The recent Miley Cyrus television special on NBC was a vivid indicator of how far the 21-year-old pop singer has traveled. Watching it, it’s hard to process that a mere three years ago this was the star of Disney’s successful tween TV show Hannah Montana.
You’ve got to sympathize with the shenanigans of Cyrus if you — a presumed adult — ever sat through 30 minutes, let alone a Montana marathon, of Miley playing a “regular” teen by day who’s secretly a mega pop star by night. Like most Disney shows aimed at pre-adolescents, it’s remarkably goofy. And it gives an eye into the brand challenge that Cyrus and her team faced in trying to get from there to where she is now.
Cyrus elicits eye-rolls but she is certainly, if one is being honest, a talented, brazen performer who’s comfortable onstage.
If you’re 16 or under, you are likely already familiar with Hannah Montana. It made Cyrus‘s name and following. And if you’re the parent of a 16 or under, you too know the show and might have been pulled in when you realized, “Wait, isn’t that Billy Ray Cyrus playing Miley’s father?” But only for a few minutes.
Surprising to many, the two-hour special on NBC drew a lukewarm 2 million viewers despite plenty of promotion and a prime time slot. Maybe it would have done better on a Disney station. Cyrus elicits eye-rolls but she is certainly, if one is being honest, a talented, brazen performer who’s comfortable onstage. At least one longtime observer Sandra Graham, who’s worked with the likes of Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez and who owns Graham Communications, said she reminded her of Madonna.
Two hours of Cyrus “just going in her own direction,” as she said back in 2011 when she quit HM, was enough to make us think about how she took hold of our collective consciousness in the first place — pre-twerking, pre-nudity and pre-wrecking ball.