by Catherine Goldberg ’20
In Hannah Montana: The Movie, Miley Stewart gets shipped off to Tennessee in hopes of rediscovering her roots. As a homegrown farm girl, MileyCyrus’s character grapples with an identity crisis over whether she should keep or ditch the iconic blond wig that allows her to be a world-wide popstar.
The classic Disney movie, which many Providence College students can probably recall from their childhood, seems to relate to Cyrus’s new back-to-her-roots album. It seems Cyrus has put her “old blue jeans” back on to release her latest album, Younger Now.
The album seems to be the very opposite of the singer’s infamous “Wrecking Ball” stage, as it is a “twerk”-free zone. The blend of country and pop reflects upon both Cyrus’s Tennessee upbringing and popstar past. The country-tinged album links her to Dolly Parton, which is evident in their collaborative track, “Rainbowland.”
The song begins with Parton telling Cyrus that she is “in Nashville” and playing the track “on a cassette,” exposing an old-fashioned theme. “Rainbowland” is the only joint song on the entire album, which differentiates Cyrus as more independent, for on her2013 album “Bangerz”, she collaborated with six other artists, the majority of them rappers.
Younger Now seems to lull the listener into a peaceful utopia, as Cyrus shares details about her on-and-off romance with her fiancé, actor Liam Hemsworth; these details are most evident as Cyrus basks in the sunshine of “Malibu.” “Week Without You” is a break-up ballad imagining what it would be like to leave her lover behind.
Cyrus offers soothing and sentimental love songs with “Miss You So Much” and “I Would Die For You.” Her album exposes her worries about the state of the world, as she sings of her desire to live in a “Rainbowland,” where “skies are blue and things are grand/oh, wouldn’t it be nice to live in paradise.” She closes the album with a ballad dedicated to her concerns for the planet titled “Inspired,” as she tries to inspire listeners by telling them though they have “felt so small/[they] aren’t at all.”
Though the album appears highly retro and country inspired, it does not completely neglect her Bangerz past. “Thinkin’” incorp0rates both pop and R&B, and “Bad Mood” offers what some may consider scandalous and seductive lyrics. Although the track “She’s Not Him” is one of her slower and more romantic tracks, it shows similarities to fellow singer Katy Perry’s controversial 2008 hit, “I Kissed a Girl.”
One might say Cyrus’s twerking days are over and her lyrics encompass her transformation. In her “Younger Now” music video, she sings “No one stays the same” as a dancer twirls pointedly on a pole. Most seem to be happy to see Cyrus going from “girl-gone-wild” to “girl-gone-mild.” Not everyone is enamored of her latest reinvention, however.
For example, Amanda Petrsich of The New Yorker sees this change in Cyrus as a misleading example of how young women mature. She states, “she was a fairly innocent kid who enjoyed a wild period in her early twenties, and, now that she’s about to become someone’s wife, she’s settling down, finding a new way to be (or act) virtuous.” Petrsich argues that Cyrus’s “change” creates a “narrow path forward” for maturing young women.
Although the path Cyrus went down may be misleading to some, she retains the edge she has spent the past five years cultivating, while moving into country-pop maturity. Younger Now is available on iTunes and streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.