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One week before she returns to the MTV VMA stage on Sunday, August 27, Miley Cyrus has debuted her latest music video. This time around there’s a lot less tongue and a lot more line dancing.
In the video for “Younger Now,” Cyrus goes back to her country roots, paying homage to Elvis Presley. It’s likely not a coincidence that the video was released the same week that marks the 40th anniversary of the King’s death.
Cyrus wears Presley inspired blue jumpsuit and shows off the famous thrust that sent teenagers around the world into a frenzy so many decades ago.
Wearing a kerchief and a brown cowboy shirt, Cyrus also gives a nod to some of country’s greatest artists, including Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Porter Wagoner.
Showing she still has some rebellion left in her, Cyrus hangs out with an elderly group of dancers in sock-hop style clothing, giving two women a kiss while she rocks her new pompadour.
The video ends with a good old-fashioned line dance, with Cyrus using the juxtaposition of little girls and elderly people to remind viewers that age ain’t nothing but a number.
Miley is not the first pop singer to reinvent her look and sound for new album.
In the pop world, an artists’ ‘era’ can quickly be identified simply by seeing a red carpet or concert photo. Madonna with wavy blonde hair, low rise jeans and a cowboy inspired aesthetic? The picture is likely from 1998 when she released Ray of Light. Gwen Stefani sporting bright pink hair means The Return of Saturn, while Rihanna with a cropped curly bob haircut means she had just become a Good Girl Gone Bad in the late 2000s.
Of course, the same can be said for Miley. Physically, the singer went through a drastic visual change between Can’t Be Tamed and Bangerz,, as well as huge musical overhaul. But for the most part, an artist’s evolution between albums is often less drastic than their change in appearance. Maybe that’s one reason why we often see artists continually changing their look, especially in the case of female performers. It’s a way to remind listeners and fans that the artist is entering a new phase of their career and that means there’s a need to buy the new album, the new merch, and get tickets to the latest concert.
While all the singers listed above have shown an evolution in their sound and style, Cyrus has displayed the greatest range in the shortest amount of time. Moving from a Disney child star to an 18-year-old ready to rebel against her squeaky-clean image was evident in Can’t Be Tamed. Heading into Bangerz, Cyrus was determined to showcase her most authentic self, which in 2013 meant bleached, cropped hair and a lot of tongue wagging and twerking. Cyrus’ overtly sexualized behavior on the red carpet and at award shows overshadowed the quality of music on Bangerz, but it succeeded in separating her from her past as Hannah Montana.
Her following album Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz had little promotion and was largely ignored by fans and critics, which was unfortunate considering the brilliance of the collection. But it could be argued that following the release of Bangerz and Dead Petz, Miley has finally exercised her rebellious demons, freeing her to move on to the next phase of her music.
With Younger Now, Cyrus has had a disappointing start. Her lead single “Malibu” is a pretty but forgettable ballad, falling short of the high expectations Cyrus brought upon herself with her last two records. Now with the release of the album’s title track, Cyrus is slowly returning to the honesty found in the lyrical content of Dead Petz, while also creating a song that has all the makings of hitting the top of the charts, a place Cyrus is used to sitting.
Following the release of her new video for “Younger Now,” Cyrus also included the track listing for her sixth studio album, which is set to be released on September 29. The album includes a duet with Cyrus’s godmother Dolly Parton, who also appears on Kesha’s latest album Rainbow.
But once the women find the music they’re most comfortable with making, doing a 180 for every album isn’t necessary to stay relevant. Change is good, but change for change’s sake isn’t. Just ask Dolly.