“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”
– The Byrds, My Back Pages, 1967
Youth is a feeling, not a function of wisdom versus time. Miley Cyrus seems wiser and more youthful on her sixth studio album, “Younger Now”.
The 24- year- old’s career started at age 11 with a Disney Channel show, Hannah Montana. She tried the edgy teen thing after Hannah; it worked abroad, but flopped at home. She made a Nicolas Sparks movie and got engaged to Liam Hemsworth. Everyone thought she would settle down and get married like a good Southern girl. Then, Bangers happened.
Most people remember Miley being naked and generally provocative. But since Nipplepalooza, she’s been working her butt off: filling in for Ellen, judging The Voice and fighting for women’s rights. She dropped an experimental album, Dead Petz, in 2015. Oh yea. And she championed the hell out of recreational marijuana.
Miley started promoting a cleaner image last May with this genius self- styled Billboard cover story. Miley explains returning to her roots:
“[Country fans] don’t really take me seriously as a country artist. One, I haven’t given them that music. But I’ve got a tattoo of Johnny Cash’s autograph that he gave me when I was a little girl that says, “I’m in your corner.” Dolly Parton is my fucking godmother. The fact that country music fans are scared of me, that hurts me.”
Unlike Taylor Swift’s transformation, Younger Now feels authentically Miley. She shot the “Malibu” video in her yard. She’s been performing Hannah Montana songs on TV. Younger Now has traces of old- school country, rockabilly, psychedelic rock, and, of course, pop. Fans of the singer’s “dirty South hip- hop” will come up short (however, “Bad Mood” has the satisfying stomp of “F U”). So will Blake Shelton’s fans. Miley choses classic country over flashy Top 40 country. It’s Americana, Miley style.
Miley sings about relationships and world peace on Younger Now. Miley supported Hilary Clinton during the 2016 election, rallied for Planned Parenthood at the Women’s March and founded the Happy Hippie Foundation to help homeless LGBT Youth, endangered animals, public school teachers and a slew of other causes.
Following Trump’s election, she advocated for movements to “create the America we want.” With Dolly Parton, she describes a “Rainbowland” filled with acceptance and love. Her video for “Younger Now” features elderly strippers, trans women and gay couples.
Miley might be trying to win the heartland, but she’s not right- winging it. Miley will name names, drop swears and make ugly faces. Topics like the Las Vegas shooting or abortion don’t scare her off- she sounds off on them. Miley might be a millennial, but she’s the best kind: vocal, proactive, and personable, winning over every network on TV and advocating for her causes to 73 million followers.
On top of her authenticity and hope for change, Miley has some excellent pipes. Whether she’s crooning an original or belting a classic, the girl can sing. After all, Hannah Montana was a show about a girl who “just wanted to sing.”*
Miley Cyrus is a national treasure.
Tour dates coming.
*Actual quote from The Hannah Montana movie