Well, here's some good news: Miley Cyrus has a pretty wicked Shakira voice. Which she showed off to will.i.am when he came to help her prep for her Good Morning America performance without batting an eyelash. In fact, Cyrus doesn't have time for eyelash-batting, which is, as of this moment, her greatest appeal: The fact that she is diving headfirst into her "movement." She's quick-witted, rapid fire, and super, duper charismatic. But as for her movement, the self-ascribed reason she is performing in such a bombastic way — well, very little is clarified. Something about her "instincts" and being the "most me I have ever been," and also about going hard and bigger than anyone before. Oh, and self-expression. There was a bit about self-expression. But profound insight or a grand thesis did not Miley make.
The MTV-produced documentary, which premiered on the network Wednesday night, heavily features Pharrell — or "P", as Miley calls him — who serves as the catalyst for the "new" Miley, the one who is leading the movement. And it was apparently a cover that young Cyrus did of her godmother's song "Jolene" that made Pharrell want to meet her, and it was even Pharrell that served as the final okay for her hair chop. Yet, it was also Pharrell who provided the most insight into the "movement." When explaining why the offspring of a country superstar would want to twerk, he summarizes: "She's the byproduct of America."
Whether or not he meant to, "P" summed up Miley perfectly. She is a byproduct of America (she's one of those "pre-iPhone kids," after all), one that is amalgamating pop cultural tropes and subcultural memes and mashing them together in one fuzzy bear-filled, glow-in-the-dark, red-lipsticked performance that looks like it would be right at home in a Bushwick warehouse. She strains twerking of its New Orleans bounce and Chicago juke origins, until it's watered down enough for MTV. In fact, that might actually be said movement: serving up cultural references sans full understanding — but still embracing "instincts" and self-expression — and going hard all the same.
An aside: MTV features a clip called Miley Keeps Cool Under Pressure Before Legendary VMA Performance. In it, you see how controlling Miley is over her own image (interesting) and how involved her mother is in her life (also interesting), but you also witness Miley definitely not keeping her cool, and quickly losing her temper and then rapidly (like, instantly) getting it together. It's a raw look into the world of pop music.