By now, millions of girls and boys, moms and dads have found out Miley Cyrus' deep, dark secret, the one so scandalous that the 15-year-old phenom could only reveal it on her "grown-up" new album. That's right, gather close, keep your voices hushed:
Miley Cyrus likes boys!
There was great ballyhoo behind Tuesday's release of Breakout, mainly because Cyrus was selling the album as (1) her first official departure from her Disneyfied Hannah Montana alter ego and (2) her first official departure from her tween fanbase. Couple that with a few saucy Cyrus snaps in Vanity Fair, and some were expecting the aural arrival of Lolita Montana.
As it turns out, the biggest thing 'rents have to worry about here is a brutal cover of Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Want to Have Fun. It's chilling to think I'll be hearing that screecher over and over on the way to preschool for the next three months.
For all the chatter of the teen star ditching Hannah (which she does) and embracing her racy side (which she doesn't), Miley is still Disney's billion-dollar darling, albeit one who now wants to harmlessly party with girls AND boys. That's the big difference. Girlfriend has gone coed, like Avril Lavigne without the obscene hand gestures.
Writing many of the songs herself, Miley chirps about chasing boys (Full Circle) and dumping boys (The Driveway) and a lil' thing called L-O-V-E (7 Things). Will it lose her younger fans? Maybe. 'Cause let's face it, boys are gross. That said, the album isn't going to scar anyone.
Well, scar anyone under 18. The real twist here, girls and boys, moms and dads, is that Cyrus was far catchier as the bewigged Miss Montana. The great goofy hooks of Who Said and I Got Nerve have been replaced with droning blasts of synth and hookless party cries. There's a certain charm to Miley's warbly voice, a Southern-inflected coo that strives to be so much older than it really is. Unfortunately, producers often tweak her vocals so much, any sweetly awkward nuance is lost. That's too bad. Growing up is one thing; growing boring is another.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.