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Miley Cyrus might have the most varied and experimental discography among today's top artists.
Most recently, "Gimme What I Want" and "High" joined the ranks of her best-ever songs.
However, tracks like "Cattitude," "23," and "Dooo It!" are embarrassing entries in Cyrus' catalog.
"Gimme What I Want" is a fierce portrait of an empowered woman.
As I wrote for Insider's first-listen review of this album, "Gimme What I Want" threads glitchy and near-spooky effects into Cyrus' new punky persona.
With its rubbery bassline and fuzzy beat, it almost gives me "Leave My Body" by Florence + The Machine vibes.
Paired with some deliciously demanding and self-empowered lyrics ("Gimme what I want or I'll give it to myself" acts as the perfect thesis for "Plastic Hearts"), this song might be Cyrus' most convincing self-portrait yet.
Song highlight: The decadent, extended outro lets the guitar riff really shine.
If you like this, listen to: "Midnight Sky," "Prisoner"
"High" is a quiet masterpiece.
"If you only have time for one, make it this one," she wrote. "Sure, your understanding of the album's sonic landscape would be completely skewed, but it'd be worth it — this is the project's fragile heart, masked by all the thunderous 'I don't care' beats around it."
"It has inflections of 'Malibu,' shades of Cyrus' 'Hannah Montana' years, and shards of glass from the wreckage of her real-life heartbreak that deceptively glitter and sparkle as they pierce right into you."
Song highlight: "Sometimes I stay up all night / 'Cause you don't ever talk to me in my dreams."
If you like this, listen to: "Plastic Hearts," "Hate Me"
"Slide Away" is Cyrus' most dazzling song to date.
Naturally, Cyrus sounds amazing; her voice soars without sounding pushed, slithers without sounding small. The production is gorgeous and woozy, like sitting at the bottom of a swimming pool and gazing up at filtered sunshine.
Song highlight: "Move on, we're not 17 / I'm not who I used to be / You say that everything changed / You're right, we're grown now."
If you like this, listen to: "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart"
"Mother's Daughter" conveys a powerful feminist message, but cleverly avoids feeling trite or insincere.
Mother's Daughter" is as contradictory and confident as Cyrus herself.
The stylish production is sprinkled with screeches and frizzles, like a rebellious computer program. The twinkly refrain that flows through the song is a triumph. The lyrics are unabashedly bold and so satisfying to scream. The bridge is one of her best ever: a quiet moment of feminist reverence.
True, Cyrus can't help ruining things, just a little: the "swish, swish motherf---er" ad-lib at the song's close is very unnecessary. But everything that precedes is so good, she earned herself a small bump of cringe.
Song highlight: "Hallelujah, I'm a freak, I'm a freak, hallelujah" is such an iconic way to begin a song — especially for Cyrus, who's been accused of freakishness more than once or twice.
If you like this, listen to: "Bad Karma," "Unholy"
"Malibu" is a sun-dappled, clear-eyed moment of joy in Cyrus' discography.
"Malibu" is an outlier among Cyrus' best songs, a tier that typically favors darker textures, towering vocals, off-kilter production quirks, or her famous devil-may-care attitude.
But "Malibu" is just good. It's straightforward and sweet and never gets old.
"The only shock is that there's no shock," Jon Pareles noted for the New York Times after the song's release. "The new Miley Cyrus single, written by Ms. Cyrus herself, is as nice as can be."
Song highlight: The upbeat guitar riff and husky kick drum that swoop in mid-chorus. Simply divine.
If you like this, listen to: "Miss You So Much," "I Would Die for You"
"Something About Space Dude" is the crown jewel on "Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz."
"Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz" is too often maligned, largely thanks to "Dooo It!" — an aberration for an artist who's usually fantastic at selecting singles — and Cyrus' questionable style during this era.
In reality, "Dead Petz" is a mesmeric journey through the pop rebel's inner world.
Despite the album's numerous drug references, it's not her highs, but rather her lows that make "Dead Petz" interesting. Cyrus explores disappointment and insecurity in an unrefined, disarming way. "Something About Space Dude" epitomizes that very strength.
As Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield wrote in his review, "'Something About Space Dude' is the real killer here — an aching acoustic sex ballad about a Bowie boy who isn't even there, leaving her to sob, 'I want to be there skateboarding in a space dude's evil lair.'"
