It was Oscar Levant who once said “there’s a fine line between genius and insanity” and it’s fair to say that the world’s population was in agreement on Sunday night during Miley Cyrus’ performance at the MTV VMAs. Insane.
If you haven’t seen it, it might be quite difficult to comprehend. The first 14 seconds of her performance were fine. Well, the 14 seconds where she was concealed inside an enormous teddy bear, but she then emerged, her tongue flopping all over the place like a fish out of water and the rest of her body writhing around as if she had developed a very serious neurological condition. She attempted to ‘twerk’ about stage as she sang her single ‘We Can’t Stop’, but things were taken to a whole new level as Robin Thicke joined her to duet ‘Blurred Lines’ – at this point she was dressed in tight nude coloured bra and pants and proceeded to energetically grind on Thicke, whilst performing slightly disturbing actions with a foam finger.
It was all a rather alarming affair. What happened to the small town girl we all, ahem, knew and loved, from Hannah Montana? In 2011, the final episode of the Disney series aired, and Cyrus hung up her cowgirl boots for good, seemingly no one expected her 2013 reincarnation, but looking at past child stars, was it always on the cards? Britney Spears is a prime example, transforming from her appearance in The Mickey Mouse Club to being a ‘Slave 4 U’ in just a few short years. More recently The Amanda Show actress Amanda Bynes has been hitting the headlines for her erratic behaviour. Of course the signs were all there with Cyrus. For a start, there was that time on her 19th birthday where she said “you know you’re a stoner when your friends make you a Bob Marley cake. You know you smoke way too much fuckin’ weed.” There was also that time earlier this year where she collaborated with Snoop Lion (what?!), and uploaded a video to YouTube of her twerking in a onesie… oh, and that time when she cut off all her hair.
However, it was in June when the real drama started. Cyrus’ video for ‘We Can’t Stop’ was only slightly less controversial than her VMAs performance as she spanked, thrusted, twerked, and french kissed a doll. It was shocking to see the transformation from the girl who a few years ago was line dancing to the ‘Hoedown Throwdown’, to this 20-year-old woman who is racy, provocative and scandalous.
Then the best thing happened. This tweet. With one hashtag, she set the internet alight. Who knew such a solitary album title could have such an impact. #BANGERZ was trending within minutes. The sheer ridiculousness of the whole thing had reached a new level. What kind of self-respecting musician would call their album BANGERZ?
But with the furore on Twitter yesterday about her performance at the VMAs, I found myself questioning the outrage that her behaviour over the last few months has caused. The public aren’t alien to performances like this, far from it. How come Rihanna can sing about whips and chains in ‘S&M‘, whilst grinding on men taped to tables in the video? Lady Gaga is also a ‘prime offender’. Perhaps everyone has forgotten the video for ‘Telephone’ in which she contorts in a jail cell, only wearing fishnet tights and black tape across her nipples.
So we can conclude that Miley Cyrus is actually insane. But wait. What’s that? Her single went to number one and is now heading back up the charts again? Her VMA performance caused 306,000 tweets per minute? Her name has been trending on Twitter since Sunday? Preorders of her album have shot up? If anything’s for certain, her management must be loving every second of it.
Miley Cyrus certainly knows exactly what she’s doing. Her polemic image has got everyone talking, and as the old phrase goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. You may find her tacky and attention seeking but there’s, no doubt, much more to come. Miley Cyrus is a modern-day musical genius and has firmly manifested herself as one of the very few female pop megastars of the moment. Bravo.
Bangerz will be released in the UK on 8th October 2013.