Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Miley Cyrus mixes hip-hop and pop on “Bangerz”

“I’m a female rebel, can’t you tell?” Miley Cyrus beckons on “4×4,” a track from her latest album, “Bangerz.”


On the singer’s fourth studio album, Cyrus shreds the final remains of her former Hannah Montana alter ego. Amidst several heartfelt ballads about her former engagement to Liam Hemsworth, the star raps and sings about taboo subjects from Molly to marijuana to sex toys. She’ll continue to receive flack for covering these topics, despite the fact that they’re a regular part of the vernacular of most college-aged Americans in 2013.

The album kicks off on a somber note with the ballad “Adore You,” a slow and weak start for an album that promises to be full of “bangers.” After “We Can’t Stop,” which most people have surely heard by now,  comes the album’s most hyped track: “SMS (Bangerz).” The song finds Britney Spears singing and rapping a verse (sans British accent) alongside Cyrus. While the pop star collaboration might make “SMS” an obvious radio single, its lack of a memorable hook could keep it from charting as highly as the album’s first two singles.

With harmonica, acoustic guitars and stomping drums, the Pharrell-produced “4×4” is the closest Cyrus comes to her Hannah Montana country-pop sound. “Now I got dirt all over my body,” she sings, epitomizing her country girl-gone-bad image, aided by a fitting rap verse from Nelly. “My Darlin,” the album’s second ballad, finds Cyrus paired with auto tune-enthusiast Future. Despite the odd match and the chorus’ clunky 3D movie metaphor, the song is still a beautiful retrospective on Cyrus’ engagement. “Why don’t you stand by me?” the singer ponders.

Aside from the summery snoozer “#GETITRIGHT,” the album’s second half is a strong close. Cyrus borrows from the EDM and trap music crazes as she continues to explore the heartbroken and going-out-and-partying sides of her breakup. “Love Money Party” is a fun track featuring a verse from Big Sean, who talks about flying to foreign islands and partying with models. On “Drive,” Cyrus recreates the hypnotic dubstep-influenced sound of the best tracks on “Rated R,” Rihanna’s post-Chris Brown comeback album.

The best moments on “Bangerz” are still its first two singles, two of the most successful releases of her career. For all the controversy its video and subsequent televised performances caused, “We Can’t Stop” is still the best party song on the album. Likewise, “Wrecking Ball” is the best of the album’s ballads, with a video to match the barefaced emotion of the song. In an album that often showcases the power of Cyrus’ vocals, her pipes are the most impressive as she smashes into the song’s first chorus.

At this point in each of their respective careers, “Bangerz” is the best move either Cyrus or Mike WiLL Made It, the album’s main producer, could have made. Their collaboration allowed the up-and-coming producer to show off the range of his musical skills while showcasing the versatility of Cyrus’ voice and personality. At the very least, it has certainly made them two of the biggest names in pop music this year.


Jake Reed can be reached at [email protected].


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