The first time I listened to Bangerz, I didn’t like it. There was something missing that I couldn’t wrap my brain around … until I saw Miley’s solid turn as host and musical performer this weekend on Saturday Night Live. It was during her opening monologue, when she proclaimed that Hannah Montana was murdered. Suddenly, something clicked. I gave it another listen and fell in love. Bangerz is a wild ride of rock- and hip-hop-infused tunes that showcases an artist taking risks and finally coming into her own.
One of the most powerful moments on the album is the haunting opening track, “Adore You,” which was was clearly written with Miley’s ex-fiancé Liam Hemsworth in mind. The spooky ballad sounds like it was plucked off Christina Aguilera’s 2002 album, Stripped, and with lyrics about the state of wedded bliss (“We were meant to be/in holy matrimony”), it takes a peek into the relationship that had us scanning tabloids for a hot minute last summer.
That’s where the reflections on love end — at least for a while. After the final chords of “Adore You,” Miley gets the party started with a lineup of up-beaters that’ll keep gay dancefloors — and drag queens — busy for a very long time. She struts with her idol Britney Spears on the fabulous, “SMS (Bangerz),” rides in the dirt with hip-hopper Nelly on “4×4,” and gets down on the funky bonus track,”On My Own,” all while creating a new pop sound that is fresher than anything else on radio right now (sorry, Katy). Two of my favorites, the Daft Punk-recalling “#GetItRight” and kiss-off anthem “FU,” add more flavor to an already spiced-up collection of work.
There are some doozies, too. My least favorites? I could do without “My Darlin,” a weird track featuring hip-hop artist Future. And I may be crucified by the gay gods for saying this, but ’80s rock-inspired power ballad “Wrecking Ball” doesn’t yank my chain, either. But maybe that’s mostly because of having to watch her naked ass in the video.
Pairing up with red-hot producers Mike Will Made It and Pharrell Williams, Miley certainly played her cards right when making this album. It shows she isn’t afraid to take risks artistically, and that all that twerking and posing with her tongue out was actually worth it. So take that, Sinead!
I’ve attached some of my highlights below. Check them out, then let me know what you think about the album in the comments section below.Have music you’d like to see featured on an upcoming Playdar? Email Patrick DeMarco at firstname.lastname@example.org.