By Molly Szymanski
From Hannah Montana to “Heart of Glass,” if Miley Cyrus has shown us anything, it’s range— and her new album is no different. After going through countless style changes, Cyrus has settled on a pop and rock fusion for her latest.
She said it herself in an interview with Apple Music: “this is the most Miley record of all time.”
“Plastic Hearts” begins with a Rolling Stones-Esque intro on “WTF Do I Do Now,” hinting at her new era as an aspiring rock star. You hear similar sounds with her covers of “Zombie” by the Cranberries and “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, which blew up online earlier this fall.
While covering these iconic songs drummed up support, the album’s numerous legendary featured artists made this stylistic transition way smoother. “Bad Karma” features Joan Jett, Billy Idol collaborated on “Night Crawling” and popular track “Edge of Midnight” samples from Stevie Nicks’s “Edge of Seventeen.” Coincidentally, these ended up being some of the strongest tracks on the album.
What stood out in “Plastic Hearts” that separates it from Cyrus’s older albums were those style trademarks of older rock ‘n’ roll: deeper, raspy vocals, strong guitar, bass and drum lines. It sounded more authentic and it definitely fits her new aesthetic.
As with most things, though, the change from pop to rock in Cyrus’s career is obviously going to be gradual. “Midnight Sky” featuring Dua Lipa and the titular track “Plastic Hearts” have crumbs of those aforementioned elements in them, but they are very much pop-forward and reminiscent of her recent hits on “Bangerz” and “Younger Now.”
While I get why she did this, it felt like a bit of a cop-out. A completely new Miley was advertised, and it was just not delivered in some of these songs. What was ridiculously effective, however, were the messages on the album.
Even if the style of music isn’t for you, the meanings are objectively moving. Cyrus tackles loss and hardship in her songs and channels them into growth. One of the things that impacted her, among a divorce and the loss of her grandmother, was losing her house in a fire in November of 2018.
“Nature did what I now see as a favor and destroyed what I couldn’t let go of for myself.
I lost my house in a fire but found myself in its ashes,” Cyrus said in a Genius Q&A.
“Plastic Hearts” shows nothing but unique realness in its tracks. Cyrus calls out her flaws in “Angels like You” and “Never Be Me,” but still flaunts her style throughout the album. Its unapologetic spirit is complemented by the bold change of genre, creating a record that symbolizes accepting a hard past and turning a new leaf.
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Miley Cyrus’s Facebook Page.
Molly Szymanski is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.