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Music Review: Miley Cyrus – Breakout

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More people seem to be invested in Miley Cyrus’ trip to adulthood and maturity than will vote in the election. Ever since her conception at the hands of the robots at Disney, Miley’s been sheathed with the unavoidable fixation of the media and the unyielding adulation of fans everywhere. From the iniquitous Vanity Fair pictures to other shots of Miley in various stages of undress, her maturation has been a veritable goldmine for our celeb-obsessed culture and pervy granddads.

All the while, Ms. Cyrus has been coated in the ditzy gloss of Disney mania. Given the mantle of the Innocent Teen, Miley betrayed us all by acting like the Normal Teen and getting busted cold for it. The truth came crashing down like a ton of glitzy bricks: Miley Cyrus was ours and she blew it.

This girl can’t grow up. Not yet. We’re not prepared.

So Miley apologized for the Vanity Fair stuff, denied a few rumours here or there, and was back in our good graces right up until the moment she started talking about a Sex-less show and her new album. Her new one was going to be more adult, more mature, and it was going to have nothing to do with that Hannah Montana crap.


Called Breakout, Miley’s latest is amazingly quite good and often very telling. The most evident and distinguished characteristic of the album is her voice. It’s quite good, not “OMFG good” just yet, but it’s certainly quite satisfying to listen to. And she’s not afraid to take risks with it. I expect she’s able to exhibit her vocal qualities better than any member of Danity Kane. Yeah, I went there.

Don’t worry, parents, Miley’s not going all Madonna on your asses. The “provocative” nature of Breakout is largely confined to being dissatisfied, missing out on life a little, and kissing boys… ever so lightly… on the cheek. No bare skin, no backseat romps, no drugs, no smuggling immigrants across the border in the back of Billy Ray’s pickup truck.

Instead, Miley’s talking about being stuck in class (“Breakout”) and how she doesn’t understand it fully, but believes we should take care of the environment (“Wake Up America”). Refreshingly candid, Cyrus is impressive on the latter when she claims to not know what the issue is all about but knows we need to take better care of our world.

And “Fly on the Wall” kicks all sorts of butt thanks to its immaculate production and swirling dance-rock stuff.

There are moments that feel torn from an Avril CD, but Miley’s able to bring things up a touch and exceeds the Canadian pop-punk princess in go-getting energy on “Full Circle” and “The Driveway.”

There are some clunkers on here, of course, but even the bad songs show some signs of life. Take “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” for instance. Miley takes the Lauper cover and tries to conquer the feebly-produced track with her vocals, only to come across sounding more like a girl who just wished she could finally have some fun and less like a girl who knows what fun actually is.

So, like, yeah. Trust me, I’m as worried about this as possible. Not only does Miley have the nerve to think about growing up and adulthood and all that stuff, but she didn’t just go all Avril-lite on us.

Other reviews have Ms. Cyrus’ vocals on Breakout coming off a bit like a young Bonnie Raitt. At first I laughed at this assessment, but after a few listens it becomes clear that Miley Cyrus is capable of something special in music. Breakout may not be watertight, but it is certainly a good record and exceeded my expectations a great deal.

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About Jordan Richardson

  • We didn’t let Tom Johnson about this in the New Album Releases column. But we should have let you.


  • Write about it that is. We didn’t let him write about it. Back to my keyboard now…


  • Bryson

    u wish Miley Cyrus could sing better than any member of Danity Kane!!!!! just another generic talentless disney spawn!!!

  • miley#1fan

    ur not good at reviews quit now

  • Lmao

    You think she can sing better than Danity Kane?!

    She cannot sing.
    Not only in an opinion-type way but vocal wise, she sucks.

    And her acting is so unbelievable.
    Like when she’s nervous and does this huge gulp thing, on HM.
    After this show ends, Disney will help her and she may book a few jobs but than she’ll just fade into nothing.

    She has no talent.
    Yes, she isn’t stage scared.
    Yes, she isn’t totally ugly.

    But she has no talent.
    There are so many talented people who don’t get the credit the deserve.

    Than again Disney isn’t known for casting such great actors/singers.

    I’m so happy Disney has stepped it up at least a little.
    Selena Gomez is a great actor and Demi Lovato is a great singer.
    And vise versa they are both alright with the opposite.
    That’s a change.

    And the Jonas Brothers a good too.

    Miley Cyrus honeslty…..
    She’ll end up on one of those “Where Are They Now” shows along with her father.

  • They didn’t let me write about it because I don’t know enough about Danity Kane, apparently. I totally thought Miley was the better singer.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Tom, you should write about it anyway. I’d love to see your take on it.

    (I also have to admit that my DK line was basically a nice juicy piece of bait. Glad to see it worked.)

  • Jordan, I think my family would check me into an institution if they found me listening to a Miley Cyrus album, even just for the intention of reviewing it. 😉

    As for Miley, even if she winds up in the “where are they now” files, she’s going to be very rich “wherever she is then.”

  • claire

    i dont fully agree
    your review styles aren’t
    the best. but i think mileys cd was very
    good for someone of her age i mean compare her
    to hilary duff at this point.

    and as for lmaos review
    i think you have no idea what your talking
    about and you sound 10 i disagree that
    the jonas brothers and demi and selena
    are better as i see it they are all at the teeny bop level and all you said about miley
    could be true for anyone else you said.

  • funny kid

    i don’t think that miley has as much talent as people give her credit for. i mean, the only reason she became as famous as she did was because of her dad’s past. i think if you’re going to strive for stardom, then you should at least be good at what you do. im not saying that she’s a bad person, i just don’t think she’s got the talent to be where’s she’s at.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I actually don’t think people give her enough credit for how talented she is. She has a damn good voice and its evident on this record. Cyrus is able to sing some rather complex pieces of music, which is very impressive for someone her age.

