Never in my life as a journalist did I think that I would have to write about Miley Cyrus. Obviously, I thought wrong. Through a series of unfortunate events, demand rose for a review of the freshly released 30-second snippets of each song from her upcoming album, “Bangerz,” and in a cruel twist of fate, I was assigned the task.
I know, you’re sick of hearing about her. So am I. I’m in the school of thought where, in the sphere of celebrity and publicity stunts, any press is good press. Do all the slut shaming and pop culture pseudo-analysis of Miley you want, but at the end of the day, you’re still writing about her, which makes you just as bad as the TMZ glorifiers.
I, of course, realize the hypocrisy of this statement as I launch into a piece about her album, so I’m going to do something completely unheard of to make this review a bit easier for you and I both. I’m not going to talk about Miley Cyrus as a person. I’m not going to weigh in on her recent coming-of-age antics. I’m not going to talk about her penchant for never leaving the house fully clothed. I’m not going wax poetic on the personal explanations of her latest music video. Frankly, I couldn’t care less.
Instead, I’m going to talk about her new album for what it is – music. And not good music at that.
Sunday evening, AllMusic debuted a new, temporary page where excited fans and cynical music critics could preview the 16 songs on her fourth and latest album, “Bangerz,” for a grand total of 30 seconds each, a week before the album is set to release.
There are plenty of things the average person can accomplish in eight minutes that amount to much greater things than listening to this album preview. So, please, save those eight minutes for something worthwhile. Paint a picture. Go for a walk. Get a head start on your midterm studying. Cook some noodles. Brush your cat. Watch a British TV show. Read this handy song-by-song guide to “Bangerz.”
1. “Adore You”: The 808 force is strong in this lame, drawn-out love ballad. This sounds like the type of song to which a young girl too edgy for Taylor Swift would shed tears, while an image of her best guy friend dissolves in soft focus above her.
2. “We Can’t Stop”: Please don’t make me do this.
3. “SMS (Bangerz) feat. Britney Spears”: This actually sounds like a Peaches song. You know, the hyper-sexual feminist bad-ss who wrote that one song, “F-ck the Pain Away” that everyone secretly listened to in middle school? Cleanly twisted white girl rap makes SMS more fun than the previous two songs, but not necessarily better.
4. “4×4 feat. Nelly”: Miley Cyrus described “Bangerz” as “dirty south hip-hop.” I made a horrible misjudgment when I was expecting something like Outkast or Bone Crusher. Instead, I think what Miley meant was “modern country-western with a dense pop beat, more risqué lyrics, and a cameo by the dude who thought it was a good idea to release ‘Hot in Herre.’”
5. “My Darlin’ feat. Future”: This sounds like an echo-heavy “adult contemporary” song layered with an Auto-Tuned version of “Stand by Me” layered on top of it. Despite my Google search skills, I’m not hip enough to know if there’s been a song released recently that employs the use of Auto-Tune and includes the line “stand by me,” that was sampled for “My Darlin’,” or if they simply wrecked the Ben E. King original, but I’m not happy about it.
6. “Wrecking Ball”: This “We Can’t Stop” follow-up is exactly what it should be – mildly catchy with a predictable song structure that goes undercover as something “sad” or “emotional.” But, above all, it’s forgettable. Nobody is going to remember “Wrecking Ball” in 10 years and for good reason.
7. “Love Money Party feat. Big Sean”: Aww, cute. She’s trying to make trap music! Too bad the allotted 30 seconds made “Love Money Party” sound more like a stolen verse from a Pussycat Dolls song circa 2005. I’m sad I didn’t get to hear Big Sean’s part. I wonder if he rhymes “ass shake” with “ass quake” with “ass tate” with “ass tray” with, well, you know where this goes.
8. “#GETITRIGHT”: What even are hashtags in songs? Why does anybody do this, ever? “Hashtag Get it Right” sounds like a (hashtag) Hannah Montana song, with a bit of (hashtag) “Party in the USA,” only if (hashtag) “Party in the USA” wasn’t a (hashtag) ear worm. There is (hashtag) whistling in this song, and it sounds like the innocent, non-offensive background sound filler you would hear broadcast over the mall’s (hashtag) food court.
9. “Drive”: I can’t think of a song that tries as hard (unsuccessfully, I might add) to cash in on current music trends for the sake of popularity as “Drive,” even if those trends make zero musical sense within the context of the song. It sounds like a standard breakup ballad, but there’s a constant dubstep “wub wub wub wub wub” underneath Miley’s sad, sad vocals. I was waiting for the climax, where the “wubs” would assert their importance, but the beat didn’t even drop.
10. “FU feat. French Montana”: Did I just listen to 30 seconds of a ’90s crime-romance Broadway musical?
11. “Do My Thang”: Here comes Miley again, hitting us with the best of dirty south hip-hop. Oh, I crack myself up. Why would you listen to this when you could listen to “Do Ya Thing” by Gorillaz feat. Andre 3000 and James Murphy? Also, if I have to hear one more 20-something girl declare, “Imma do my thang!” before doing something entirely inexcusable, I’m going to excuse myself from the planet.
12. “Maybe You’re Right”: Remember what I said at the beginning of this guide, about young girls who are too embarrassed to admit that they kind of like country music jonesing for a Taylor Swift replacement? Hey, ladies, she’s here.
13. “Someone Else”: It’s an unfortunate reality that some songs are built for remixes, and this is a prime example. The original is just so boring and commonplace that the only way it’s listenable is if someone else (seriously, no pun intended) chops and screws the whole thing up.
14. “Rooting for My Baby”: I couldn’t understand a single word Miley sing-talked during this song except, “In a minute, I’ll be over and gone.” I really hope that’s true.
15. “On My Own”: Out of all the 30-second clips I previewed thus far, this might be the best, because it sounds loosely like a Jackson 5 song. Or perhaps a Technotronic song. Point being, “On My Own” wasn’t immediately recognizable as a Miley Cyrus chart-topper. The second-to-last song on the album, this was the first time I heard any semblance of the “old school hip-hop” influence she’s been making a point to talk about these past few months.
16. “Hands in the Air feat. Ludacris”: If you’re going to do a song with Ludacris and not have Ludacris’s part in the song preview, you are a bad person who did a bad thing. This is ludicrous.
A quick disclaimer: as I have mentioned multiple times, I was only allowed 30-second clips of each song. Technically, I have only heard one-eighth of the album. Perhaps when it’s released in its entirety, “Bangerz” will blow me out of the water with its lyrical complexity and musical innovation.
Another quick disclaimer: I do not plan on listening to “Bangerz” when it hits shelves on Oct. 8. I endured “Bangerz” so you wouldn’t have to.
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