On Saturday, April 6th, Miley Cyrus opened her show at Brooklyn's Barclay’s Center, a stop on her much-hyped Bangerz Tour, by sliding down a giant tongue that emerged from a projection of her face. Needless to say, it drove the crowd wild. Hoards of girls were sent into a screaming frenzy while they jumped around in high-waisted shorts and crop tops, their hair pulled up in the now infamous tiny twin knots she sported during her VMA performance. It doesn’t matter whether or not you think she can sing, if you love her or just flat-out hate her, no one can deny that Cyrus knows how to put on a show.
Cyrus’s high energy performances were paired with dozens of over-the-top props and visuals: a golden car on which she gyrated her hips to the beat of “Love, Money, Party”, a kiss cam where she encouraged the audience to ‘use a lot of tongue’ during “Adore You”, a large hot dog she straddled and rode above the crowd, and even an Abraham Lincoln impersonator with whom Cyrus simulated oral sex during the explosive finale of “Party in the USA.” While all of these were equally crowd-stimulating representations of the pop culture scene Miley helped create, the one that really got fans reeling was the giant statue of her recently deceased dog, Floyd. The intimidating structure emerged from the darkness behind the stage with eyes glowing and lasers tracing psychedelic patterns across its body. Cyrus burst into one of her older hits, “Can’t Be Tamed,” while wearing furry, black and white chaps before throwing herself onto the giant dog’s leg in a sudden burst of emotion.
After the song, Cyrus explained the heartache that she felt when she lost her beloved Floyd. In a heartfelt moment, Cyrus thanked the audience for being the first ones who had been able to make her smile in days, acknowledging how blessed she was that this (the death of her dog) was one of the hardest struggles she has had to face. Here, Cyrus opened up to show those in the audience, like me, who were fans of her party-worthy songs but not all her wild, sexually charged antics a different and more endearing side of her. And, while of course the party bangers were the main attractions of the night, she pulled off some very well-selected, emotionally believable acoustic covers that included the likes of Bob Dylan, Coldplay, Lana Del Rey, and Dolly Parton. It was refreshing to see her perform without the distractions of sexed-up teddy bears and twerking back-up dancers, and even more refreshing to realize that she does not actually need all that to connect with her fans.
At the end of the day, after watching her live performance, do I think Cyrus is a good musician? No. In truth, she is a pop star—part of a class of artists that can barely be considered musicians at all; but, she’s a top- quality entertainer and a figurehead of modern pop culture. She has worked out how to shock us, how to get us dancing, and how to keep us entertained. Now, it’s a matter of flexing her attention-stealing skills to prove to the world that she is worth being taken seriously.
by Nabila Wirakusumah '17