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On the second studio album she's released under her own name (as opposed to that of Hannah Montana, her Disney Channel alter ego) 15-year-old Miley Cyrus offers up a rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" that says more about Cyrus' real-world existence as an overworked young media star than she (or her handlers) probably intended.
On its surface, the song describes the simple desire to let loose with one's friends; in the first verse, the singer "come[s] home in the morning light," presumably after a long night spent pillow-fighting, hair-braiding or popcorn-microwaving.
Growing up fast
Yet in the version here -- an oddly ominous bubble-grunge production by Matthew Wilder, who also helmed No Doubt's "Tragic Kingdom" -- Cyrus doesn't sound like she's ever taken part in any of those activities; there's exhaustion in her voice, not exhilaration. In the next verse, her "phone rings in the middle of the night" -- it's Daddy, demanding to know what she's gonna do with her life -- and she's as unimpressed as a 911 dispatcher.
Cyrus finally shows a flicker of experience in the chorus: "When the working day is done / Oh, girls, they wanna have fun." The ragged intensity of her delivery makes it clear that this song isn't about having a good time -- it's about not having a good time.
That's Cyrus' theme throughout "Breakout," which sports a slightly tougher, more guitar-based sound than last year's "Meet Miley Cyrus."
"It feels so good to let go," she sings in the title track, "Wish it would never end." In "Simple Song" she "can't tell which way is up, which way is down / It's all up in my face, need to push it away." "Goodbye" finds her remembering the "simple things . . . until I cry."
Leave her alone
In the CD's best cut, "Fly on the Wall" -- a stomping electro-metal jam produced by Disney-pop regulars Antonina Armato and Tim James -- Cyrus mocks a prying boyfriend (or a prying public) desperate to know all of her "precious secrets." It's unlikely you've ever heard a 15-year-old this concerned with her privacy before.
The result is a true-blue bummer by Mouse House standards. Even the love songs -- such as "The Driveway," which could be late-era Blink-182, and "Bottom of the Ocean," a ballad Cyrus sings like a budding Bonnie Raitt -- are feel-bad downers about how "nothing hurts like losing when you know it's really gone."
In that respect, "Breakout" is unlikely fodder for the razzle-dazzle road shows and 3-D concert films to come. As a portrait of the artist as a young malcontent, though, it's rarely less than fascinating.
Re: Miley Cyrus' 'Breakout': A long way from Montana
Tabloids and gossip blogs and Annie Leibovitz, oh my! It's a big, bad 21st-century mediascape out there, but Miley Cyrus seems poised to dominate it, Vanity Fair photo shoots and all. And while the title of her new album, "Breakout," might make parents a touch nervous, it's fans of Cyrus's high-fructose hooks who have the most to worry about. Completely shedding her Disney-branded "Hannah Montana" persona, the 15-year-old megastar sidesteps one pitfall (growing up too fast) only to trip into another (these songs aren't much fun).
"Breakout" peaks early with its title track, a power-pop bauble that sticks to the kid stuff: "Every week's the same/Stuck in school, so lame . . . Tired of being told what to do /So unfair, so uncool." Such sentiments might sound disingenuous from a girl who spends her days raking in gazillions of dollars as her very own franchise, but it still makes for fine mouse-pop. And whether you're a young Miley devotee or a 20-something music journalist looking for a new sugar rush (ahem), it's the best our girl has to offer.
The rest of the album reneges on its title, failing to dart off in any one direction. Politely distorted guitars, jelly-sweet synthesizers and humdrum acoustic strums materialize everywhere, and are quickly, gratuitously multi-tracked into a sonic mush that does little to highlight Cyrus's twangy, tangy voice. Instead of cranking it up to 11, this is a brand of pop music that turns it down to one, then adds 10 more of them.
This overproduction is apparent on the chorus of the album's first single, "7 Things," an avalanche of guitars and rushed syllables. Cyrus sprints through it, rattling off the things she hates about some unlucky boy, but has a change of heart in time for the finale, tweaking the refrain into, "Seven things I like about you." Awww. Too bad the video, currently streaming on her MySpace page, is such a surreal bummer: Cyrus, both sassy and cherubic, is joined by a cast of tweenagers bawling their eyes out, presumably bereft over their unrequited crushes. Yeesh.
Cyrus tries to cheer things up with an overcooked cover of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," an Ibiza-for-tots dance remix of "See You Again" and "Fly on the Wall" -- a song that evokes the *****cat Dolls doing the "Monster Mash." All of these fail to match the saccharine thrills that the singer -- and her alter ego, Hannah Montana -- mustered with previous efforts.
Perhaps Cyrus should have titled the album "Vague Glimpses Into My Future as a Country Superstar." CMT-friendly album cuts, including "Goodbye" and "These Four Walls," hint at life after Disney and evoke images of Hannah putting Nashville in a formidable headlock someday very soon. Sure, country stardom might not eclipse life as a multi-platform entertainment juggernaut, but it's gotta beat seeing your face on Perez Hilton's Web site every day.
Re: Miley Cyrus' 'Breakout': A long way from Montana
You know, we should actually get some 'tween-agers' or some young girls to actually review this album. I mean, isn't it geared for them?
Who are these folks that are reviewing these albums? 60 year old columnists that have their 'last stop' on the job in the album review section of the paper?
It's like asking Bob Costas to review a Death Metal album...it just won't make sense to those who the product is intended to please.
Anyone out there have a 'tween' or a child that would like to review the album and then post here? I'm going to have my daughter listen to the album and give her feedback. We'll see if the marks are a little higher than what it is being given by these papers.