Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts
The idea that Miley Cyrus could turn herself into some kind of revolutionary rock ‘n’ roller looks okay on paper, and works well as a PR stunt, but in practice, in reality, she’s so far removed from anything resembling rock ‘n’ roll (aside from her new appearance/rock ‘n’ roll cosplay) that the whole thing is just ridiculous and cringey. Plastic Hearts, the former child star’s seventh studio album, has been hyped-up to be this career-defining reinvention, like she’s some sort of rock goddess that’s gonna save rock music as we know it. While Cyrus certainly has talent, and could definitely pull off a real rock record (her raspy voice could be great in the right context), this record is not what it’s marketed to be.
Rolling Stone reviewed Plastic Hearts and said that Cyrus “really had something to say.” I find fault with that. You can’t really have something to say if it’s not even mostly you saying it. One of the least rock ‘n’ roll things possible is having a writing committee write all your songs for you. So many of Plastic Hearts’ songs have multiple writers. The opener “WTF Do I Know” features five writers, while “Nightcrawling” (featuring Billy Idol) has eight, and “Prisoner,” a duet with Dua Lipa, has a grand total of nine writing credits. Cyrus gets a writing credit on every song, but with so many cooks in the kitchen, she doesn’t come off as being all that earnest.
Of course, Miley says “fuck” a few times in “WTF Do I Know,” and there’s some guitars in the chorus, so that’s a little rock ‘n’ roll, I guess. But with so much over-production, fake beats, et al, it sounds more like Radio Disney with a few “fucks” thrown in – so edgy. The title track and “Angels Like You” sound like radio-friendly soft-rock schlock, nothing remarkable, something your parents might listen to. “Prisoner,” “Gimme What I Want,” and “Nightcrawling,” as well as the single “Midnight Sky” sound like safe, ordinary, albeit sleek and shiny karaoke/dance music. While listening to “Bad Karma” (featuring Joan Jett), you want so bad for the song to be good, but it’s just not. The whole record comes off as vapid, garden variety, with no soul. Throughout the entire album there isn’’t one real rock song. There are pop songs, sure, but no rock songs.
Plastic Hearts feels quite plastic, with little heart. It’s phony baloney made by a poser (with a writing team of posers) to be enjoyed by posers. The kind of vinyl you’ll find in a Target store next to Nirvana’s Nevermind and a stack of Beatles reissues.