Hannah Montana is dead. Long live Hannah Montana? Nah, the new Miley Cyrus, now that she's a young woman of 20 and seemingly fully liberated from her Disney/Billy Ray shackles, is way more fun. It surprises me to find myself saying that — usually former teen star rebellion is pretty irksome or unsettling (see: "I'm a Slave 4 U"). And yet in Miley's case, she's hitting just the right notes, somewhere between silly and... Well I don't want to say seductive, because that's still a little gross to say about Miley freaking Cyrus, but she's putting out a slinky party girl vibe that, while undoubtedly a ridiculous performance, has a certain hook to it.
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We need look no further than the just-released video for her new song "We Can't Stop" for a prime example of what nü-Miley looks and sounds like. The song has been out for a few weeks now and it's a sprightly, vaguely RiRi-esque thumper about partying, filled with thinly veiled references to drugs ("Dancing with Molly," for example) and other relatively harmless innuendos. It's a good-times jam, not exactly something you dance to at a club, but definitely something teens and the like will sing in cars this summer.
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The video amps up the sexytimes and other attempts at shock value, and it's delightfully absurd. Not just the imagery — a skull made of French fries, a hundred dollar bill sandwich, Miley twerking — but also the bawdy "Look at me now" audacity of it. It's obvious that Miley thinks she's being pretty cool in the video, but I'm also detecting a hint of a sly playfulness; there's a sense that none of this bed writhing and "don't give a f--k" posturing is being taken that seriously. Which, if true, is terrific — self-awareness is a rare thing in showbiz, especially among Miley's peer group. Of course it's possible that all of this is 100 percent sincere, in which case burn it all to the ground, but I don't think that's quite the case.
Cyrus has been acquitting herself gamely in other arenas, opening up in interviews in a confident but not showy way. Sure there was some dumb unpleasantness recently involving some Twitter bragging, but otherwise she's been giving good interview. In a new Rolling Stone profile, she's asked if she smokes weed and her answer is, "I did a song with Snoop Dogg called 'Ashtrays and Heartbreaks,' so people can put it together for themselves." A little braggy, yes, but also funny and, in its own way, honest. She also talks openly about her career, saying "The reason I never really loved acting was because you can't be yourself. I don't want to be an actor -- I want to be an artist." Good for her for admitting that she didn't like the thing that made her most famous — not that she was ever terribly good at it, mind you — and yay for the youthful naiveté that allows someone to say "I want to be an artist" in a Rolling Stone interview. An honest Miley is a good Miley, silliness and all.
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So I'm endorsing Miley... 3.0? Probably 3.0. Her 2.0 phase was probably back in the "Can't Be Tamed" days, those first overstated steps into rebelliousness. This latest Miley iteration feels blessedly less synthetic, though of course it has been produced and orchestrated with commercial deliberateness. Whatever, though. Right? Whatever. I like the hair, I like the song, I like the goofy video. She's having fun. So let's have fun with her.