Shrouded in controversy and inexplicable public displays of “tongue-showing,” Miley Cyrus has created an image makeover that is so ridiculous, it actually works: Everyone’s eyes are focusing on her. Now, so will their ears. Cyrus’ fourth studio album, “Bangerz,” is the sleaziest and most unapologetic party record since Ke$ha’s “Animal.”
Cyrus makes a lasting impression with her choice of musical style, genre and production. While elements of the oh-so-overdone electronic dance music synths are sprinkled throughout, “Bangerz” takes on a new-age rhythm and blues feel, complete with grinding slow jams and beat-driven hip-hop numbers. One of the most interesting production choices crashes the party in the form of the brass-infused torch song “FU,” which tells the tale of a cheating boyfriend who doesn’t know when to just come clean. Cyrus gives him a kick in the pants, belting out the line, “I’ve got two letters for you/ one of them’s ‘F’ and the other one’s ‘U.’”
Lyrically, “Bangerz” is packed full of quotable gems. From lines like “I feel like I got no panties on” in “Get It Right,” to “They ask me how I keep a man/ I keep a battery pack,” in the Britney Spears guest spot “SMS(Bangerz),” Cyrus makes sure there is never a boring moment. Though her rapping skills vary from almost-passable to moderately decent, Cyrus sells her “all-grown-up” routine without an ounce of irony. This conviction shines through in the dubstep-tinged soul-searcher, “Drive,” in which Cyrus solemnly sings “I guess I got no valentine/ sent me roses, I just let them die,” and the flawless “Wrecking Ball,” the soulful power-ballad that will undoubtedly have Adele wishing she got her hands on it first.
Cyrus’s attention-grabbing new image has sharply divided the American public. But there is no denying that her commitment to her wild-child ways have opened up a national dialogue about what it’s like to be an over-sexed 20-something living from party to party. If this image is her visual hallmark, then “Bangerz” is the accompanying credo that attempts to preach to her target demographic — and does so with roaring success.