Sunday, December 06, 2020

Miley Cyrus - Plastic Hearts album review

Miley Cyrus has been a force to be reckoned with ever since she stepped into the spotlight as a young teenager in the early 2000s. Although back then it was her portrayal of a teenage popstar living a double life that first grabbed the general public’s attention, she’s stayed in the spotlight grabbing people’s attention throughout the years. And rightly so, for numerous reasons.

From wrecking balls to public breakups, Miley Cyrus has had her fair share of public scrutiny thrusted upon her -- but that’s all just noise, and not exactly the kind you want to hear if you’re going to wholeheartedly listen to Plastic Hearts for what it is.

You’ve probably heard of Miley’s “scandals” before, but Plastic Hearts retells the story in Cyrus’s own voice, and this rock-influenced retelling might just be the best work she’s ever done so far in the fourteen years of her career. 

When videos of Miley covering Temple of the Dog’s “Say Hello 2 Heaven” at the Chris Cornell tribune went viral in January of 2019, people praised her for deep raspy voice range and begged for a rock album. Finally, over just a little more than one year later, Miley delivered.

The album starts with pop-rock track “WTF Do I Know,” leading with fast verses and an explosive chorus filled with heavy drums and lyrics that prove Miley is unapologetic about her scandalous persona and the public’s opinion of her in the past: I'm completely naked but I'm makin' it fashion / Maybe gettin' married just to cause a distraction / Here to tell you somethin' that you don't know / What the fuck do I know?

“Plastic Hearts” shares the album title, and fits the overall 80s pop rock theme of the album. Although the track is upbeat and catchy with an edgy guitar solo reminiscent of something Eagles might do just before the bridge, Cyrus sings about a dismal commercial California party scene and wanting to “feel something” in the lyrics, a topic that’s been relevant in rock songs over the years but feels even more so when you consider how she started out in the already-jaded entertainment business.

“Angels Like You” is the first acoustic ballad off the album and quite possibly the most vulnerable song off it. The personal lyrics with acoustic guitar make it a stark contrast to most of the other songs on the album, and it’s the powerful vocals and emotions from Miley that really make the track stand out as possibly the best one off the album. The lyrics talk about the fracturing of a relationship, a recurring theme on the album: I know that you're wrong for me / Gonna wish we never met on the day I leave /  I brought you down to your knees / 'Cause they say that misery loves company

Cyrus teams up with Dua Lipa for the track “Prisoner,” a pop track about being in a controlling relationship that interpolates Kiss’s “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” and Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” - tracks which were both popular in the late 70s and early 80s, which just further reinforces Cyrus’s vision for this album in a clever way. “Gimme What I Want” samples Britney Spears’s “Gimme More” but has a dark, unique production with a deep bass throughout as Cyrus sings about her ability to be independent. Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa “Prisoner”

The tracks throughout the album so far have done a satisfying and entertaining job of having the 80s pop/rock vibe that Cyrus completely owns, but it’s tracks like “Night Crawling” ft. Billy Idol, “Bad Karma” ft. Joan Jett and the “Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix)” ft. Stevie Nicks that further solidify Cyrus’s right to be categorized as an 80s rocker despite it being 2020. These tracks not only feature some of the most popular, iconic rockstars from the 70s and 80s but allow us to see how exactly Miley holds her ground alongside them.

Cyrus and Joan Jett have teamed up before, like for a performance of “Different” during Miley’s Backyard Sessions in 2015, but “Bad Karma” takes their synergy to an entirely different level. The track has playful, breathy moans from Cyrus and Jett throughout as well as their commanding, signature raspy vocals and lyrics reflecting both of their heartbreaker reputations: They say it’s bad karma being such a heartbreaker / I’ve always picked a giver ‘cause I’ve always been the taker / I’d rather just do it then I’ll think about it later Miley Cyrus, Joan Jett perform “Different”

While most of the tracks off the album showcase Miley’s strong, independent side and “born to run” attitude, tracks like “Angels Like You,” “High,” and “Never Be Me” prove just how well Miley can pull off slow, authentic vulnerable songs. On “High,” she sings over a country-pop acoustic guitar about walking away from someone whereas on “Never Be Me” she delivers raw emotions while singing about how she’ll never “get up and leave.”

Hidden between the pop-rock hits and emotional ballads are songs like “Hate Me” and “Golden G String” that show us a much more laid back side to Miley, one that is reminiscent of her Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz era, and one that has her nonchalantly asking questions “I wonder what would happen if I die?” and “You dare to call me crazy, have you looked around this place?”

By the time the album finishes, we’re left with several sides of Miley and each one more authentic than the last: wild child who holds her ground alongside rockstar legends like Joan Jett, a carefree spirit who playfully questions the people who question her and a brokenhearted, painfully self-aware young girl turned global sensation.

No matter what you may hear about Miley Cyrus, it’s her music that really speaks for itself. Superficial stories and public opinions will constantly change, but in the end it’s Miley’s ability to consistently deliver quality music - no matter what genre - and stunning vocals alongside unaffected lyrics that will remain. As a listener, it’s obvious that Miley has heart for what she does - no matter what it’s made of. 

Emily Savidge

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