Song highlight: We all know that Cyrus loves to belt, but she uses her voice in such a different and fresh way on this song. She adopts an airy, eerie tone — enhanced by an echo effect — sounding like a cute-girl ghost with unfinished business on earth.
If you like this, listen to: "Adore You," "Space Bootz"
"BB Talk" is so weird - but in a fun way that only Cyrus could pull off.
No one else could make a song like "BB Talk" work. It's bizarre, shameless about how bizarre it is — and, in Cyrus' hands, deeply entertaining.
The other pop girls wish they could sing a lyric like "F--- me so you stop baby-talking" and actually pull it off.
Song highlight: The spoken-word verses should sound cheesy, but they don't. They just sound true. "Look, I like when you send me, you know, the queen emoji." Same!
Also, this line: "Like, why the f--- would I wanna lick your teeth? But I do."
If you like this, listen to: "Bang Me Box"
"Wrecking Ball" is just iconic.
Insider previously named "Wrecking Ball" the 43rd best song of the 2010s. It made Cyrus a legend, almost single-handedly. And she hadn't even turned 21 yet.
It speaks to the singer's power that an emotional breakup ballad could cause such frenzied devotion — especially in her post-Robin Thicke spotlight, amid all the ways she was mistrusted and mocked in the media. Ultimately, Cyrus' passion, artistry, and talent manage to shine through the noise.
Song highlight: The little feminine swoop in Cyrus' voice during the verses ("We clawed, we chained, our hearts in vain"), contrasted with her subtle growl as she tears into the chorus.
If you like this, listen to: "Angels Like You"
With "#GETITRIGHT," Pharrell Williams did what needed to be done.
"Bangerz" sounds best when it leans more pop than hip-hop, and "#GETITRIGHT" is a classic example. It's the most fun song on an album that's absolutely stuffed with fun songs.
As Jason Lipshutz noted in his Billboard review, Pharrell Williams deserves plenty of credit here.
"In 2012, way before his 'Blurred Lines'/'Get Lucky' resurgence, Pharrell Williams added two mid-track list standouts to a pair of high-profile pop albums, Usher's 'Looking 4 Myself' ('Twisted') and Adam Lambert's 'Trespassing' ('Kickin' In')," he wrote.
"The producer does the exact same thing on 'Bangerz' with 'Get It Right,' a stylish breeze defined by whistling — yes, whistling — and a chopped guitar lick. Cyrus sounds absolutely in love with the vibe here, as she should."
Song highlight: The outro doubles down on the song's delightful absurdity, acting as the cherry on top.
If you like this, listen to: "On My Own"
"FU," featuring French Montana, explodes like a post-breakup grenade.
From the moment you hear Cyrus scream-snarl on that opening line ("Ohhhh, you BROKE my heart"), you know you're in for a wild ride.
"FU" is frantic and absolutely euphoric in its rage; the song's "about" section on Genius calls it a "waltzy, electro-soul thrasher," which is just perfect.
This is one of the finest bitter-breakup anthems of our time. I highly recommend blasting "FU" in the car if you ever feel wronged by a man, and especially if you catch your fiancé texting flirty things to some girl.
Song highlight: "I don't really have much to say" she claims, in the midst of ripping this guy to actual shreds. Sure you don't, Miley!
If you like this, listen to: "Someone Else"
"Maybe You're Right" is devastating and cathartic.
"Maybe You're Right" is rivaled only by "Wrecking Ball" as the most stirring emotional moment on "Bangerz."
But the self-doubt expressed in "Maybe You're Right" is a unique, acute shade of anguish.
You could hardly accuse pixie-haired, tongue-wielding, 20-year-old Cyrus of being insecure or second-guessing her path, so the central lyric of this song truly feels like a sucker punch: "You might think I'm crazy / That I'm lost and foolish leaving you behind," she fumes before admitting, "Maybe you're right."
But the bridge seizes those same doubts, those same fears, and twists them until they become triumphant: "This chapter's done," Cyrus declares. "Moving on up and forward onto all that will become."
If she's going to be lost and foolish, at least she's going to own it.
Song highlight: "You can't blame me for who I am."
If you like this, listen to: "Drive"
"Can't Be Tamed" was always a bop, but in retrospect, it's downright prophetic.
"Can't Be Tamed" combines campy lyrics, an electro-pop Lady Gaga hook, and big "Piece of Me" energy — which is perfect for an artist who once said, "I only want one b---- on my record and that's Britney, b----."
