Being Miley Cyrus
It’s a fine line between superfan and stalker, but, when it comes to Miley Cyrus, our reporter is ready to cross it
She’d better not bail. I’ll be furious if she cancels.
No, I’m not talking about a flaky best friend, I am talking about international pop star and twerking deviant Miley Cyrus, who is bringing her sold-out Bangerz tour to Ireland next week. The divil cancelled a number of US tour dates due to an allergic reaction to antibiotics and as a result left a large portion of her European fans, aka The Smilers, biting their nails and wailing “me nerves!”.
Since the dawn of time, Mileys have been at the centre of controversy, from rolling in the hay with Fidelma in Glenroe (ask your nan/mam/ auntie) to grinding on Robin Thicke at the VMAs. However, young Cyrus, the Marmite of the music world, used her scandals to shoehorn her name into every household with an internet connection. Miley has exposed herself a lot in the past year, figuratively and literally. So why am I still waiting for more at her show in the O2?
There have been zillions of think-pieces outlining her contribution to/destruction of feminism, music and humankind, many telling me why I really shouldn’t like her. But I can’t help it. I admire Miley’s chutzpah and I’m sure, given half the chance, we could become BFFs.
As Dolly Parton’s goddaughter and Mr Achy Breaky Heart’s daughter, country music is in Miley Cyrus’s blood and, damn, she can really sing. This detail was often missed when she was singing the awesome Party in the USA or the Jonas Brother-jeering 7 Things. With all of the shock tactics she has used in the past year, you can often forget that there is a talented performer behind that twerking arse.
One quick Youtube search will bring you to Miley’s Backyard Sessions. They feature Miley singing in her garden with just a microphone and a bluegrass band, and you realise that her gravelly voice is the reason why we should be paying any attention at all. Miley can make Dolly’s Jolene sound like her own creation or bring added heartache to the already devastating Lilac Wine, made famous by Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone and Jeff Buckley.
Instead of using her tonsils to deliver a ballad-heavy album that Adele could release or battling with Taylor Swift in the genre of country pop, Miley unhinged her jaw like a cobra, stuck out her tongue and had fun with her music. Luckily for her, the gamble paid off and Bangerz – a bizarre yet wonderful hybrid of pop and hip-hop – went straight to the top of the charts and spawned two number one hits, We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball, that defined the pop culture we consumed in 2013.
Obviously her risky gamble involved a game of strip poker which ensured that Miley’s left and right arse cheeks are now celebrities in their own right. Her fondness for semi-nudity often distracts from the fact that she can really sing. Dozens of other pop stars display their rumps ’n’ bumps in order to hide their lack of talent. Not Miley.
Of her infamous VMA performance, she said: “I wasn’t trying to be sexy. If I was trying to be sexy, I could have been sexy. I can dance a lot better than I was dancing.”
Miley is a graduate of the Mickey Mouse Club. Other notable graduates include Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling. If there is one thing that they can do, it’s “sexy”. As a teenager, Cyrus’s music videos were geared at tweens and played off her role on the Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, but as she – and her fans – grew older, her videos skipped straight to raunchy.
While us plebs celebrate our adulthood by going to college or learning how to drive, pop stars – who already have everything – link their artistic maturity to extreme sexual expression. The likes of Rolling Stone celebrated both Lindsay Lohan and Justin Bieber’s 18th birthdays with “Hot, Ready and Legal” headlines, and it’s almost expected that pop stars shed an item of clothing for every year they’ve been on earth.
We have seen virtually every orifice of Rihanna, every curve of Shakira and every sexual desire of Beyoncé, so why are we so offended by this young wan leaping about like a scantily clad toddler on Skittles? Instead of doing FHM sexy, she chooses to go all out with legs flailing and embodies the attitude of Cyndi Lauper on Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Her sexy isn’t for men, it’s for her.
Cyrus’s Bangerz tour – named after Superquinn sausages – parallels the criticism she gets online. She pokes fun at her wagging tongue and at the ruckus she causes whenever an inch of flesh is revealed. With flying hotdogs, Abraham Lincoln and an array of cartoon animals (designed by Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi), every show is gif-worthy.
Sure, the wild child schtick can be a bit tiresome, but it is also clever, controlled controversy. Although her Instagram feed boasts a love of the sweet Mary Jane and there was a brief legal-high scandal when she was 18, the controversy that has surrounded Miley in recent years is mainly a result of what she has done onstage, not off it. As less of her private life is revealed, she puts more into her career. And as her best friend, Leslie (soon to be replaced by me), once sagely said: “She’s just being Miley.”
Miley Cyrus’s Bangerz tour hits Belfast’s Odyssey Arena on Monday, May 19th, and Dublin’s O2 on, Tuesday, May 20th