than highlight the former Disney singer as an artist who has merely matured in her work. Cyrus expressed disdain over her all material before this fourth studio album, stating that she views Bangerz as her first true album. Why is it, then, that so much of this record sounds very familiar?
The Bangerz ballads (“Adore You,” “Maybe You’re Right”) could have easily found a place on the then-Disney star’s previous album, Can’t Be Tamed — a record that proved Cyrus couldn’t be tamed or successful. Both albums contain awkward song disparities brought on by leisurely innocent music behind tasteless, beat-heavy tracks.
“4x4” combines the Nashville roots of Cyrus’s upbringing with a bit of synth, which might have been original if it hadn’t also been attempted on “Two More Lonely People” from Can’t Be Tamed. The song predictably includes Nelly, who — between “Cruise” and “4x4” — has some newfound fascination with features on country-pop songs that involve automobiles.
The album’s filler tracks are vapid even for filler tracks. The uninspired “Adore You” is barely worthy of being a Walmart Special Edition bonus track, let alone the lead track on the album. It’s beyond groundless to tear your reputation to shreds to establish yourself as a grungy hip-hop artist, only to have the first song on your album be a lovelorn lullaby worthy of a spot on Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus.
The production and writing credits raise an eyebrow over Bangerz’s major pitfalls. Mike Will Made It produced eight of the 16 songs, while Pharrell produced four others. In theory, this should be a very coherent hip-hop album. Yet, here we are, with Pharrell producing a country jam (“4x4”) and Mike Will Made It producing a seemingly gospel-influenced piano ballad (“Maybe You’re Right”) — a poor utilization of two trending hip-hop/R&B producers during a hip-hop boom.
Though it’s one of the more basic pieces on the album — obligatory, given that it’s Dr. Luke’s handiwork — “Wrecking Ball” is Bangerz’s savior. Decent chord progressions, airy verses with a smashing chorus and no cringe-worthy lyrics; it’s a safe power ballad, but despite its simplicity, it still sounds like an adult pop song. This second promotional single awarded Cyrus her first No. 1 song, as well as a record-breaking number of views for the track’s music video.
Bland as her record might be, the “We Can’t Stop” singer has mastered the art of promotion. Cyrus truly “can’t stop” finding new ways to stir up thrills and chills in anticipation of this musical rebirth. Racy photo shoots, risqué performances and a curiosity-piquing collaboration from the legendary Ms. Britney Spears will drive major album sales for Bangerz’s opening week. Long-term success isn’t likely, but this record will surely usher in the new era that Miley Cyrus has dreamed up for her career.