This maximalist romp easily could've been a disaster, but 18-year-old Cyrus managed to sell it with her bratty theatrics and fallen-angel attitude. Little did we know, it would set the tone for her entire career.
Song highlight: "I'm not a mistake, I'm not a fake, it's set in my DNA." Ain't that the truth.
If you like this, listen to: "Who Owns My Heart"
"Party in the U.S.A." is truly timeless.
Sir Isaac Newton was only 23 when he discovered the law of gravity, but Miley Cyrus was only 16 when she invented patriotism.
There's a reason this song resurges on the charts every year, whether on July 4 or after the country receives good news. It's youth and moxie and celebration bottled; it's "dancing your troubles away" made literal. Most importantly, it's a perpetual staple on any party playlist.
Song highlight: Without Cyrus hopping off a plane at LAX with a dream and her cardigan, would Taylor Swift have ever written the Grammy-nominated hit song "Cardigan"? We can only speculate.
If you like this, listen to: "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
"The Climb" was the pinnacle of Hannah Montana's career.
Even though Cyrus is the credited performer for "The Climb," not Hannah Montana, it's still the most accessible, gratifying, and memorable product of the fictional pop star's legacy.
"The Climb" is certainly the best song on any Disney Channel soundtrack. With or without the blonde wig, it's a vocal and emotional tour de force.
Of course, nostalgia plays a factor here, but I feel certain that Cyrus could release this song today — or perform it on late-night TV, perhaps — and it would still slap.
Song highlight: She's correct. It really is about the climb.
If you like this, listen to: "You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home"
"7 Things" is still one of Cyrus' most effective breakup songs.
"7 Things" and "Forever & Always" are neck-and-neck for the title of best breakup song inspired by a Jonas Brother.
Indeed, "7 Things" upholds the glorious tradition of artists like Swift, Avril Lavigne, and Fiona Apple. There are few things more satisfying than scream-singing the feelings of an angry teenage girl.
The song works because Cyrus goes all in, delivering her petty grievances with bite and charisma.
Song highlight: "When you mean it, I'll believe it / If you text it, I'll delete it."
If you like this, listen to: "Two More Lonely People"
"East Northumberland High" is an underrated classic.
This might be seen as a left-field selection, but it's not. "East Northumberland High" is probably the best song on either side of "Hannah Montana 2 / Meet Miley Cyrus."
The lyrics are curiously, delightfully specific: "You're my type of guy, I guess," Cyrus shrugs, "if I was stuck in East Northumberland High for the rest of my life." Her apathetic mockery is simply devastating.
"Just because I liked you back then / It doesn't mean I like you now," she continues, her eye-roll nearly audible.
The bouncy drumbeat and elastic-sounding electric guitars underscore Cyrus' attitude perfectly. This song just works on every level.
Song highlight: "Northumberland" is an insane word to throw into the chorus of a pop song, but Cyrus makes it sound natural.
If you like this, listen to: "Good and Broken"
"See You Again" was an early display of Cyrus' enduring pop prowess.
Cyrus' updated rendition of "See You Again" proves that she managed to infuse even her earliest, most commercially driven projects with her punky taste and pouty personality. She's just being Miley, after all.
The song's smoldering beat and moody guitar riffs are impressively modern; Cyrus' vocals are subtle and mature. "See You Again" holds up to this day.
In fact, the acoustic, twangy version she performed in 2017 would've been the best song on "Younger Now."
Song highlight: The chorus' reference to "my best friend Lesley" probably refers to Cyrus' real-life pal Lesley Patterson, but I like to think it's a sneaky reference to "Hannah Montana" stud Jake Ryan — who reveals in a moment of teenage-boy vulnerability that his real name is Leslie.
If you like this, listen to: "Start All Over"
The RuPaul-featuring "Cattitude" is just horrendous.
Of the six songs on Cyrus' eclectic "She Is Coming," as Idolator's Mike Nied wrote, "Cattitude" is her "most glaring stumble."
But the song isn't just the worst of the small bunch — it's downright unlistenable. I previously named it one of the nine worst songs of 2019.
Worst offense: "I'ma keep working from dawn to dusk / So I can keep buying cars off Elon Musk" is capitalist nonsense.
Also, "I love you, Nicki, but I listen to Cardi" is unnecessarily messy.
Also, "I'ma have you run to your mommy" is just bad.
Saving grace: In the intro, RuPaul tells Cyrus, "go take your country-ass indoors." She should've listened and stopped the song right there.
