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Fans asked and she delivered — Miley Cyrus’s well anticipated rock album, “Plastic Hearts” is a homage to every version of herself. With mixed reviews, critics have deemed the album as an eager pursuit to hide the image of her past, a way for Cyrus to shamefully cover the awkward and questionable Bangerz era, but it is the opposite. The 28-year-old embraces her child rock star fame with Hannah Montana, the psychedelic strangeness that was Miley Cyrus and the Dead Petz, and even the Younger Now era of contemporary ballads. This time around, Cyrus recognizes her tabloid covered upbringing and everything in between, rebranding herself as an 80’s punk rock princess.
However, this isn’t just another era of Cyrus. In her album, “Can’t Be Tamed,” she covers Poison’s 1988 song “Every Rose has Its Thorn,” but something was clearly missing. In 2012 Cyrus covered Dolly Parton’s, (Cyrus’s godmother) ballad “Jolene,” yet it still sounded like a naive attempt from the former pop star. Eight years later, Cyrus made a resurgence over the summer with her Blondie cover of “Heart of Glass,” and essentially proved to the world her growth as a vocalist and hinted at her rock star potential featured throughout the coming album.
With influences of 80’s alternative and classic rock, the album has features of rock and roll greats like Joan Jett, Billy Idol, and Stevie Nicks. Yet, the features do not understate Cyrus and instead illuminate her ability to generously take on and succeed at any genre as an artist.
However successful in reintroducing these sounds, what is most impactful is the personality of the album. Cyrus shows humility not seen traditionally in her work that makes the album personal, authentic, and vulnerable. She introduces these qualities quickly with the first lines of the album, “I’m not trying to have another conversation: Probably not going to want to play me on your station.” The singer embraces these insecurities of not being taken seriously as an artist. She tackles recognizing her identity in, “Never Be Me.” “If you’re looking for stable that will never be me, if you’re looking for faithful that will never be me.” She even alludes to her past, being a role model for kids and simultaneously growing up in the spotlight with every wrong move covering tabloids, “They say its bad karma when you live a double life,” she said in Bad Karma featuring Joan Jett.
Even so, Cyrus is coming out of a 10-year-long relationship, and divorce of Liam Hemsworth, and her album covers that relationship with a perspective of maturity and growth. Cyrus’s once known anthem, “Wrecking Ball,” is put to shame with the chorus in “Hate Me.” “Would it be too hard to say goodbye? I hope that it’s enough to make you cry / maybe that day you won’t hate me.” “High,” is a soft spoken ballad, somberly reflecting on her relationship, “Sometimes I stay up all night ‘cause you don’t ever talk to me in my dreams. And I think about eventually you’re holding me.”
“Golden G String,” is the last song on the album and is the perfect bow on Miley’s present. It is the embodiment of Cyrus coming full circle, “The told me I should cover it so I went the other way, I was trying to own my power, I was trying to work it out. At least It gives the paper something to talk about,” says the artist. In the album, Cyrus takes back the power once taken from her. Reflecting on the judgment she received as a teenager for embracing her body and asking the question, would the same sentiment be said to me today? In a broader perspective, she questions the male gaze, “But oh, that’s just the world that we’re livin’ in, the old boys hold all the cards and they ain’t playin’ gin. And you dare to call me crazy, have you looked around this place.” The song was supposedly written in 2017 or 2018 and inspired by Donald Trump’s famed quote from 2016, “Grab em’ by the pussy.”
2020 was not the ideal year: Coronavirus, murder hornets, wildfires, and everything unthinkable plagued it. Yet, in the midst of all of it, Miley Cyrus might just have saved rock and roll.