Miley Cyrus Redeems Herself on SNL
To say that Miley Cyrus has over-saturated all channels of popular culture since her notorious VMA performance on August 25 would be, well, kind. Her maniacal, tongue-sprouting grin or gyrating, vinyl-clad body--or both!--have been ubiquitous since. Dialogue detailing cultural appropriation and the racist implications of her "We Can't Stop" video and its VMA treatment began as soon as the broadcast of the awards show ended. Late last week, Sinead O'Connor wrote an open letter to Cyrus, addressing Cyrus' recent Rolling Stone cover story and comments she'd made citing O'Connor as an inspiration for her look and the "Wrecking Ball" video. In her letter, O'Connor begs Cyrus to fire anyone who lets her "prostitute" herself for the benefit of the music industry while reminding her that her records are fine enough on their own without her writhing up and down on a taut chain for a music video. Cyrus responded by mocking O'Connor. Hours after that, famed lens-toting creeper Terry Richardson posted a series of photos that started the backlash up all over again, and Miley, with her nipples all over the internet and YouTube plays for the "Wrecking Ball" leaping close to 200 million, told Sinead that she couldn't respond to her latest letter because she was too busy practicing for her hosting/performing gig on Saturday Night Live.
In short: "I'm just being Miley" has segued into "I'm just being a walking wet dream of a dissertation for a pop culture sociologist," and all of this came to a glorious, table-turning head for this season's Disney Girl Gone Bad on SNL.
Not only was Cyrus funny at both her own expense (and that of Michelle Bachman) from opening monologue to rolling credits, but her performances were engaging and thought-provoking for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with twerking or showcasing her esthetician's best Brazilian waxwork. This acoustic version of "We Can't Stop," for starters: it may be hokey to have three guys emphatically strumming a bunch of basic chords in unison while Cyrus, sporting not-so-virginal white, earnestly works her way through a solemn take on what we've come to know as a goofy party trip. The contrast was breathtaking, and the effect doubled when she actually focused on the music as opposed to constructing a circus around it.
And theeeeeen we've got "Wrecking Ball," which was--and we can't believe we're about to say this--one of the better SNL performances the show's seen in years. The bombast, drama, energy, and execution Cyrus and band brought forth gave us a preview of what to expect from her when she eventually hits the road and plays this song to packed arenas. That SNL stage is small. The Lumineers made that same stage look enormous by stomping around like goofballs when they took to it for a lackluster performance of "Ho Hey" last season; Phoenix and Vampire Weekend followed suit by falling short, in that they went through the motions without doing the records they were hyping or their live chops justice. The only person who redefined expectations for SNL's musical guest expectations last season was Kanye, and Cyrus--who considers West a "homie" according to that Rolling Stone cover story--came millimeters close to upstaging him with that epic, arena-ready ballad Saturday night.
And how'd it go over with everybody else? Plenty are calling "Wrecking Ball" the best power ballad in years and yet half of the cronies who figured out how to spew hate in 140 characters can't get over Mileygate at the VMAs or the "Wrecking Ball" vid to appreciate a heartfelt performance live and in the flesh. Still, famous people were into it SO THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS, GUYS. (Well, famous people besides John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, anyway.)
To the tweets!!!