The Miley Phenomenon

It has only been four months since Miley Cyrus released her party anthem “We Can’t Stop” and thus came bursting back into the forefront of everybody’s minds, but she has stirred up more controversy in that short time than many celebrities do in their entire careers. In an effort to show why Miley won’t be leaving the spotlight anytime soon, here’s a recap of the events that have created the current “Miley Phenomenon,” dancing druggie teddy bears and all.

June 3, 2013: “We Can’t Stop” released – La da di da di, we like to party, but hopefully not as hard as Miley and her friends. The insanely catchy first single off “Bangerz,” Miley’s fourth studio album, hit the radio waves at the end of last school year and immediately became the song of the summer. And when the accompanying video was released on ­­­June 19, the world finally understood just how far Miley had moved from her Hannah Montana days. The video depicts a partier’s fantasyland, featuring Miley twerking, dancing with a giant teddy bear and making out with a doll, among many other unseeable actions. “We Can’t Stop” also taught us that Miley likes to stick her tongue out a lot. The video made its rounds on the Internet at crazy-high speeds; it even broke the record for the fastest video to reach 100 million views on VEVO, hitting this milestone after only 37 days.

August 25, 2013: MTV Video Music Awards performance – You probably don’t remember this, but Miley performed “We Can’t Stop” and was featured in Robin Thicke’s performance of “Blurred Lines” at the 2013 VMAs (just kidding – I seriously doubt there is anybody who hasn’t seen or at least heard of this spectacle!). Parents, media officials and the general public were outraged and disgusted by the twerktastic show. It started with her dancing across the stage in very little clothing and sticking out her tongue a lot, and soon escalated into using a foam finger as it had probably (hopefully!) never been used before and Jersey turnpike-ing in even less clothing on a man almost double her age. Miley received a huge amount of criticism for such an oversexualized performance, made even more horrifying by her being only 20 years old. More tweets were sent about the performance than had been published about the Super Bowl, and it continued to be talked about for weeks after.

September 9, 2013: “Wrecking Ball” video released – Miley released “Wrecking Ball,” the second single off “Bangerz,” as a digital download on the day of the VMAs. The song is an emotional pop ballad, and with its less party-centric material, nobody believed the corresponding music video would top “We Can’t Stop.” How wrong we all were. The video cuts between a tight shot of a teary-eyed Miley singing, an underwear-clad Miley knocking down walls with a sledgehammer and then licking said hammer, and a naked Miley swinging on a literal wrecking ball. Once again, the video was e-mailed, tweeted and posted on every Facebook wall alongside some claim of total shock at “what Miley had gotten herself into now omg!!!” And once again, the video shattered VEVO records, receiving 19.3 million views in its first 24 hours online. Despite the uproar at the video, the song became Miley’s first ever number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

October 8, 2013: “Bangerz” released – Finally, after four months of Miley “just being Miley,” the album was released. Featuring cameos by artists like Britney Spears, Nelly and Big Sean, “Bangerz” is overall a pop album, but shows extreme variety from one track to the next. Miley goes from belting her heart out on “Wrecking Ball,” to rapping about her priorities on “Love Money Party,” to reaching back to her country roots on “4x4.” In the week leading up to the album release, a documentary, Miley: The Movement, detailing the process of creating the album, premiered on MTV and Miley was the host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live (watch her amazing acoustic performance of "We Can't Stop" here). “Bangerz” was the number one album on iTunes on the day of its release and has received generally positive reviews from music critics, but they remained largely unsure how to feel about her public persona.

If there’s anything to be taken away from Miley’s behavior throughout 2013, it’s that the girl will do just about anything to stay relevant, and that’s exactly what is going on now with the continuing “Miley Phenomenon.” She doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, even being quoted as saying that she has already begun work on her fifth studio album, despite preparing to head out on a 2014 tour for “Bangerz.” Miley wants people to talk about her, regardless of whether it’s done in a positive or negative context, and she knows what it takes to accomplish this. As shocking as most of her antics are, they are all meticulously planned and painstakingly executed in order to elicit the desired reaction from the public – in the documentary, she described herself as a “strategic hot mess.” In this way, Miley deserves praise. She has learned how to play the game, and she is in it to win it, yet she continuously asserts that she is just being herself. She claims to be happier and more confident now than ever, and if that’s true and manifests itself in twerk sessions and strutting around in as little clothing as possible, then more power to her. Miley Cyrus came back into the public eye like a wrecking ball, and I predict that she’s here to stay for a very long time.

 

Images from:

  • billboard.com
  • ryanseacrest.com
  • phoenixnewtimes.com
  • theguardian.com
  • celebuzz.com
  • nerdist.com