Miley Cyrus is playing innocent.
Not exactly the word that might come to mind when describing MiCy, all things considered.
Need we revisit her now-infamous tongue-and-twerking MTV VMA performance in August? Or subsequent attention-seizing, semi-clothed displays?
(For those keeping track, there was naked Cyrus swinging on a wrecking ball in the video for her No. 1 song of the same name; her topless cover of Rolling Stone; and the see-through mesh dress she sported at a Vegas music festival around the same time she was disengaging from fiance actor Liam Hemsworth.)
But yes, sitting down with QMI Agency for an exclusive interview earlier this summer in a Manhattan hotel, the 20-year-old pop princess-turned-provocateur seems unaware of the buttons she is -- and will be -- pushing.
"People don't like anything that they can't wrap their brain around or they're fascinated by it and that's why they obsess over it," she says.
"And I think that's the big part about me. I think people are fascinated by the fact that I'm 20 ... 'cause I'm like a voice of a whole generation ... And not by the fact that I think I'm like any kind of role model. 'Cause I'm the one that's like, 'I don't want that title.' A role model should be real heroes that have done real things."
She continues, "What I try to teach my fans is to be confidently be who you are and be confident in yourself but to everyone else just be gracious.
"I think, again, actions speak louder than words. I think when you don't really know who you are, you have to be so vocal about like, 'I'm being different. I never do that. I'm making a transition.' Like that's one of the least favourite things that I like to say. 'Cause as much as to anyone else it seems like it's a conscious effort, it's not for me.
"It's just a natural thing that happens."
The cover of Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz album
And even before that MTV VMA performance -- which the likes of Cher and Elton John both criticized before coming around to support her -- there was evidence she was moving on from her Disney Channel-branded Hannah Montana image.
"It's such a weird thing," says Cyrus of her Montana baggage. "It's such a past for me where it almost feel like it didn't exist because things have changed so much. And I think the reason why I did (the transition) in the right way was 'cause I took two years.
"I kind of hid in my house. I wasn't performing. I wasn't trying to stay up on top. Because it's like I had nothing to say at that point. So I wanted to go away. Figure out who I am. Go mess up. Make mistakes. Do all that. Live. So I have something to write about. 'Cause that's the thing.
"So many people try to put on this like 'squeaky clean' (image) but they end up not being able to live their life so they have nothing to say and you're not interested anymore ... I want people to really know me so they know my music is who I really am."
And she's confident her Hannah Montana fans will accept her as she is now.
"It's funny when I see people they're like (tone of wonderment), 'You were a part of my childhood.' I'm like, 'That's hilarious.' On that set, I went through everything. I got boobs on that set.
"Where they came and they were like, 'I know (her godmother) Dolly (Parton's) on set this week. Did she give her a padded bra?' My mom's like, 'No. She's 15 now. You hired her at 12. You're going to have to wrap her up if you don't want her to have boobs.' ... And so, that time, it seems like a dream.
"But I think everyone has to do that. Everyone has to have their minute where they kind of like play the game a little bit so you can get to the point where I am at where you can just kind of do whatever you feel like and blame it on being an artist."
Musically -- yes, let's talk about the music for a moment -- Cyrus sought to diversify with the 13-track Bangerz, which drops Tuesday. It features such hip-hop artists as Nelly, French Montana, Future and Big Sean. As well, her producers and songwriters included such Atlanta talent as Mike Will, whose professional name is Mike WiLL Made It, and Future, along with Pharrell, and The Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am.
"I think people didn't realize as much how much Nashville and Atlanta are the same," says Cyrus who hails from the country music capital.
"And that's why me and Mike Will got along so well. It's cause, we're just real. We're from the south. It's the same exact thing. And the way that Atlanta is based around hip-hop music and it keeps that whole city alive, that's what Nashville is. Nashville would be dead without country music. That's the thing that gives it it's pulse and energy. And so Mike really understood that.
"And, actually, if you listen to country and you also listen to hip-hop ... every country artist is singing about women with badonkadonks" -- slang for curvy behinds -- "and drinking and partying, every country song, so that's the exact same thing as really hip-hop music ... So I just wanted people to feel that energy again and bring the south back."
Cyrus thrilled to have Britney’s help on ‘Bangerz’
NEW YORK -- Miley Cyrus grew up idolizing Britney Spears.
So you can imagine how thrilled she is to have Spears on her latest album, Bangerz, out Tuesday on the song SMS (Bangerz).
"I'm a '90s baby so Britney is everything," says Cyrus.
Still, she is quick to point out there is a difference between how Spears presented herself in her heyday and how Cyrus is marketing herself now.
"(The music video scene) isn't that anymore. The videos where it's like all the choreographed (dancing). That's what made her her -- the I'm a Slave 4 U video. Because no one was doing that at that time. But to me, that's THAT time, and so now you've got to go completely away from that.
"And I feel like the We Can't Stop video (the first single from Bangerz) was very much the same as what it did for her. (Slave) put her in a different category and that's what (Can't Stop) did for me."