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Jun. 22 2010 - 5:54 am | 2,740 views | 0 recommendations | 7 comments

Why Miley Cyrus’s sexy new image might backfire on her

Miley Cyrus has bad timing. She releases her new album, Can’t Be Tamed, today, just in time to go head to head with Eminem. Although she has been promoting the hell out of her third studio album as Miley Cyrus (to add to her four Hannah Montana soundtracks, one EP and assorted live and remix albums) with a sexy new video, a near girl-on-girl kiss onstage on Britain’s Got Talent (yawn), and a feud with Perez Hilton, another No. 1 debut is unlikely. Not with Eminem’s Recovery hitting stores the same day.

But even if Eminem weren’t around to screw up her chart-topping plans, would Can’t Be Tamed succeed in pushing Cyrus into the league of adult superstars? I have my doubts. The first single “Can’t Be Tamed,” made a nice debut on Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 8 a month ago, but it has been dropping steadily since. (It currently sits at No. 24 after four weeks.) The reviews for the album have been predictably blah, but by now Cyrus is pretty immune to bad reviews.

The problem with “Can’t Be Tamed” — beyond its generic dance-pop sound and the dreaded Auto-Tune overkill — might be the 17-year-old singer’s rush to be taken seriously as an adult. I’m not personally acquainted with any Miley Cyrus fans, but I can’t imagine that there are many of them over the age of 16. Her appeal up to now has hinged mainly on the relative wholesomeness of singles like “The Climb” and “Party in the USA,” which girls of a certain age can love and sing along to without blushing.

But when she starts taking off her clothes and simulating lesbianism onstage, what’s a teen — or tween — girl to do. She comes across like a little girl acting out, which I suppose many young ladies her age can relate to, but do they really want to go through her growing pains with her. I suspect that in her rush to mature, Cyrus will end up alienating some of her core fans. As for the older guys she now seems intent on pulling in, why would they turn to a 17 year old playing dress up when they could get the real deal from twentysomething stars like Katy Perry and Rihanna, whose sex peddling doesn’t seem so contrived, and not feel like a pedophile while doing it. If she really wants to stand out, wouldn’t she accomplish that more effectively by keeping her clothes on? It works for Taylor Swift, who is nearly three years Cyrus’s senior.

Few music stars have successfully made the transition from bubbly teen to bombshell adult (Janet Jackson did so brilliantly with her “Love Will Never Do Without You” video in 1990, when she was 24, while Britney Spears was selling sex from day one), and others have had a harder time holding the public’s attention. (Debbie Gibson’s “Losin’ Myself,” her 1993 bid for sex-symbol status, permanently halted her hit-making days, at the age of 22, and Hilary Duff stumbled around the time she compromised her, um, dignity, with 2007’s Dignity.) Where will Cyrus, who will not be a legal adult for another five months, fit in?

We’ll know for sure when the first-week sales are in, and in the coming weeks when Can’t Be Tamed shows if it’s got legs. If it doesn’t, it won’t necessarily be disastrous for Cyrus. Her pop fans might forgive her for one creative misstep and image miscalculation, and she now has a budding film career to fall back on. Let’s just hope she’s smart enough to continue acting her age on the big screen.


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  1. collapse expand

    Oh, but don’t you hope it works? Who wouldn’t want to see another train wreck like Britney, with one or two unwanted babies sprawled in the crack den and a few crazy drugged stares from “Miley” in her Cadillac mental-ward gurney? At least Kathy Griffin will have some new material, Lohan will get a BFF, and “Miley” can finally tell us all about her ritual abuse at the hands of Billy Ray. Really, how late do you honestly think that train’s gonna run?

  2. collapse expand

    Call me crazy, but I really liked “The Climb” and thought that would have been the perfect transition to her to a more Alt Country/Dixie Chicks kind of path. Like it or not, the girl comes from Country music royalty and she’s got a decent voice. I think she’s making a mistake going down the Britney pop path, because she actually has some talent. Britney, Christina Aguilera, et al always seemed so manufactured (yes, I do realize the irony of that statement).

  3. collapse expand

    Mr Helligar,

    May I respectfully submit that you don’t know what yout talking about.

    Ms. Cyrus can sing and just because you know auto tuning exists does not mean you can tell when it is being employed.

    While you may assume that all pop artists are the sum product of their marketers you miss the fact that, yes, they are people too with an actual real persona that also influences their artistic expression.

    I listen with an open mind and am impressed with her work so far. I think she will grow into a relevant mainstream musician as she matures, we’ll see who’s right.

    Also I would keep the fact that “Atlas Shrugged” changed your life to yourself, Mileys’ message is much more relevant than Ms. Rands’ utopian hogwash.

  4. collapse expand

    hm~ does anyone else find it at least somewhat amusing that the title of this album employs 3 words, but could have simply been called: “feral”… also~ since when is talent or breeding any indication of intelligence or maturity?

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