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But Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime.

Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz: The Struggle of Standing with Miley

But Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime.

By Lindsey Enslen, George Mason University


When Miley first released her new album Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz, I was confused.

Why was it free? Why did Wayne Coyne agree to this? Why another ‘z’? And most importantly—where can I listen to it immediately? I have answers to none of those questions, but I can give you some information that might lead in a helpful direction.

Miley Cyrus’ album, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz presents us with yet another reinvented Miley Cyrus (overuse of Miley Cyrus intended). The unexpected, 23-song work is heavily experimental, like nothing she’s ever made before—something most closely resembling an alien strand of psych pop. It also showcases every possible sound Miley can make with her body, from chanting to crying to talking to rapping.

Since she entered our lives, we have watched Miley grow up before our eyes, transforming from a bubbly tween to a twerking performance artist. But Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz is not only her most recent transformation, in many ways it might be her most exciting.miley (1)

When Bangerz arrived, it debuted a Miley that was announcing her emancipation, a Miley freeing herself from expectations and brand loyalty. We were given our first honest album from the former Hannah Montana, one that chronicled a love story—a love story about herself. In it, Miley cut her hair, dyed it blonde and shocked her way into a weird part of our hearts.

Now Miley’s back and she’s done freeing herself, instead, Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz is the first album where she enjoys her freedom. Enter 2015 Miley: The Happy Hippie.

This Miley back talks Nicki Minaj on live TV (girl??!!?), dresses like a moving arts and crafts project, refuses to conform to societal norms of personal hygiene and posts an endless stream of insane Instagram psychobabble. Like the album, Miley’s growing pains are testing my devotion to her.

As a die-hard supporter, I berated Nicki (mentally) when she called out Miley.

When “fashionistas” ridiculed her outfits, I stood up for my girl. And most impressively, I still follow her on Instagram.

Miley, no matter how many annoying pictures of repulsive fan art you post, I promise I will not hit that unfollow button. But, I did always cling to the hope that things might change: that the posts would stop, that she would drop some new Bangerz-esque music, that she would shower. Mostly, I stuck with her because I’ve put too much energy into my fandom to jump ship now. I chose to be a Miley Cyrus fan, and I’m choosing to live with those consequences, one of which is listening to a 23-song album twice to find what seems to be a very elusive appreciation for roughly a third of its tracks.

Similar to the die-hard Brittany Spears fans that stood by the Queen of Pop’s side through her ’07 train wreck, I’m determined to remain loyal to Miley. As a Smiler, I took a vow to defend Miley from the haters, and this album will be the greatest test of my commitment yet. Plus, no matter how you feel about Miley or the album, you have to at least credit her generosity. She worked tirelessly to create an entirely brand new sound for this album, and then she gave it away completely for free. It might be a bad gift, but a gift’s a gift’s a gift.

The psychedelic sound of that gift is definitely a departure from what you were expecting, but like me, you might still find a handful of songs you really like; if you don’t, you can still appreciate Miley for staying true to her (new) lifelong mantra of You Do You-ism.

And if you’re lucky enough to live near Chicago, Detroit, Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia or Boston, check her out on tour. But, don’t worry—I already have my ticket, so you don’t have to go. If you don’t live in one of America’s greatest metropolises, then you’re going to have to settle for my critique and whatever bootlegged version of the album you can find (surprisingly hard to find for a free album).

As a whole, the album is clearly an experiment. And for something that marks such a drastic departure from her previous sound, it’s no wonder her record label let her independently release it. If nothing else, the album needed much more promotion than it got. Listeners, especially fans, all suffered a massive aural shock at first play.

Good, bad, whatever, an album that changes course so dramatically from its predecessor needs to give a little advanced warning.

But, after my ears acclimatized to the new musical stratospheres Miley has reached, I found several bangerz that Smilers and novices alike could learn to love.

“Twinkle Song” brings us a soft ballad, climaxing with Miley poignantly shouting, “What does it mean?” The song highlights dulcet vocals that allow Miley’s smoker’s rasp to *coughing spasm cough spasm coughing spasm* to sneak through. If the serene piano paired with Miley’s delicate voice isn’t enough to get you in your feelings, the crooning lyrics just might: “I miss you so bad / I think I might die,” she sings, sadly. Word on the grape vine is that Miley wrote this song with the help of a dying cat telling her what to say through her dreams.

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As in Bangerz, Miley once again teamed up with Big Sean for a song. Unfortunately, “Tangerine” could not be more different than their previous collaboration. In it, Big Sean comes in at the halfway mark with several bars that fail to smoothly transition from Miley’s slow and tranquil lyrics about spaceships and shooting beams. I hate to say it, but “Tangerine” could use a little less Miley, and a little more Big Sean.

“Pablow the Blowfish,” the title a linguistic banger in itself, is one of the most heartbreaking songs in the world. That’s right, step aside, “Tears in Heaven,” “Mad World” and “Nothing Compares 2 U,” if you’re looking for a good cry, listen no further than “Pablow.” It’s a beautiful tribute to Miley’s pet blowfish that passed away (like many other animals under her care). She sings of regret, disgust over her friends eating sushi and the possibility of Pablow the Blowfish making babies with Sadie the Seahorse. She cries at the end.

And if you like a more old school, ‘80s sound, then check out “Lighter,” where Miley drops some depressing knowledge on us. “We never get to see ourselves / Sleeping peacefully next to the ones that we love.” Sigh, ain’t that the truth?

Hidden throughout this hot mess of an album, there are several songs that had the potential to be released by a label and turn a profit. “I Get So Scared,” “Lighter,” “Fweaky,” “I Forgive Yiew” and “Dooo It!” all wax less experimental and are definitely worth your time. If you’re going to give this album a try, listen to those first. If you’re not going to listen to the album, I don’t know why you read this entire review to the end.

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