Is Bangerz really bangin’?

After three long years of anticipation, Miley Cyrus’s newest album Bangerz was released October 4th of this year. Because Miley is such a relevant icon in pop culture, critics, die-hard fans, and general music-lovers alike made this new release receive massive attention. Due to the fact that Miley has been receiving harsh media criticism following her recent public performances on award shows like the VMA’s, I wanted to make sure that I absorbed the true meaning of her album by making sure I didn’t read any other reviews before formulating my own opinion. Taking all of this into account, I purchased the album, put some headphones in, and replayed the album 3 times without distractions from the outside world. The main thing I took away from the lyrics alone was that she had been dealing with love and heartbreak recently in her life. Almost every song on this album dealt with relationships and how they affected her. Now, knowing what I do about Miley Cyrus allowed me to draw some deeper conclusions, but it doesn’t take being a Miley super-fan to realize that this album is heavily centered around her love affair with ex-fiance Liam Hemsworth. The problem I faced when analyzing this new album is that it lacked a clear message. Sure, she expresses emotion and lays out a storyline that details her love affair that took place over the last 3 years, but the listeners get no clear message from the title or content of the album.
Songs 2 and 3 are a little odd because they don’t really it into this concept of an album based on a detailed storyline of romance. Song 2 on the list is the eternally infamous Top 40 Hit “We Can’t Stop”. The concepts are kind of explicit so I won’t really go in depth, but she touches on drugs, alcohol, and expresses her infamous invincible attitude. “Bangerz”, the 3rd track as well as name of the album immediately follows “We Can’t Stop” in the lineup. When Miley revealed to the public that her new album would be coming out she explained that the title of the album was Bangerz and said “If you don’t know why my record is called BANGERZ you’ll know as soon as you hear it. Nothin’ but #BANGERZ”. I, as any normal person would be, was eager to listen to the title track because it’s known for encompassing the main idea or message of the album. I was unfortunately mistaken because Miley and her featured artist Britney Spears spend 2 minutes and 49 seconds singing about “strutting” their “stuff” and repeating the word “Bangerz”. This song was one of the main reasons why I was unable to decipher the message from her album. Due to the fact that this was one of just two tracks that didn’t talk about her love affair, there wasn’t much context and it didn’t speak to the rest of the album. If I were her I might have picked a different title track but she must know what she’s doing since she makes millions of dollars. The worst part of it all, though, is that I still don’t know what a banger is.
Song number one on the track list is a slow, relaxing song called “Adore You”. This begins the long story of love by addressing her significant other directly and establishing her devotion. She briefly mentions how fate and destiny brought them together in saying “God knew exactly what he was doing when he lead me to you”. Overall this is a very normal song considering some of her prior single releases. Song 4, coincidentally titled “4×4”, picks up the storyline that was developing earlier in the album. This song is unique because it shows that she hasn’t fully lost the rebel, southern belle aspect of her life even though she’s developed a new persona. This song narrates a typical run-in with the law when she and her significant other are out driving a “4×4” and being rebellious together. Although these songs are a great intro to her story line, they still don’t give me the sense as a listener that her album has a purpose.
Next on the list is a ballad-like song called “My Darlin”. This song shows a shift in the happy-go-lucky romance. Based on lyrics like “Take me as I am or not” and “Why don’t you stand, stand by me”, listeners can clearly see that she and her significant other are experiencing some trouble in paradise. Another famous single of hers, “Wrecking Ball”, follows “My Darlin”. This song is the climax of the love affair because it details the initial break up. In this song she looks back on the passion in the early stages of the relationship and states that she tried so hard to make everything work and invested so much that all she got from it was heartache and hurt in the end when it was over between her and her partner. “Wrecking Ball” serves as a closing statement or parting words in the break up. Once again, awesome story, but still no clue what her purpose behind the album is.
Track 7, also known as “Love, Money, Party” is about the shallow parts of life that don’t really have much meaning or value. She explains through the lyrics that money isn’t important because it can’t buy love but love is useless if there isn’t trust. This song talks about love in a relatively shallow manner when compared to other tracks on the album and parallels the brief time period after a break up when life kind of loses meaning. “Get It Right”, perhaps the most explicit track in some listeners’ opinions, follows “Love, Money, Party” with a BANG (lol). This song has numerous sexual undertones and discusses a reconciliation with her ex. Miley mentions in this song how she’s “Feeling right back home” when in her ex’s arms.
“Drive”, the next song on the list, is a shock to anyone that knows nothing about her and her ex’s relationship because it details her changed mindset regarding reconciliation. From hearing “Get It Right”, one would assume that the two end up becoming a couple again, but this song explains how she wakes up and realizes that she’s being toyed around with and decides to call it off. This song is interesting because the beat and melody really reflect the angry mood of the song. Following the angry trend, song 10, also known as “FU”, discusses her knowledge of another woman in her ex’s life. Like before, she kind of states how she was fooled by love and send a clear message to her ex that he isn’t worth her time anymore. This song is also really good about having the beat/melody reflect her emotion in the lyrics. Like any person does, Miley decides to follow a rough break up by putting out the impression that life is better than ever. “Do My Thang” is basically sending out a message to her ex that she’s living the dream and asking him not to concern himself with her and her life now. This song more closely resembles her life before the break up when she was partying and having a good time. At this point in the album I still don’t see a clear message. The only thing that’s clear to me is that she wants to let the world know every detail of her love life.
“Maybe You’re Right”, the next track in the series, embodies what girls are famous for doing in relationships-relapse. Even though she was almost over the whole thing, a turn of events has caused her to look back and ask herself if it’s worth another try. Even though it wasn’t stated anywhere in the album, I know from following the media coverage that Miley and her ex were previously engaged and at this point in their relationship he wanted to take her back. She ends up deciding that everything is already ruined and deciding that she’s officially going to move on in saying “This chapters done, moving on up and forward onto all that we’ll become”. The final track, “Someone Else”, discusses her life post break up. In this track she sings about how love has changed her into someone she wasn’t before and not necessarily in a good way. Even though she was the one who decided to break ties and move on, she explains that she hopes her ex would “tell” her “that now is not the end”. From this, I gathered that she will always love him but what he did to her made it so that she’s turned off from love and relationships for a while even if someone great were to pursue her.
Being the huge Miley fan that I am, I obviously loved the album and always will love her deep down, but that does not change how I feel about it as a critic. Once I was done listening I was still confused as to what her goal was in releasing this album. The majority of her songs detailed the romance and unfortunate break up between her and her fiance but isn’t an album supposed to make a statement on behalf of the artist and not sound like a Nicholas Sparks novel set on repeat? For anyone who is at all interested in sappy love ballads with a modern spin, I would definitely recommend this album but if you’re hoping to be majorly inspired I might suggest you look elsewhere- possibly Beyonce?

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