MILEY CYRUS (with Shaad D'Souza)
Music critic Shaad D’Souza joins DJ Louie to talk about one of modern pop’s most captivating, divisive and perplexing figures, Miley Cyrus. Louie and Shaad open with a break down of Miley’s emergence on the smash Disney show, Hannah Montana, how the character’s own double life as a pop star and a “normal girl” mirrored Miley’s own, and the chaste image and anodyne pop-rock empowerment anthems on which Miley-as-Hannah made her name and, later in career, had to torch. They next dive into Miley’s various, often bold but almost always awkward attempts to break out of the Hannah Montana box, first with her calculated pivot towards sexed-up dance pop on 2010’s nonstarter Can’t Be Tamed and much more effectively on 2013’s Bangerz, a fascinating, garish record that repositioned the former Disney kid as a freewheeling, hip hop-obsessed party monster, a brazen and un-self-aware culture vulture and, for the first and perhaps only time in her a career, a trendsetting pop star. Louie and Shaad debate the record’s prescient centering of trap in mainstream pop, as well its table-setting fusion of rap and country, how we view Miley’s egregious cultural appropriation through a contemporary lens, and whether the album’s whirlwind of controversy obscured some of the record’s delicate, honest songwriting and virtuoso vocal performances. Later, they discuss how Miley squandered a lot of remaining good will with her next two projects, 2015’s utterly bizarre Wayne Coyne-collabo Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz and 2017’s middle-of-the-road country-pop-leaning Younger Now, and if Miley has effectively repositioned herself in recent years with a series of well-received live performances and covers and a turn towards rock homage on her 2020 album Plastic Hearts. Finally, Louie and Shaad rank Miley Cyrus in the official Pop Pantheon.