As a hate figure for the easily outraged, Destiny Hope Cyrus has excelled.
Number 1 album and singles on both sides of the pond, with every foul husk in the slavering, morbid tabloid press baying for her every utterance. Many are asking what price this has all come at; the twerking, the drugs, the dressing in half a condom – to the outsider, she is a free-wheeling, miasmic firework, no longer tethered to the everyday.
This unyielding shamelessness manifests on Bangerz. Discomforting in the extreme for those who pine for the days of Hannah Montana, Bangerz is a harrowing litany of borderline sadism and genuine heartache; a schizophrenic, skeletal hydra, putting the lions’ share of weight on two opposing styles. Why this defiantly minimal record required 12 producers is beyond me – even more baffling are the 35 writers credited with its creation. 35!
Opener ‘dore You is a grand piece. Sweeping, elegant even, pointedly equipped with a simple, two part harmony, auto-tuned to illicit maximum emotional yield. This rather morose piece sets a dark, painful tone to the album; following track and recent single We Can’t Stop sounds as though it is seen through the eyes of the party-goer who’s been partying too long. With a slower pace than is common for the style, it is the regretful dawn, when everyone is burnt out, cursing their sniffing and headaches.
Unlike Ke$ha, whose records ooze brazen raunch and carefree energy, Cyrus’ party numbers sound like a girl trying very hard to upset The Man. SMS(Bangerz), Love Money Party and the idiotic half-country of 4×4 are shudderingly embarrassing, our protagonists’ truly moronic lyricism giving glorified corner-thug Nelly a run for his money.
The more balladeering work, the pinnacle of which being Wrecking Ball, is much stronger. My Darlin’ and Drive are strong tracks, and though that slow-motion kick seems to permeate everything, Cyrus’ wounded, straining voice soars in these powerful frames. She sounds believable and angry, not pitiful and young.
At the album’s midway point is a track called #Getitright, the most uncomfortable, desperate song in history. Framed in the context of the painful, one-sided relationships, derided public metamorphosis and punitive partying elsewhere on the album, this song paints the common picture of a girl trying to be something for a boy, being taken for granted and pushed to one side. Echoed in part on the I’ve-been-through-the-mill of Someone Else, what seems to radiate from this experience is genuine teenage pain, rather than a marketing team pulling heart strings.
Bangerz is a record that makes me sad. Not because it’s the product of increasingly dignity-crushing music engine, but because it’s a tough record to listen to. Taken as a commentary on the life of the artist at its core, Cyrus is a scared little girl, trying to be a woman, with as much pressure on her to deliver and satisfy her investors and hangers-on as anyone else.
Truth be told, this album is far too long; pruning some of the worst material, it would be a heartfelt, modern album with some dance on it. As it is, this is two distinct creations – the child in agony and her brave-face alter – scrabbling for space on one disc. I honestly believe there is scope for Cyrus to advance and be valid, but she needs to be mature rather than just sounding it.
Miss Cyrus, in case you’re reading – give in for a bit. Stop trying to be a dominant, sexual woman and let yourself grow into a person first. Too many are lost because they believe they knew better, and were found wanting. Learn from those who went before.