Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Miley Cyrus is fearless in the eyes of the music industry. She has never shied away from creating the music she has wanted to, nor has she let any company hold her back. Now, in the wake of the release of Plastic Hearts, fans are shown, yet again, another side of Miley.
Cyrus has teased fans with her rock ‘n’ roll musical stylings for years. Starting with her 2014 cover of “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” by the Arctic Monkeys, she began to flaunt her impressive belting range. Since then, fans could infer that her rock career was imminent. She continued to tease us with “Twinkle Song,” off of one of her less popular albums, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. Little did anyone know that it would take another five years for Miley’s formal entrance to the rock ‘n’ roll world. Was it worth the wait?
Even though Miley Cyrus has been riding the punk rock and alt-rock wave recently, with covers of The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” and Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” the artist dubs Plastic Hearts genre-less. Miley speaks about the album as “a mosaic of all the things [she's] done before.” Boy, did she deliver on that statement. Miley Cyrus’s album somewhat falls into line with the reigning music trend of 2020: the 80’s. While disco synths, bass, and rock’n’roll guitar solos are the front runners of this album, Plastic Hearts is genre-less. Songs like “WTF Do I Know,” “Night Crawling,” “Gimme What I Want,” and “Bad Karma,” make up the rock era of the album packed with features from Joan Jett and Billy Idol to round out the rock’n’roll themes. “Prisoner” and “Midnight Sky” are more representative of the disco era with a matching feature from the 2020 disco revivalist, Dua Lipa. Other tracks on the album like “High” and “Angels Like You” are more in line with her country roots.
“Hate Me” is unlike the other tracks in the album; it sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s down-tempo guitar melody paints the picture of a coming of age movie, where Miley Cyrus is the star. If you close your eyes, you can see Miley Cyrus standing on a bridge in the rain singing, “I wonder what would happen if I die.” Different from her disco and rock-inspired tracks, “Hate Me” is much more reminiscent of a 2000s pop rock anthem.
There’s something for every Miley Cyrus fan in this album. Whether you’re here from her Hannah Montana days or just joined along during her Younger Now release, you’ll find a song that makes you hit replay. Because of this album's overall versatility, we give this a 10/10 on the Intersect 1-10 rating scale.
Miley Cyrus adopts the drugs, sex, and rock’n’roll mantra of the 70’s in her lyricism, but another theme shines much brighter than her grunge lyrics. As the album revolves around Miley’s past relationships, she often refers back to heaven and hell to distinguish herself from her past significant others. Calling herself a “taker” rather than a “giver” in “Bad Karma,” Miley states that she’ll be on her way to hell when she dies while her exes rise up to heaven. Playing into the heaven and hell trope, Miley places her exes on pedestals as she seems to knock herself down throughout the album. She reveals throughout the album that she tends to leave relationships with no good reasoning. In “Never Be Me,” she promises that she’ll be far from the idyllic partner. She’ll never be faithful, nor will she be stable, instead she’s a risk. Even in “Golden G String,” she’s “put [her] hand in hellfire.” Her negative references to heaven and hell as her doomed fate in the afterlife come mostly with references to her partners. In a more tantalizing fashion, she joins Billy Idol in basking in the addictive party scene of the 80’s by singing, “Gotta listen when the Devil’s calling,” in “Night Crawling." Hell surrounds Miley Cyrus, or at least that’s what she believes. When she’s in love, it haunts her. When she’s alone, it enchants her.
Ironically, in “Hate Me,” a song dedicated to answering the question “What would happen if [Miley Cyrus] die[s],” she switches back to referencing drugs and alcohol and avoids any mention of the afterlife. Instead, she ponders her friends, family, and exes reactions to the news. Perhaps she makes the switch to normalize everyone’s natural fear of mortality and to face her own. Or, perhaps she wanted to further the pre-existing musical distinction of the song in this album. This sole instance of recognizing her mortality is gone as the album continues on. This album belongs in Heaven, no matter what Miley says, and for that we're rating this a 9/10 on the Intersect 1-10 rating scale.
THE FEATURES As the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, star of her own TV show on Disney, and goddaughter of Dolly Parton, it comes to no shock that Miley Cyrus has connections. Certain connections, like those featured in past albums, Big Sean, French Montana, Britney Spears, etc., make sense due to Miley’s position in the music world. That being said, her features in her Plastic Hearts have some scratching their heads. When her tracklist was released, two weeks before the album’s release, Plastic Hearts boasted two shocking, yet iconic, names: Billy Idol and Joan Jett. It may seem as a flex to feature these two icons. In fact, most of the album’s criticism spotlights these features, calling them out as unnecessary especially because the featured artists weren’t given a true moment to shine in their tracks. It’s true. Miley gave both Jett and Idol each one verse in their featured tracks, then continued to overpower them in the following chorus. On the surface, it isn’t a good look for Miley.
