Seems like everyone's got an opinion about Miley Cyrus ... and that was before anyone actually got to hear Bangerz, her first album in more than three years and one of the boldest attempts at career reinvention in recent memory.
After all, Miley has made no attempt at hiding her aspirations with this album: It's her declaration of independence, her attempt at pushing pop music forward. It's also the opening salvo in her bid to become the biggest pop star on the planet. As she told the cameras in her recent MTV doc "Miley: The Movement," Bangerz "is bigger than just a record, it represents taking over the world."
And ambition like that is bound to have folks talking — no wonder she's pop's most polarizing star. So what are critics and fans saying about Bangerz? Here's a round-up of some early reviews:
'A Pop Blitz From A Hip-Hop Blueprint'
As you'd probably expect, critics keep finding new and interesting ways to weave Miley's very public persona into their reviews of her record, though several have also used that space to praise the production work on Bangerz, its personal subject matter and effortless blending of hip-hop and pop.
"Bangerz, is the onetime Disney star's fourth studio album, but her first as the master of her own destiny and — with two lead singles already landing at No.2 and No.1 — a pacesetter in music," Nick Catucci writes in a glowing review for Entertainment Weekly. "It's also utterly fresh, a pop blitz from a hip-hop blueprint, and proof that Miley won't settle for just shocking us. ... [S]he's obviously infatuated right now with hip-hop and its perpetual drive for new and exotic sounds. Bangerz may be about breaking up and wilding out, but it also agitates for the future."
"Cyrus at 20 is already an old hand at making records, she's new to the experience of calling her own shots, and on her first project since exiting the House of Mouse she appears determined to break in that license. There's plenty more provocation on Bangerz, which moves away from the glossy electro-pop sound of Cyrus' earlier records toward a grittier, hip-hop-inspired vibe. ... Yet for all the attitude here — there's also "Do My Thang," a live-it-up club jam co-produced by will.i.am — Bangerz reveals that Cyrus isn't just a twerk-bot programmed to titillate." — Mikael Wood, the Los Angeles Times.
'Stitched Together In The Dark'
While some praised Bangerz' blending of hip-hop and pop, others point to its lack of thematic focus — and desire to blur boundaries beyond recognition — as a weakness, one that detracts from Cyrus' open-book lyrics and party-hearty sentiments.
"She's adopted the bleary basslines and drum machines of southern hip-hop ... it just feels wrong to hear Hannah Montana use phraseology like 'Where Mike WiLL at?' and 'I'm-a do my thing. Yet, overall, there are more hits than misses ... the highlights are head-turners: the bittersweet 'We Can't Stop' and 'FU's' mix of raw heartbreak, sub-bass and scathing rhyming from French Montana is devastating. This brave record is Cyrus' game-changer." — Caroline Sullivan, The Guardian.
"When it's not an almighty attention-seeking device, Bangerz is an album about very public heartbreak. In an announcement that chimed fortuitously with the build-up to [its] release, it was recently confirmed that Cyrus' four-year relationship with actor Liam Hemsworth is no more. But ...Bangerz feels stitched together in the dark, and the attention-seeking begins to grate. ... It might be a different story if many of the hip-hop- and R&B-inspired cuts were better. 'SMS (Bangerz)' is a bad rip-off of Salt-N-Pepa's 'Push It,' with a phoned-in Britney guest spot. 'Love Money Party,' meanwhile, finds Cyrus rapping a series of non-sequitur buzzwords, gibberish loosely connected by a bit of production, driven by the inescapable purpose of Bangerz: a desire to wind people up for commercial, rather than transgressive, ends." — Kitty Empire, The Guardian's Observer
'OMG BANGERZ IS AMAZING'
And while the critics may go back and forth about Bangerz's sonics and socio-political sentiments, well, let's just say her fans don't have time for that. Instead, they're reacting to Miley's new album pretty much exactly how you'd expect them to: in ALL CAPS.
THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IVE LISTENED TO BANGERZ FULLY AND OMG MILEY— ~☮? m i m i ?☮~ (@simpskians) October 7, 2013
OMG BANGERZ IS AMAZING MILEY UR VOICE IS AWESOMEE @MIleyCyrus— The Vampire Diaries (@VampDiarieLove) October 7, 2013
🎶I found love that I thought was gonna last...🎶 #BANGERZ IS PERFECTIONN💘— Allie :) (@AllieAllie389) October 7, 2013