    I’m not entirely sure about the Machine of Hype foisted upon this young girl and, frankly, I couldn’t give a shit. Her personal life has been dragged out and around by her handlers with the focus of making more money and giving her exposure. As such, the natural thing happened and the public turned on her. You’d be hard-pressed to find many people over the age of 15 saying that Miley Cyrus is talented, actually. Most simply go the “she’s a Disney creation” route because it’s safer, it makes us feel better. Entire essays could be written about this ideology (and have been written) that we want to see the mighty fall. Cyrus got too big, too fast, and I fear that her actual vocal talents will go largely overlooked by an overcooked and overexposed presence.

    Had Cyrus done country music and followed in her father’s footsteps, I would have bought that she got famous riding the Achy Breaky coattails. But Billy Ray’s fame hit its peak before most of Miley’s fans were even born. His presence may have opened some doors, but to suggest Miley’s simply the product of a one-hit wonder country singer is a little much. It may have helped, but it was hardly all it took.

    And I don’t blame her for wanting to distance herself and start establishing some groundwork for a longer career away from the Hannah Montana garbage. It’s an overacted, unfunny show that has millions upon millions of fans. It’s perfect for that age group and Miley overdoes it because that’s how you act on a kids-tweens show. I still think she could do something more significant in terms of acting if she wanted to, but too many people crucify the medium without realizing what Hannah Montana is really for. If you really want to stop bullshit television like this, stop supporting the monstrous Disney. Don’t simply blame one of its stars and then go out and watch High School Musical or drool over the Jonas Brothers. It’s the same shit, different pile.

    So yeah, what can I say, I like the kid. She’s made as good an album as a 15-year-old is going to make, I think. I enjoyed it greatly and will continue to enjoy it, without shame and without apprehension.

  • Chas

    People who think she has a “voice” need to understand how things work in an actual recording studio, especially when a singer has NO voice to speak of. Her “voice” is processed and pitch-corrected to within an inch of its life. It’s layered and overdubbed and basically CHANGED until it does not even resemble the original squawks of the “singer.”

    The true test of a singer is how they sing in a “live” setting. Plain and simple. And to see just how truly talentless this kid is, YouTube her Good Morning America performance of ‘7 Things’ and see for yourself. Tone-deaf and horrible.

    The moral of the story is that this brat is just an illusion fabricated by Disney, and America currently can’t get enough fakery and illusion to satisfy itself. Lame. Without the studio buttons & knobs, and without the hair extensions and eyeliner, “Miley” is the slow-witted, glassy-eyed cashier at Burger King.

    The review was completely misleading.

  • The review is not misleading, Chas. It’s another typically excellent review from Jordan, who, I might remind you, is reviewing the music from the album, not her live performances, nor whether or not she can actually sing. Good critics review what they are given, not peripheral ephemera. Jordan is good.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I think we also have to remember that she’s 15 freakin’ years old. She sings very well for someone her age.

    And thanks Tom!

  • Bad Singer2

    Miley cyrus CANNOT sing or act.She is aweful at everything she dose in hollywood!Face it people,Miley’s voice is just loud and…TERRIBLE!She has no talent.I’m sorry to the miley cyrus fans that like her.It’s my opion about what i think of her.I just dont like miley.Sorry.

  • John

    As a voice teacher and choral director for the past 20+ years I have worked with thousands of voices. Miley’s voice has all the personal touches of a teenager trying to mimic a mature pop star with a very nasal glottal attack. I have heard her live and recorded and it all sounds the same. Her voice was cute and Disney had her marketed well with the younger kids(as with all their past stable of Hollywood phenoms) now I believe those younger kids don’t/won’t even listed to her( believe me I polled my 123 6th Grade, 71 7th Grade and 53 8th Grade choral singers…3 kids still listened to her or even paid any attention to her). So who is buying her albums and shirts and dolls, etc?
    Is the sound Disney/Daddy processed as well…. you can count on it, both recorded and in the live mix processing as well. On the Regis and Kelly show they wouldn’t even mix in the background singers so you could get a basis to compare with, what are most likely , two very good singers who should have been singing the solo and Miley should have been out in the crowd oooing and awwwing with her cell phone and cotton candy in hand.
    Jordan Richardson has pretty much hit the problem on the nail head above. The showbiz marketing pimps have used and abused her big time. I am afraid this young lady will pull a Brittney Spears professional and personal coup de grâce sometime in the near future. Shame on you Billy!

  • John

    In addition to the above… of the three kids who still paid attention to Miley and her music all three are ‘special needs’ kids( who I thoroughly enjoy having in my classes!) with probably 2nd -3rd grade maturity levels. You also have no idea how much time I have to spend trying to undo the Miley Cyrus/Brittney Spears nasal twangy glottal attack singing that kids come into choir with. It honestly gets worse every year.

  • Miley Rocks

    The site says personal attacks are not allowed, but I guess that excludes Miley! Miley haters SUCK!!! I thought the review was good and funny. And as for the teachers: Miley will be on top of her game long after the failed public education system shuts it’s doors!

  • Mileyfan

    Instead of just writing the obvious, which is that Miley Rocks! (I’ve heard her sing live three times), I would invite people to compare her songs with people who try to cover them. Miley does a better job veritably EVERY time! And she doesn’t get enough credit as songs such as The Climb are difficult songs to sing, so others who try usually don’t do well.