It’s easy to try and define Miley Cyrus as an artist and person. It’s more rewarding to understand her complexities.
There’s a new collective line of thought that goes something like this: Miley Cyrus has shed her controversial ways, turned her focus to issues that matter, and more or less grown up. It’s a captivating narrative! It’s also very incomplete.
Two years removed from the start of her Bangerz era and Twerkgate at the 2013 VMAs, Cyrus has spent the past few months focused on a charity campaign, social politics, recording covers of rock classics and keeping her clothes on. Her Happy Hippie Foundation was founded to aid homeless youth and raise LGBT awareness, and has done so through taped “backyard session” performances alongside artists like Joan Jett, Ariana Grande and Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace. In recent weeks, Cyrus has ripped Indiana’s discriminatory legislation, supported Bruce Jenner’s quest for transgender awareness and made some forward-thinking comments about gender norms, while also declaring that she doesn’t need a romantic partner to be happy. She’s also covered songs by the Replacements and Crowded House, earning a new avalanche of indie cred.
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In her Vulture review of Cyrus’ performance at the Adult Swim upfront party earlier this month, Lindsay Zoladz writes about spotting the look on someone else’s face when they realize that Cyrus “might actually be something more than a twerking, smirking, Gremlin-esque Horsewoman of the Apocalypse.” I, too, have come into contact with those looks — the moment it dawns upon someone that Cyrus is a pop personality no longer worth dismissing for her boundary-pushing antics. Often, they chalk it up to the passage of time. “She’s over 21 now,” one friend told me recently — as if being able to legally drink means that you’re an adult and no longer the spawn of Satan.
The reality is, Cyrus was never a demon, and she’s not a saint now. She’s both extremely articulate and gloriously messy. She’s neither a paradox nor an inconsistency. Cyrus defies categorization, like everyone does to some degree, and that’s perfectly okay. The sooner we can collectively accept that, the easier it will be to “get” what Cyrus is doing.
Crowded House frontman Neil Finn has given his stamp of approval to Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande’s new cover of his band’s 1986 classic “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”
The pair’s video, which features them performing while clad in footie pajamas, hit the Web yesterday. It’s part of Cyrus’ “Backyard Sessions” to raise awareness for her Happy Hippie Foundation, which aids homeless and LGBT youth.
Cyrus recently surprised fans by covering Dido’s “No Freedom” on her own and the Replacements’ “Androgynous” with help from Joan Jett and Against Me’s Laura Jane Grace.
“What a life that song has had,” Finn tells Billboard exclusively of “Dream.” “I’m happy to see them enjoying it so much and hope it inspires some donations to a good cause.”
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” is arguably the best-known song in the catalog of Crowded House, who rose to fame in the 1980s from the ashes of seminal New Zealand rockers Split Enz. “Dream” hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1987 and has since been covered by everyone from Sixpence None The Richer and Susan Boyle to Faith No More and Diana Krall.
Crowded House split in 1996 but reunited a decade later, and has since released two studio albums and toured extensively. Finn tells Billboard he is writing songs for a new album, performing rare solo shows in Melbourne and Sydney later this month and has just produced an album for young New Zealand artist Jesse Sheehan. What’s more, “I’m studying volcanoes in my spare time,” he says.