"Rainbowland" is disrespectful to Dolly Parton.
There are few things I dislike more than slandering our coronavirus vaccine-funding country queen, but this song just wasn't worth her time. It's somehow both forgettable and exhausting.
Worst offense: Writing a song called "Rainbowland" is such a cute concept, but the potential of that image goes largely unexplored. The lyrics are shockingly dull and extremely repetitive.
Saving grace: Dolly Parton.
"Inspired" is boring and schmaltzy.
Ideally, an album's final track is a powerful statement of purpose or an emotional gut-punch. "Inspired" tries to be both and fails twice. It's too snoozy to be powerful and too mushy to be emotionally effective.
Worst offense: Cyrus has described this song as a "new, older version of 'The Climb'" — which, you know, how dare she?
Saving grace: We do need to save the bees and the trees, so she's not wrong.
"Dooo It!" might be Cyrus' worst song, period.
The world actually got a little worse when Cyrus released "Dooo It!" — and it got even worse worse when she decided to perform it at the 2015 VMAs and make it the face of "Dead Petz."
As a "Dead Petz" stan, I reject this song and everything it represents.
Worst offense: I can't even fathom how many people decided not to give "Dead Petz" a chance as soon as they heard "Yeah I smoke pot, yeah I love peace."
Saving grace: If you mute it and play a different song on top, the music video is cool.
"Milky Milky Milk" is excessive and meandering.
"Dead Petz" has 23 songs. Cyrus could've cut "Milky Milky Milk" and the album wouldn't have suffered one bit.
The song is almost five minutes long and features barely more than Cyrus' distorted voice spluttering "milky milky milk" over and over. It doesn't add any sonic intrigue that's unique from the rest of the tracklist, and its glitchy electronic effects are far more vexing than cool.
Worst offense: The first seven seconds are the worst, which makes you want to press skip as soon as the song starts.
Saving grace: "Your lips get me so wet / While I'm singing all the verses from the Tibetan Book of the Dead."
"I'm So Drunk" is hollow and unnecessary.
"I'm So Drunk" also should've been cut from "Dead Petz" because it brings nothing to the table — not because it's five minutes of nothing, but because it's only 46 seconds of nothing. The album didn't need a glorified interlude that's just the same meaningless lyric repeated five times.
Worst offense: That wasn't a joke. It's literally the same meaningless lyric repeated five times: "I'm so drunk, I can't even explain what I feel right now." If you can't explain it, don't bother including it!
Saving grace: It's only 46 seconds long, so it's over before you know it.
"23" is Cyrus at peak culture vulture.
Who asked Cyrus to make her debut as a rapper? What sane person wanted this?
You could argue that Cyrus' feature on "23" wasn't "wrong" because it's Mike WiLL Made-It's song, so he clearly enjoyed her contributions. That's probably true, in a technical sense. But her feature was certainly "wrong" in a more spiritual sense.
"The song sounds like everything else Mike WiLL's touched and turned to gold ('No Lie,' 'Bandz a Make Her Dance,' 'Pour It Up') so it will be a smash but, much to Miley's chagrin, it won't be because of her," Danielle Cheesman wrote for MSN. "All she did was smartly hitch her star to a tune that falls in line with a still-celebrated trend."
Worst offense: "I'm MC Hammer fly." No, Miley.
Saving grace: "If you are lame, that's a shame, you can't hang with us" is a great Instagram caption.
"SMS (Bangerz)," featuring Britney Spears, is chaotic evil.
As soon as this song starts, my nose scrunches up like I've smelled something gross.
"SMS (Bangerz)" is just Cyrus doing way too much for almost three minutes straight, except for the section that's dedicated to Spears sounding very confused as to how she got there.
Worst offense: Dragging Spears into this mess.
Saving grace: This album is admittedly full of "f---ing bangerz," so at least it wasn't an empty promise.
"4x4," featuring Nelly, tries to marry hip-hop and country with scant success.
In terms of production, "4x4" is sort of fun, like an outlaw crashing a hoedown. But it doesn't take long for it to get annoying.
I doubt anyone likes this song enough to listen to the entire thing. I can get through the first verse and chorus before my eyes begin to roll. "Round and round," indeed.
Worst offense: "Driving so fast, 'bout to piss on myself." Ick.
Saving grace: Alt-J sampled the best lyric in this song ("I'm a female rebel, can't you tell?") in "Hunger of the Pine."
"Love Money Party," featuring Big Sean, is another example of Cyrus trying and failing to rap.
