Oh, to be the most famous teenager in the world — a queen even among Biebers, and the lesser (but still fluorescent) lights of the kiddie-aimed cosmos. So it is that Miley Cyrus’ growing pains, her ”Don’t call me Hannah Montana!” cris de coeur, are not recorded in a padlocked diary or a social-media status update, but writ across an entire album. On a label owned by Disney Inc., no less.
Miley Cyrus' Time of Our Lives EP spawned the carefree mega-hit “Party in the U.S.A.,” but on her second album, she does just about everything she can to distance herself from that look and sound to announce that she has grown up. On Can’t Be Tamed’s cover, she’s clad in black from her heavily lined eyes to the tips of her toes, sporting pale skin and chestnut hair several shades darker than Hannah Montana blonde. The album’s sound is several shades darker too, but within reason; while none of these songs sounds like it belongs on one of her alter ego’s albums, Can’t Be Tamed was released by Hollywood Records, Disney’s more mature imprint.
The novelist Ian Rankin recently had an encounter with Miley Cyrus while holidaying in Kefalonia. "I had to Google her," tweeted the discombobulated creator of Inspector Rebus. "I thought Hannah Montana was a Frank Zappa song." That isn't surprising. Rankin is famously a big music fan – his book titles borrow from the Rolling Stones, Bauhaus and Radiohead – but what he isn't is a seven-year-old girl, or even the long-suffering parent of one.
Amidst a storming array of percolating synths and stomping dance beats, Miley Cyrus’ third album under her own name opens with a declarative mantra: “Don’t live a lie!” And just like that, Miley Cyrus is stepping away from the House of Mouse to become her own woman, free of the shackles of the corporate machine that manufactured that squeaky-clean image that made her so popular to begin with (further evidenced by the disc’s marginally-risqué cover shot). Apparently, she’s done with living the “lie” that was her career up to this point and has now come into her own—or, at least, that’s what she wants us to think. Still released on the Disney-owned Hollywood Records, Can’t Be Tamed is the sound of yet another Radio Disney pop starlet shedding off her family-friendly image to become a sexually-charged pin-up that’s ready to enter the fray against all of those mainstream pop divas that inspired her ‘lo those many years ago.