I’m a big Miley Cyrus fan. “Party in the USA,” “The Climb” – they’re classics. I have no doubt that somewhere deep, deep inside Miley is a great pop album, but Bangerz just makes her look bad. The album gets entertaining on tracks like “4×4,” a country-rap track with accordion sampling and Nelly’s voice awkwardly making entrances and exits. In “FU,” rapper French Montana’s EDM-cabaret collaboration is just so unreasonable that it sells itself. Yes, she clearly had the money to hire six-figure producers to make this album. Bangerz has some catchy tracks, but as an album, it is as close to a hot mess as she is.
I kept waiting for the first track, a slightly apathetic love song called “Adore You,” to go somewhere. It doesn’t really. It was a risk to start the album with this, but the point was to get everyone listening.
With casual drug use, catchy life mantras, what isn’t there to love about “We Can’t Stop?” Months after its release, “We Can’t Stop” still makes me dream of giant teddy bears, french fry skulls and getting turned up with my home girls with big butts. Here appears the first of three million distracting “Will I Made It” shout outs on the album.
The next track, “SMS (Bangerz),” is truly one of the worst on the album. When Britney Spears is the best part of a track, you know you’re in trouble. “SMS” channels a drunk Ke$ha, except Ke$ha is more talented.
Did you know Miley Cyrus is unruly, and she doesn’t care how out of control she gets? I find myself wanting to listen to the next track, an absurd country-rap song called “4×4” over and over again. But it’s so awkward. Could it be an urban “Hoedown Throwdown” part two? You do you, Miley. With that said, the beat has been stuck in my head for two days.
The “Stand By Me” intro is strange on “My Darlin” and the autotune’s straight out of T-Pain’s playbook. Kind of interesting, but it’s nothing to write home about.
From the get go, the subsequent “Wrecking Ball” carries the one believable emotion on the entire album. If my fiancé had just broken up with me because of my twerking problem and provocative outfits, I’d sing it out like this. I wouldn’t keep singing about how I keep a man with a battery pack. When listening to the lyrics it’s a little hard to believe he was the one to wreck her, but hey, people, here’s a successful breakup song.
Any emotional response you just had to “Wrecking Ball” gets destroyed with the intro to the next song, “Love Money Party.” It sounds like it belongs in Spy Kids 7: Curse of the Wrecking Ball. We get it, Miley. You like to party, you like to do molly, you like money. Also, we memorized the whole song the first time through because there is only one line. Can you guess it? Yep. “Love, money, party.”
Miley kills it on the track “Get It Right.” For the first time on the album, she sounds like she’s enjoying herself. The chopped guitar track and whistle samples are addictive. Pharrell was not at his best, but he definitely made his cut of the album revenue with this saving grace.
“Drive” has the potential to be as emotionally charged as “Wrecking Ball,” but Mike WiLL’s chaotic arrangement overpowers Miley’s vocals throughout most of the song. The soaring vocals have some good angst to them but it all feels too forced.
The next track, “FU,” is more confused than Miley herself. The dubstep feels out of place, French Montana sounds like the man who rapped on the Rebecca Black “Friday” videos. Frankly, she doesn’t have the voice to pull off cabaret. She should stick to pop.
Finally some more honesty from Miley comes with “Maybe You’re Right.” “Maybe you think I’m crazy/maybe you’re right.” The sweet piano riffs and militant drumbeat are well done. Soaring melodies are a strength for her as she channels her early hit, “The Climb,” on this track.
Like the rest of the album, “Someone Else” is another interesting listen. As the final song on the album and her declaration of being a new person, it is no more or less than fine. There is some weird EDM stuff on there she seems to have stolen as well as some Bible quoting. But quoting the Bible feels inauthentic given the current state of her public image.