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Miley Cyrus - 'Can't Be Tamed'

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Fraser McAlpine | 11:03 UK time, Saturday, 5 June 2010

Miley Cyrus

There's a curious rite of passage that all youthful female pop stars seem to have to undergo these days, a change they have to endure in order to make sure they get to keep being pop stars for a bit longer, and maybe even gain cultural icon status, if they do it right.

No, I'm not talking about working with Timbaland, this is The Ensexification Moment.

The basic rules of The Ensexification Moment are this: you take a singer with a strong teen fanbase, who has always made very wholesome entertainment until that point, and you apply an ensexificating filter. This loosens a certain amount of clothing, encourages heavy breathing, and changes the basic, ah, thrust of the songs from being about love and trust to being about bedrooms and heat.

Or if the star in question has come from a very chaste branch of entertainment, about freedom and self-expression (with a strong undercurrent of bedrooms and heat).

(Here's the video. Worst. Cage. Evah!)

The modern role models for all of this are Britney (good girls gone bad) and Christina (bad girls gone worse), although Kylie was the first, becoming so ensexificated in the process that some strands of the music press had to refer to her different personas by different names - popKylie, sexKylie, indieKylie etc.

This is, therefore, sexMiley's moment. Ironically, it's also a song about how she can't be changed or moulded into being something she is not. A song which is aways away from her usual sunny musical outlook, and closer to, well, what all the grownups are doing.

It's got that pounding dark beat, y'now, the one Britney was fond of...and Marilyn Manson, thinking about it. Miley's buried under a heap of thick production clingfilm, but attempting to sing her way out in typically spirited fashion.

I find myself loving the way she sings "I wanna be a part of something I don't know", partly cos it's a great line, and partly cos she doesn't seem to give enough of a stuff to even finish the point about the thing she's yearning for. That's some classy pop action, right there.

And really, classy is the key word. If Miley's gonna weather the Ensexification Moment it'll be because she's doing it during a period of extrema GaGa, when videos are less about acreage of flesh and more about feathers and Victorian scientists.

Oh, and because she's got the songs and the voice, that always helps.

Four starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Newsround says: "The change of style might take some time to get used to but most fans should enjoy the new music."

Jimmy Elliott Official says: "Stop trying to be Gaga, you're terrible at it."

I'm Not Obsessed says: "Reminds me of a young Britney Spears.


  • Comment number 1.

    Fantastic review , a really good read .

  • Comment number 2.


    However, this is a five star song for me, first one in a while so it's not like I'm freely handing out my stars is it?

    I'm loving the beat: the dark, pounding beat that never really stops, it's like your being punched in the face repeatedly. It's brilliant!
    The verses are well-structured, the bridge add more drama to the song, and then it all dies away and you're left with Miley singing "I can't be tamed!". I'm thinking there's some reason for clearing out all unnecessary sounds so we just hear that message.

    The breakdown/middle 8 is of course the unquestioned high-light of the song "I'm not a trick that you play/I'm wired a different way/I'm not mistake, I'm not a fake/It's set in my DNA." The way she sings it shows she really means business, she come a far way from the Disney Channel princess now, just LOOK at the single and album cover - SHOCKED.

    But I can't help feel there is some kind of melancholy behind the song: behind the stomping beat; behind the make-up, wings, and leather; behind the screamy chorus, there's someone desperately pleading - "Don't change me, please don't change me". Then we're back to the chorus again. YAY!

    But all in all, Fraser is right, Miley going through that stage where she's trying to shift her 'good Daddy's girl' status that hounded the likes of Britney and Rihanna before 'Toxic' and 'Stup Up And Drive' respectively, and now Miley can be added to that list because "if you try to hold me back I might explode", is no idle threat.

  • Comment number 3.

    Miley's certainly a heck of a lot better off without the irritating disney teeny pop image she has before this.

    Although this is a cracking song, I can't help noticing a similarity to a certain insane mega-star, and I'm betting a lot of the public will notice it also.

    4 stars

  • Comment number 4.

    An amazing song and, despite the fact that I've surpassed her fanbase by many, many years the theme to the lyrics is something I strongly relate to.

    Oh, dear.

  • Comment number 5.

    i think it's rubbish, it's repetitive and she's acting like a weirdo in the video, in a suitable fashion for lady gaga's wardrobe only, why must everyone copy gaga?!

  • Comment number 6.

    First I heard it was through an invitation via MiCy's MySpace. The ttle alone made me cautious, but I gave it a whirl. Just as I feared:exsexificating bilge. Sounds like something Britney Spears or her handlers would rightly have thought better about putting on as an album track or b-side. And though Fraser's nigh always worth a read, the presumption of a need for a young gal singer's need for such an ensexificating moment's a bit depressing. If MiCy is ever going to go on about her "doing it all for Jesus" thang again, I am not buying it. The way she balanced her Chirstian confession and the rigors of a secular pop career were part of her appeal for me. Even if the lyrics oif this disaster were more in keeping with biblical propriety, the tired music would keep me from enjoying it, alas.

  • Comment number 7.

    I was never really crazy about Ms. Cyrus before. But this song gives me haunting sensual vibes that I have not felt since Britney Spears' "Gimme More". By far a standout track in the Cyrus catalogue. The song is so dark and haunting, I feel almost like I'm witnessing the sinful metamorphosis of a popstar. Well worth the listen, and well worth the shift in her career. Cannot wait to see what else her new "adult" career provides.


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