Of course, it was never Miley’s intention to overshadow two music legends, nor should fans see it that way. The tracks are almost ceremonial. These two icons are passing on their talents and platform to Miley. Think about Drake’s “I’m Upset” music video which featured the entire Degrassi cast. The music video wasn’t even remotely related to the track. Drake used the music video to recognize his past as his influence for the artist he is today. Miley does the same thing with “Bad Karma” and “Night Crawling.” With a nod to Jett and Idol, she shares the track as a recognition of her progress as a musician and her influences, not as a flex.
Though Dua Lipa is also featured in the album, it didn’t come off as shocking as these 80’s legends. That being said, the Jett and Idol features were shocking but consistent with her recent image and “Edge of Midnight” release with Stevie Nicks. Dua Lipa’s feature, with so many nods to the rock ‘n’ roll and disco eras, feels out of place. However, the pop duo of Miley and Dua Lipa seems to have taken the world by storm. We definitely hope to see more collaborations in the future. We're obsessed with Miley wearing her influences on her sleeve, but are still a little confused with the Dua Lipa feature, forcing us to rate her features an 8/10 on the Intersect 1-10 rating scale.
THE ART BEHIND THE ALBUM
Miley Cyrus’ self-proclaimed mosaic of an album is so much more than the sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll fans anticipated. For an album that introduces Miley as an independent person, there are tireless references to her exes. Intertwined with her rebellious side, Miley is reflective in Plastic Hearts. She sheds a light on what it feels like to be the problem in a relationship. Even if it isn’t true, most people can relate to that sentiment. Her ongoing references to heaven and hell in the softer songs on the album appeal to the post-breakup guilt people feel. Miley’s release of “Can’t Be Tamed,” in 2010 still reigns true today for her. No matter how hard she tries, no matter the person, Miley can’t be tamed.
The album is a rollercoaster of emotions, starting with the addictive rock’n’roll intro, “WTF Do I Know,” which perfectly sets the scene for Miley’s emotional journey throughout the album. She continues on this high-tempo uphill of the roller coaster until something, or someone, brings her back to the ground with “Angels Like You.”
After a quick dip back to earth, she’s right back to disco dancing with Dua Lipa in “Prisoner,” a 2020 revival of two songs that soundtracks the 80’s. Inspired by Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical,” and Laura Branigan’s “Gloria,” Miley and Dua Lipa put a different spin on these empowering tracks. While Newton-John and Branigan have some high praise for female sexuality, “Prisoner” tells a different, possibly more regressive story. It details a female trapped in an abusive relationship and manipulated to stay. Ironically, Miley, a modern musical sex symbol, chose not to add onto the pre-existing empowerment featured in “Physical,” which was originally meant for a male singer due to its sexual nature. The track further embraces the emotional journey she’s painting in the album. While we would have loved another female anthem, especially one with relation to these 80’s tunes, Miley has already given us a few to choose from.
It isn’t until “High” where she takes another pause to reference an ex again, a little less melancholic and reminiscent this time. The lyrics suggest that Miley misses the feeling of another person, but not the person themself. The melody remains uplifting throughout the song but comes to a peak in the final chorus as a faint, one-note piano line comes in to charge onwards in the album. That one-note brings us to “Hate Me,” which is oddly upbeat and off-topic compared to the rest of the album. Dancing with the idea of her own death, and the reactions on earth, she also nods at the media. The upbeat feeling references the switch in tone of the media’s portrayal of Miley, which has never been too kind. But, the album continues to feature one more truly rock’n’roll song, “Bad Karma (feat. Joan Jett,)” and closes out with two slower tracks. “Never Be Me” ties up the album in a pretty bow by acknowledging Miley’s imperfections, just like everyone else. Though she’s beat herself up a little in the earlier tracks, she’s coming to grips with the fact that she has to be the person she wants, not the person that others want in a relationship.
To close out the album, but before her recent rock covers, “Zombie,” and “Heart of Glass,” comes “Golden G String.” Perhaps a reference to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Miley points a finger at men in politics. As an entertainer and long-time participant in the music industry, Miley has put her body up for show many times. In reference to these clad moments, she sings “There are layers to this body / Primal sex and primal shame.” She embraces her attitude and actions in the past, present, and future. However, she condemns it for “the old boys” who “hold all the cards.” She states that it’s okay for people in her industry to be sex symbols, to flaunt their body, and to be offensive. Most art is offensive. But, our world leaders must refrain from those actions. An interesting ending to this mosaic of music, but appropriate nonetheless.
After a long, but not long enough, rollercoaster of emotions, Miley is left with a new, more clear sense of self through this self-discovery. Supported with fantastic music, fantastic lyrics, and fantastic features, Miley is on the self-love path. Fans can't help but love her and this project. We rate the art behind this album a 10/10 on the Intersect 1-10 rating scale.
MY TOP TRACKS ON THE ALBUM
WTF Do I Know, Night Crawling (feat. Billy Idol,) Hate Me
APPLE MUSIC'S TOP TRACKS ON THE ALBUM
Prisoner (feat. Dua Lipa,) Midnight Sky
Overall, Plastic Hearts receives a 9/10 on the Intersect 1-10 rating scale. Have you listened to the album? Let us know your thoughts below!