In 2020, Miley Cyrus has spent lockdown reinventing herself, unleashing new old-school rockstar personal on her recent performances on MTV Unplugged and the Save our Stages Festival on Youtube. She covered a whopping seven songs over both performances – five in Unplugged and two in the SOS performance, her choices signaling her current touchstones.
For MTV Unplugged, Cyrus and her band the Social Distancers gave a country rock treatment to some contemporary pop and rock tracks, including Britney Spears’ “Gimme More”, the Cardigans’ “Communication” and Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe”, as well as retro favorites Nico’s “These Days”, and the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane”.
While the Cardigans cover is played pretty straight, with minimal change in sound, the Britney cover suffers, with some of the oomph of the original being lost with the slower country style. Similarly, “Sweet Jane” loses the charm of the original without the signature Velvet’s chug, which has been turned into a more ethereal swirling guitar sound. Watch them all before (video of the “These Days” is only available via the full episode on MTV).
In the SOS Performance, Cyrus upped the tempo, with a more standard rock sound. This makes her cover of The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” a decent performance, with lyrics and a tone that suits her ’80s-frontwoman style. Cyrus’ cover of “Zombie” by the Cranberries is rowdy and raucous, showing the full power of her vocals. She capped of the performance with her hit single “Midnight Sky” which in this reviewer’s opinion, is an absolute banger. Check out the full performance in the video below.