There’s a lot of hate out there about Miley Cyrus.
Sure, she has more money at 16 than most people will have in their entire lifetimes and her demographic consists basically of preteen girls who hang on every word of the hit Disney show Hannah Montana. Oh, yeah, and having a famous father probably doesn’t help her street cred any either.
But Cyrus’s new Wal-Mart exclusive EP, aptly titled The Time of Our Lives, debuts a new sound for the budding songwriter. Sure, a few of the tunes are still obviously aimed toward her younger fans, but as a 20-year-old college junior, I honestly believe that the EP contains some of Cyrus’s best work to date.
The album’s first single “Party in the USA” is so catchy it will probably be stuck in your head for weeks after just one listen. “Party” is rather reminiscent of Cyrus’s early work and is one of the aforementioned tracks specifically placed for her younger audience, but the lyrics about going to clubs and dancing with friends can be appreciated by fans of every age. I’m sure that like 2007’s “See You Again,” “Party” will be remixed and redone until it’s played in just about every dance club in the United States.
The other five solo tracks showcase Miley’s ever-growing range. Listened to in order, the EP plays like a mixed tape of every successful pop diva from the turn of the century. “Kicking and Screaming” reminds me of Ashlee Simpson. “Time of Our Lives” sounds like a slightly younger Katy Perry. And “Talk is Cheap” could just as easily have been performed by Avril Lavigne.
While channeling different pop artists for every song may come off like Miley is being lazy and trying to imitate rather than make her own art, the beauty of it is that Miley has combined every aspect of what made Simpson, Perry, and Lavigne resonate with their audiences and turned it into very much her own thing.
An added bonus to fans of both Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers is a live version of “Before the Storm,” a collaboration between the two Disney creations. Even though I actually don’t care very much for the boys named Jonas or for live material, I thoroughly enjoyed this recording. The song’s rich harmony and the contrast between Cyrus’s lower, darker voice and the Jonas’ higher, more feminine voices make the song one of the most beautiful songs ever released by either artist.
Cyrus is growing up and her music is maturing along with her. There’s no question in my mind that she will be around for a very, very long time, immortalized forever in the hearts of millions of squealing preteen girls who enjoy the rhythmic dance tunes and those few, brave older fans who turn to Miley’s softer break up songs for comfort after experiencing a bad relationship.
All in all, The Time of Our Lives is no Thriller or Abbey Road, but when you consider her age, that shouldn’t be a surprise. Cyrus has room to grow, and I personally plan on going along for the entire ride.