For me, the thing that was shocking about Miley Cyrus’ now-infamous performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards wasn’t her lack of clothing and her sexualized moves (both of which have been part of female pop singer stage performances for decades — especially the VMAs), it was her clumsy and unprofessional awkwardness and wince-worthy singing. These elements made her gyrations and foam-fingering seem more like just some young woman on stage trying to be shocking, as opposed to a professional performer putting on a show. (And I’m someone who has no inherent problem at all with near or outright nudity and sexual gyrating during a performance!)
Miley has been defending her performance as some sort of orchestrated train wreck, and she followed it with an unimaginative and literal “Wrecking Ball” music video that seemingly neutered the emotional heart of the song with “shocking” nudity, tool licking, etc.
Needless to say, I was rather pessimistic when I heard Miley would be hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend, assuming she would just be using the opportunity as yet another stage for getting as naked and possible, sticking her tongue out, grabbing herself, and pretending to dance while actually just flailing about. (In other words, behaving just as her character Hannah Montana would imagine an adult female star being sexy, confident and shocking would behave.)
Imagine my surprise when the infamously “shocking” Miley Cyrus managed to do what I figured was damn near impossible… shock me! Miley dressed relatively conservatively (at least conservatively enough to not take away from her performance) and remained essentially stationary as she belted out emotional and hair-raising renditions of “Wrecking Ball” and “We Can’t Stop.”
The performances were quite simply great. But don’t trust me, watch them for yourself:
Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” live on SNL:
Miley Cyrus “We Can’t Stop” live on SNL:
If only Miley had done THAT at the VMAs! (Of course, I have to be the first to admit that simply delivering a stunning performance would not have generated nearly as many headlines as being ridiculous.) Now I just have to decide if I can get over the bad taste left in my mouth (which I suppose is very similar to licking a sledge hammer) and actually become a Miley Cyrus fan.
So what did you think of Miley’s straight-forward performances? Would you have liked to have seen more twerking?