Tuesday, July 8, 2014

NBC's 'Miley Cyrus: Bangerz Tour' Special


★★★☆☆

Last Sunday, NBC suffered quite a ratings flop. Filling their 9 - 11 p.m. time slot was Miley Cyrus, strutting her stuff for a special broadcast of her Bangerz Tour, but only two million people tuned in for the show. I was one of them, and I actually wasn't entirely disappointed. In the show, Miley thrives on the same sort of strange antics as she has since last summer's debut of "We Can't Stop," but for the majority of Americans, has Bangerz lost its bang?

At the first sight of the stage, it's pretty low-key for Miley Cyrus. I was actually really surprised at the fact that the show relied primarily on some cheap cartoons ran on a monstrous screen behind the stage. Once in a while, some inflatables or a fake car or two would roll out for a few songs, but I just expected so much more. I did enjoy her entrance though, on a red tongue slide that popped out a giant projected version of her head, before she began singing "SMS (Bangerz)."

From motor-boating the breasts of a giant stripper to riding a giant hot dog named "Mr. Wiener" surrounded by giant ketchup and mustard bottles, Miley will stop at nothing to keep her crowds screaming for more. All of these shenanigans don't really have a purpose, but just act as something fun to keep the show moving and without much of a focus. It seems that the show is just to act as a giant, random party for Miley and her fans, which I don't really have a problem with.

A small chunk of the show revolves around Miley's dead husky dog, Floyd. While singing "Can't Be Tamed," an inflatable version of Floyd that is nearly big enough to reach the rafters of the arena takes center stage, and Miley manages to dry hump its leg. After a commercial break jump, Miley takes the stage in a beautiful black full-body suit holding a stuffed dog to sing "Adore You" in memoriam of Floyd. The song would have actually have been a nice tribute to her past dog if she didn't turn on the giant kiss cam to her audience, encouraging couples to tongue each other in ways that don't even look passionate.

In between some of the concert's selections, some snippets of an interview with Miley were used to create some dramatic transitions, but I really don't feel like they were necessary. The concert could have stood alone as a solid program without interruption. The interview snippets sometimes don't even have anything to do with whatever is happening in the concert. At some point, Miley spiraled into some sort of story about how she and her friends had their own version of 'The Plastics' from Mean Girls in the sixth grade. Why did it really matter? I'm still not sure.

With this concert special, Miley can at least prove one thing: she's got the voice to back up her career. Coming from a Walt Disney background, people don't give her as much credit as they should when it comes to her vocals. On some of the high-energy songs like "SMS (Bangerz)" and "Do My Thang," she slides a bit vocally, but when she is actually focused on singing, such as during "Adore You," "Drive," and her country version of OutKast's "Hey Ya," she sounds solid. Personally, I feel like the live versions are even better than the studio versions because of how much emotion she can transmit in her live vocals.

People say Miley's reign is over thanks to her radical change in personality and image. After last summer, suddenly people that used to love her have now turned their backs on her, claiming she has no talent and she'll never re-coup her popularity. Perhaps if they would have tuned into the special, they would have learned that she still does have the vocal capabilities that singers like Britney Spears and Katy Perry don't. Sure, this NBC special wasn't the greatest, but it was far from the worst. Personally, I pitched my tent in Miley's camp once she hit this new Bangerz era, and I'll keep it there as long as she keeps following the beat of her own drum.

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Maira Gall