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Miley Cyrus’ ‘Plastic Hearts’ is a stunning reinvention 

Miley Cyrus‘s captivating voice has become a mainstay of modern pop.

Beginning her career as a Disney child Hannah Montana, Cyrus showcased a rebellious streak from a young age. With 2006’s Hannah Montana Soundtrack she landed her first Number One album on the US charts. As the eighth best-selling album of that year, Hannah Montana Soundtrack sold over 3.6 million copies in the U.S alone and 4.5 million worldwide.

Miley Cyrus in 2006.

The Evolution of Miley Cyrus

In 2007’s Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus paved the way for two of her most renowned songs, ‘The Climb’ and ‘7 Things’. She found even greater success with ‘Party In The U.S.A.’ in 2009.  2010’s ‘Can’t Be Tamed’ teased a move away from her innocent child star persona, foreshadowing a move toward a more mature direction. 2013 singles ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ completed it.

Miley projected a rebellious, sexual and confident public persona. With her hair tied in a short blonde bob, she pole danced at the Teen Choice Awards and Twerked on Robin Thicke. She openly confessed to smoking marijuana. The move was not without critics. In hindsight, her work opened up important conversations about feminism as well as women’s reclaiming of their bodies and public image.

A week before the release of Plastic Hearts, Cyrus shared a cover from her seventh studio album. On it, she paid tribute to the new wave sensation Blondie, covering 1978 single ‘Heart of Glass’. It reflected another evolution in Cyrus’s style.

Cyrus channels Blondie.

Plastic Hearts is a Reinvention

Singing with a harsher and more aggressive tone, Cyrus portrayed the song in a new light. She was now playing to the archetype of the angry woman. Dubbed as a “force to be reckoned with” by Blondie’s frontwoman Debbie Harry, the song marked the introduction of another new Miley.

With her choppy mullet and Rockstar persona, Miley Cyrus’ new record is riddled with classic rock elements. The album opens with ‘WTF Do I know’. A thick bassline and Cyrus’ harsh vocals evoke a classic rock sound. “I’m completely naked but I’m calling it fashion,” she sings as she owns her body and dismisses her controversies. The track follows a simple pop chord progression with digital drums creating the feel of 1980s production. ‘Prisoner’, a Collaboration with UK pop star Dua Lipa who topped charts in 2020 with debut album Future Nostalgia, strikes a similar tone.

Miley Cyrus Owns Her Sexuality

Miley further owns her sexuality with ‘Gimme What I Want’, which details Cyrus being fine on her own if someone doesn’t want to love her like she wants them to. “You know what I need and no one likes to be alone… So give me what I want or I’ll give it to myself.” She stacks her vocals and harmonies beautifully before the ‘90’s still bass-heavy breakdown towards the end of the track. Sparkly guitars enter as the song comes to a satisfying close.

Cyrus shows sensitivity and vulnerability in title track Plastic Hearts. Referencing The Rolling Stones1968 single ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, the track starts with a similar drum beat and vocal ad-libs. “Lost in black hole conversations, sunrise suffocation, keep me up all night… I just want to feel something”. The song turns more upbeat but remains introspective, with a fast-paced ‘60s  swing style drumbeat as well as a similarly inspired chord progression and backing vocals.

Miley further elevates the album’s level of openness and confessional tone with ‘Never Be Me’. “If you’re looking for stable, that’ll never be me,” she sings over atmospheric synths.

Cyrus and Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks.

Plastic Hearts Pays Homage to Rock’s Greats

Cyrus pays homage to many of the rock’s greatest acts on the record, beautifully citing her inspirations and where her production aesthetic came from. Synth and drum-heavy pop-rock banger ‘Night Crawling’ featuring the renowned Billy IdolJoan Jett & the Blackhearts feature on ‘Bad Karma’, a song about cheating on a lover. “I don’t give a f***, I don’t believe in luck, I do what I wanna do” Miley repeats. “I’ve always picked a giver ‘cos I’ve always been a taker”.

She also remixes her recent single ‘Midnight Sky’ with rock legend Stevie Nicks and her ‘80s smash hit ‘Edge of Seventeen’ which was sampled in the post-chorus of the song’s original release. The remix opens with the guitars from Nicks’ original before melding into Cyrus’s song before moving back to Nick’s original in the post-chorus as she takes over the second verse. Both voices work together beautifully, combining two powerful forces for women in music.

Miley Cyrus has not only produced a brilliant record but has also analyzed her own career and the public scrutiny it has drawn. Her rebellious nature fits perfectly within Plastic Hearts‘ rock context. Once again, Cyrus has done a brilliant job of reinventing herself. With Plastic Hearts, Miley Cyrus presents herself as an artist who can be taken seriously for who she is and who she wants to be.

Read more of GG‘s reviews here.

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