“And did I mention? I need attention.”
And attention you shall get, Miley.
On April 1, former Disney channel starlet Miley Cyrus dropped her first live album, “Attention: Miley Live.” Each of the 20 tracks — barring the two new songs, “ATTENTION” and “You”— were selected by fans in an effort by Cyrus to put on her best show yet.
The album, which was recorded at the SuperBowl Music Fest, sends listeners hurtling through time, revisiting every Cyrus era dating all the way back to her ‘Hannah Montana’ days. The “Wrecking Ball” singer also features several fan favorite covers including Blondie’s “Glass Hearts” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
Not only does it venture through time, but “Attention: Miley Live” crosses genre lines, featuring hip-hop, rock, punk-rock, blues, disco and even big band influences.
While Cyrus’ powerful vocals impressed as always, the band definitely stole the show. A prominent horn section, creative percussion and bold electric guitar are highlighted throughout.
Sassy trumpets, crashing cymbals and funky bongos elevate “Plastic Hearts,” the title track on her previous album, to a new and spectacularly improved level. The beats in the intro and bridge are reminiscent of The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” which seems fitting considering the singer has “ROLLING $TONE” tattooed across the bottom of her feet.
Cyrus’s solo rendition of “Edge of Midnight,” which was originally a collaboration with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks, is another high point in the album. Again, the live version integrates a horn section and impressive percussion, but a dramatic, gritty guitar performance transforms this song from good to amazing. Cyrus does cut the iconic line “Loved by you” at the very end, but eliminating high notes is an inevitable consequence of live music.
Although it could have been done without “Nothing Compares 2 U,” another highlight on this fan-curated album is “Wrecking Ball x Nothing Compares 2 U.” This rendition finally gives “Wrecking Ball” the harmony it deserves and the crashing drums featured in the chorus reflect better than ever the destruction and unraveling expressed in the lyrics.
The live versions of her famous throwbacks “The Climb” and “Party in the USA” reflect how far Cyrus came in the music industry. “The Climb” showcases the vocal grit that Cyrus developed over years of performing and after having undergone corrective surgery for Reinke’s edema in 2019. This track also feels less hopeful and more reminiscent, with the star looking back rather than forward.
“Party in the USA” expressed similar growth. Cyrus becomes astonishingly rowdy while performing this song because hey, she’s not new to Hollywood anymore, she runs it now. She also sprinkles in a tribute to Britney Spears screaming “Free Britney” where the original lyric is “and the Britney song was on.”
Though “Attention: Miley Live” includes many incredible renditions that may even be better than the original songs — *cough* “Plastic Hearts” *cough* “Wrecking Ball” — the album isn’t all perfect. Songs like “Never Be Me,” “7 Things,” and “High” are less than memorable. Cyrus also omits several infamous high notes in “The Climb,” “Party in the USA,” and “Edge of Midnight,” and while this is understandable considering the album was recorded live, it is lamentable nonetheless.
Despite these few shortcomings, Cyrus captures our attention and holds it tight. “Attention: Miley Live” is a must listen for fans new and old and for those unable to attend a concert in person, this album is an unexpectedly outstanding substitute.
Featured image courtesy of Bruce Torress via Creative Commons.