SHE IS COMING – And We Can’t Wait
By Jamie Weiss
I can’t help but be a Miley Cyrus fan. Every Saturday morning as a kid I’d get up bright and early to watch Saturday Disney and Hannah Montana. It was unironically a huge part of my childhood. There are almost 100 episodes of the show and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all of them – you’ve probably seen a few yourself, and you can’t hand on heart tell me that she hasn’t released some big tunes over the years. Miley’s changed a lot since her Disney days, and doesn’t music media let us know it: every time she releases new music there’s someone whinging about the 2013 MTV VMAs or the Wrecking Ball video or something equally inane. Miley attracts half baked think pieces and criticism like few other pop artists in the industry. It’s unfair, because whilst she’s certainly courted controversy, she’s much more than just a provocative photoshoot. Headlines aside, Miley is a consistently innovative artist who’s been defying expectations for over a decade. The bottom line? She Is Coming exposes Miley's creative drive and it’s the best music she’s released for a long time.
She Is Coming is the first of three EPs which collectively will represent Cyrus’ seventh studio album, She Is Miley Cyrus. She Is Coming dropped on May 31, She Is Here will be here once American summer rolls around, and She Is Everything will complete the trilogy in our spring. I personally really like this approach to an album release. I’m a sucker for EPs as I often find them easier to digest than full-length albums. It’s also more substantive than drip-feeding singles well in advance. Straight away, Miley wins points for this alone.
The first track, “Mother’s Daughter”, sets the scene for the EP (as well as what we can expect from the next two, hopefully). Underscored by a snappy baseline and lush production, it’s a great way to start off the EP. This is followed by “Unholy”, an uncannily chiptune-sounding track that reinforces the core theme of the EP: Miley’s a bad bitch and she doesn’t care who knows it. A little edgy, for sure, and nothing we haven’t necessarily heard before from her. But it feels more sincere here, and has a little more weight to it.
“D.R.E.A.M. (Drugs Rule Everything Around Me)” is a somewhat obtuse reference to the Wu-Tang classic “C.R.E.A.M.”… Until you realise that Ghostface Killah Actually features on this track! It’s an appropriately dreamy pop number until the beat switch at the end, where Ghostface Bursts onto the track with some acidic bars. Ghostface's Feature leads immediately into RuPaul’s opening lines on the next track, “Cattitude”. As good as Ghostface’s bars are, RuPaul’s are arguably better (something that surprised me) – full of swagger, RuPaul accelerates the track into the stratosphere. “Cattitude” stands out as the most fun track on the EP.
She Is Coming demonstrates Miley’s knack for winning collaborations, and indeed collaborations really elevate this EP. Mark Ronson, Mike WiLL Made-It and Andrew Wyatt are exceptional producers, and the features on She Is Coming are equally canny choices. The penultimate track on the EP, “Party Up The Street”, epitomises this. It’s a chill, groovy duet with Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd fame, and my pick for best song on the album. The only low point on the EP is the final track, “The Most”: a slower poppy number mulling over her relationship with Aussie actor Liam Hemsworth that’s perfectly OK but doesn’t hit the same highs that the rest of the tracks on the EP do. Weak finish aside, they’re a great collection of tracks.
Cyrus’ 2013 album Bangerz was the start of her ‘new wave’, marking her departure from conventional pop and country Miley to highly produced, in-your-face, foam-finger humping Miley. Bangerz wasn’t a bad album but many people didn’t take it, or her huge persona change, seriously. Miley has always struggled to legitimise her changing public image as she’s matured as an artist. Bangerz perhaps didn’t land as well as it could have, and her next two albums, 2015’s Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz and 2017’s Younger Now, were experimental but unsuccessful. Swinging from pop to psychedelic rock back to country, her ‘new wave’ has felt a little directionless. There’s no denying her music and image was edgier, but it lacked a sense of cohesion. The same cannot be said about She Is Coming. It’s polished, self-assured, musically interesting as well as approachable, and reveals that Miley’s finally reconciled her changing musical tastes and image. The EP exudes confidence and charm, and is a far more enjoyable record than I expected going in. It bodes well for the rest of She Is Miley Cyrus – if the rest of the album is this good, Miley’s got a solid release on her hands.