Scroll back from the endless loop of Miley-hype for just a moment and Bangerz reveals itself to be a reinvention album, with equal effort laid down on wax as presented on her image. But if the new, Terry Richardson vibes of her persona feel a little overdone, Bangerz is straight-up imposed, an album crafted for an entertainer without an entity. With Mike Will, Pharrell and will.i.am on board as production crew, the album’s beats show enough potential and do succeed when Miley pulls them off. For most of Bangerz though, Miley boggles back and forth between pop archetypes, rarely settling in on a sound of her own. Take “We Can’t Stop,” a song written with the intention of being recorded by Rihanna. Miley sings it as if at karaoke night, complete with Rihanna’s long, vowel-chants substituting the hook. Nearly every take on a new sound feels hollow—from Miley’s attempt at rap on “Love Money Party” to returning to a Billy Ray twang on “4 x 4,” Bangerz just can’t hone in on something tangible. The blog buzzword of “appropriation” rings true on Bangerz, but on the record, it’s appropriation as a failure, a young star/vehicle-to-make-money unable to pull from her influences and create something unique.
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