Ever since her performance of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” (1978) at the 2020 iHeartRadio Festival, fans of Miley Cyrus have been in awe of her pop-rock talent. The love only continued when Cyrus released her album “Plastic Hearts” (2020) two months later. A big shift from her Hannah Montana era and pop albums like “Younger Now” (2017) and “Bangerz” (2013), Cyrus tapped into a rock-and-roll side of herself with “Plastic Hearts,” which was ranked No. 23 on Rolling Stone’s “Best Albums of 2020.”
After the album, Cyrus went on to headline festivals across North and South America, including Lollapalooza in Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Chicago. Before her festival concerts, Cyrus would frequently take to social media to ask fans what songs they would like to hear her perform, which led to her covering a variety of songs, including some of her older songs that she has not performed in years. With a diverse set list that fans loved, Cyrus’ concerts became widely popular and ultimately led to her new album, “ATTENTION: MILEY LIVE” (2022).
“ATTENTION: MILEY LIVE” is Cyrus’ first live album and captures her wide range of vocal talent. The 20-track album includes some of her oldest songs, newest songs, unreleased songs, covers and mashups. Every song feels unique, both the covers and her originals, and Cyrus brings something new to each track. The album feels similar to the pop-rock aesthetic of “Plastic Hearts,” resulting in a highly energetic, fiery live album.
From “Plastic Hearts,” Cyrus includes “High,” “Plastic Hearts” and “Never Be Me,” as well as “Edge of Midnight” and “Heart of Glass.” Out of her new songs, “Edge of Midnight” stands out as the strongest live performance. The remix, which is a mashup of Cyrus’ “Midnight Sky” and Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” (1982), is the perfect blend of new music and old. Cyrus embodies the rock aspect of both songs with raspy yet powerful vocals and an aggressive band to create a track that is just as good, if not better, than the original.
Similar to “Edge of Midnight,” in which Cyrus draws from other artists, “ATTENTION: MILEY LIVE” includes three different mashups. “We Can’t Stop” is included in a mashup with the 1988 Pixies song “Where Is My Mind?,” “See You Again” is mixed with Cher’s 1966 “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down,” and finally, “Wrecking Ball” merges with Sinéad O’Connor’s 1990 “Nothing Compares 2 U.” While Cyrus’ creativity with these mashups is admirable, the album might have proved to be stronger, and more appealing, if she did individual tracks for the songs instead of mashups, allowing listeners to enjoy the songs in their entirety. Due to the mashups, there are no full-length, live versions of “Wrecking Ball,” “See You Again” or “We Can’t Stop,” which is disappointing, as those are some of Cyrus’ most popular songs.
The mashups are not the only instances in the album when Cyrus covers other artists. Covers of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” (1973) and Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” (1989) are both featured on the album. These two songs are interesting choices for Cyrus’ very rock-heavy album, as “Jolene” is country and “Like A Prayer” is classic ‘80s pop. What makes these covers work on the album is that Cyrus brings her rock passion to “Jolene” and “Like A Prayer.” With strong bass and a twangy electric guitar, “Jolene” blends the genres of rock and country with ease, resulting in a memorable, lively track. “Like A Prayer” is reminiscent of the original through the backing vocals, but Cyrus takes the song to a new level, infusing it with her rockstar energy.
Cyrus not only feeds into the nostalgia some have for ‘70s and ‘80s music, but the nostalgia people feel for the ‘old Miley.’ Tracks like “7 Things” and “Party In The U.S.A” allow the audience to visit Cyrus’ old music with a much older, adult Miley Cyrus. The beauty behind hearing Cyrus sing her old songs live is it shows how Cyrus has grown, both vocally and as a person, right alongside her audience and fans. Out of all the recordings on the album, “The Climb,” is the one that truly captures this ‘new Miley.’ Cyrus sings “The Climb” with the same passion she had at 16, but one can tell that there is much more maturity and understanding in her voice. Throughout her career, Cyrus has faced many obstacles and controversies, from people attacking her for her “Wrecking Ball” (2013) music video to her divorce. However, Cyrus has, in true “The Climb” fashion, kept her head held high and kept the faith.
“ATTENTION: MILEY LIVE” proves that Cyrus has found her sound. A long way from her Disney Channel days and pop era, Cyrus has become a true rockstar. The album succeeds in showing all of Cyrus’ abilities as an artist, with covers and mashups to new recordings of her old songs. Cyrus’ passion is apparent in every song and “ATTENTION: MILEY LIVE” is the perfect album to summarize her career so far. Given Cyrus’ history of switching genres and sounds, it is uncertain if she will stick with rock for long, but one can only hope this is not her last rock album.