The twerking, the foam finger, the nude music video, the breast-tacular Rolling Stone cover — all of it, a massive, mind-boggling, headline-making ... failure?
Consider Miley Cyrus’ own notion of success.
“I don’t want to be famous,” insists the 20-year-old former child star who so thoroughly buried memories of Hannah Montana at this year’s MTV VMAs that she may as well have been wielding a shovel, not a foam finger.
“I want to be like an entertainer. I want to be a name that everyone knows and respects. And I think being famous, you lose a little bit of that respect.”
Disingenuous? Naive? Sincere but guided by managers and handlers whose plans for pop cultural domination have outmaneuvered even social media queen bee Lady Gaga?
However you view Cyrus, there’s no question that, given the fragmented landscape, entertainers will happily sacrifice a lot of respect for a little attention. And if the first half of 2013 was all about the Biebs, the latter portion might be described as a mini-Miley marathon. Long-term, of course, there’s no guarantee Cyrus’ transformation will crystalize beyond the immediate, ever-present buzz. But the results thus far are indisputable.
Her latest single, Wrecking Ball, is her first No. 1 and the accompanying video has shattered records; Vevo reported it drew more than 19 million views on its first day online.
Her new album, Bangerz, drops Tuesday. Ahead of that — and part of a publicity blitz that has lasted months — she will act as both host and musical guest on this weekend’s Saturday Night Live. That puts her in the rarified company of Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars.
Yet sitting down with QMI Agency earlier this summer, the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus describes herself, for all the hype, as “very anti-social. I don’t really go out into the world — much — except to go to the studio ... I like talking about music. ... I want to do this and tell everyone about my record ... I want people to love my music, so it’s cool. But, otherwise, I’m not really out of my house that much just because I don’t like fake people. I don’t like paparazzi. And someone asked me earlier what it was like, like ‘Do I like being famous?’ And I don’t like that word ‘cause I don’t want fame.”
The cover of Miley Cyrusí Bangerz album
Still, there were signs, even last year, that Cyrus was ready to grow up — and dramatically so. Consider how she chopped her long brown hair and dyed it blonde. “We’re not all southern belles anymore that need to put our full face of powder and our wigs on,” she says.
“ ‘Cause I’m from Nashville so my grandma doesn’t leave the house without her wig or her spray tan. But it’s a new generation.”
Giving her style points along the way? Her godmother Dolly Parton. “My favourite thing she ever said was, I asked her, ‘Dolly, what colour is your natural hair?’ She’s like, ‘Honey, I don’t know. I haven’t seen it in 30 years!’ I’m like, ‘Me neither.’ Like I’m never planning on seeing my natural colour.”
Not that Parton, even at the height of her fame, had to contend with Facebook and Twitter. “Twitter is not going to go away ever,” says Cyrus, who has 14 million followers. “I don’t control anything except my Twitter personally. ‘Cause Facebook is a lot. I would stalk people all day ... It’s addictive ... I stay with Twitter so I stay on my fans and my close friends...”