Bangerz (Deluxe Version)

Bangerz (Deluxe Version)

Finally, with album number four, fans could see the real Miley Cyrus. The former Disney star said so herself, disowning her previous work and declaring 2013’s Bangerz her first official album. Gone are the days of Hannah Montana and “Party In the U.S.A.” Her 2010 LP, Can’t Be Tamed, hinted that she “can get a bit crazy,” a quality the closet provocateur fully realizes with this release. As wild as Cyrus portrays herself, though, her transformation was strategic, down to the twerking on live television and the swinging nude on a wrecking ball. She may have courted the controversy, but she also had the pop prowess and the pipes to deliver some of the decade’s most memorable hits. The album’s “We Can’t Stop”—a woozy glimpse into the singer’s partying lifestyle—reached No. 2 on the charts, and “Wrecking Ball” became her first No. 1 single. No longer bound to the Disney-owned Hollywood Records, Cyrus felt free to chase after her wildest whims, which included bringing in an impressive list of collaborators to join in the revelry. Britney Spears shows up on the brassy dance-floor rouser “SMS (Bangerz),” which samples Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” and has the two pop firebrands swapping cheeky raps, with Miley slipping in her best mic drop yet: “Why I need his millis when I got Billy on the speed dial?” She also embraces her country roots on the irresistible stomper “4X4,” featuring a cool and collected verse by Nelly, before jumping back into the hot, sweaty club with Big Sean on the wobbly “Love Money Party.” Even with the VIP guest list, Miley is never overshadowed. If anything, Bangerz is the first major showcase of her robust vocal range, which she uses to potent effect on the album’s hard-hitting moments—mostly, those inspired by her (first) failed romance with actor Liam Hemsworth. There is the towering torch song “Adore You” and the raw cabaret sizzler “FU,” in which she belts out the devastating opening line, “Oh, you broke my heart.” And then there’s “Wrecking Ball,” the gut-wrenching breakup ballad (and its risqué video) that manages to be both poignant and provocative—Miley’s most intoxicating combination.

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