"Money ain't nothing but money," Cyrus declares at the top of this track. Also, "Love ain't nothing but love," and then, "When you party every day, it ain't nothing but a party."
But wait, isn't "We want love, money, party" the thesis of this very song?
This contradiction sums up the haphazard energy of "Love Money Party." Beyond lyrics, Cyrus sounds cluttered and confused the entire time, like she isn't quite sure what to do with this production, or her own tongue, or Big Sean popping up for no reason.
Worst offense: Lyrics like "I don't give a damn if you sitting on a trill" just reek of minstrelsy.
Saving grace: In more capable hands, Mike WiLL Made-It's "grimy, haunted-house beat" could've been a real treat.
"Hands in the Air," featuring Ludacris, didn't deserve to have the final word on "Bangerz."
The deluxe version of "Bangerz" should've ended with "On My Own." What a peculiar decision to close such a multicolored, rousing, roller-coaster tracklist with the most phoned-in, lifeless club song ever.
Even Cyrus sounds bored by her own creation.
Worst offense: Why is Ludacris here?
Saving grace: It's kind of cute to hear a longtime star sound awed by her own life: "I remember dreaming 'bout the things I do right now / Like I climbed onto a cloud."
"Liberty Walk" is an instant skip.
You'd think an artist would want an album's opening track to be inviting, but instead, Cyrus decided to drive people away. "Liberty Walk" begins with an instant, high-pitched assault on your eardrums and never redeems itself.
Worst offense: "Well, alright / Yeah, yeah / We gonna get it / When we live it, live it." Who wrote this? I just wanna talk.
Saving grace: Lyrically, this song kind of serves as a prelude to "Can't Be Tamed." If only some of that song's greatness had rubbed off on this one.
"Permanent December" brings dishonor to a great month.
Cyrus does her best imitation of "Wake up in the morning, feeling like P Diddy" on "Permanent December," but only manages to sound like an unemployed Kesha impersonator.
Worst offense: The aggressive autotune in the pre-chorus. Also, the phrase "sexy boys."
Saving grace: The title makes me think of "Back to December" (2010) and "Remember December" (2009), which makes me giggle because Cyrus, Swift, and Demi Lovato all released songs about December within a 15-month time period.
"Forgiveness and Love" tries to be profound, but it's just corny.
"Forgiveness and Love" sounds like the mock-deep title of a Lonely Island song.
As a self-described "15-year-old deep emo country a-- sweetheart," Cyrus' songwriting was far more touching on songs like "Stay" and "Scars." But the forced sincerity of "Forgiveness and Love" falls flat.
Worst offense: The clunky phrase "forgiveness and love" is repeated nine whole times. That's just excessive.
Saving grace: "I accept you for everything you are and will be / Stay here with me now."
"Talk Is Cheap" is a juvenile attempt at making rock music.
"The Time of Our Lives" is extremely uneven for a collection of just seven songs, but "Talk Is Cheap" is definitely its lowest low. The song kicks off with some childish ad-libs and never ventures into more mature or interesting territory.
Worst offense: "Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-ay-aah-aah-ay woo-hoo woo-hoo."
Saving grace: If people search "Talk Is Cheap" on Spotify, they might choose to click on Chet Faker's song instead.
"Fly on the Wall" is just unpleasant to listen to.
I know this will be a controversial selection, but I could never get past the nails-on-a-chalkboard effect of "a creepy little, sneaky little," or the equally grating delivery of "fly on the wall." I hate the way it sounds, and I'm not sorry.
Worst offense: The entire chorus.
Saving grace: The double meaning that lets Cyrus slyly poke fun at the paparazzi.
"Wake Up America" is the worst song on "Breakout."
On principle, I reject the sexist implications of the New York Times calling this song "a ditzy cry for the environment" with a "cheerleader chorus." But, uh, that description is not wrong.
"Wake Up America" has a worthy goal, with Cyrus encouraging fans to give the earth "a little attention" — but it has the energy of some Disney executive snickering in a boardroom, writing a protest song in a way that he thinks tween girls will understand. The lyrics are dumbed down to an insulting level.
Worst offense: "Everything I read's global warming, going green / I don't know what all this means / But it seems to be saying / Wake up, America," which sounds like the script from a climate change PSA starring Derek Zoolander.
Saving grace: Much like this song's older sister "Inspired," the delivery is bad but the message is good.
Read the original article on Insider