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Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball: what do you make of it?

Categories: Music

460-cyrus-screencap02.jpgSinger Miley Cyrus in her latest music video Wrecking Ball. (RCA Records/YouTube)

Miley Cyrus hasn't taken any time off since shocking audiences with her performance at the recent MTV Video Music Awards.

Now, the video for Wrecking Ball, the latest single from her upcoming album Bangerz, features the 20-year-old former Hannah Montana star completely nude, straddling the chain of a wrecking ball and performing sexually suggestive moves with a sledgehammer.

Directed by controversial fashion photographer Terry Richardson, Wrecking Ball employs innuendo about as delicately as an actual wrecking ball. But it appears to have served its purpose: so far amassing more than 59 million views on YouTube in just a few days.

It broke the record for the most views of a music video on the Vevo video service in just 24 hours. Cyrus previously held the record for her song We Can't Stop, before that track was eclipsed by One Direction's Best Song Ever in July.

We've asked music business experts a few questions about this latest coming-of-age salvo.

1) What was your initial impression of Miley Cyrus's video for Wrecking Ball?

2) Will this image change put her at risk of losing the audience that followed her more family-friendly persona?

3) Will the publicity ultimately be positive or negative for her career?

Howard Bragman, vice-chairman of management firm

1) A smart appealing sexy video that will continue her momentum from her VMA performance.

2) The greater risk is losing her Hannah Montana audience if she didn't evolve with them.

3) We live in a world where controversy is Viagra for a music career. Unlike Chris Brown or Justin Bieber, her controversies are about her performances and her career - and not her misbehaviour in public. She is sending a loud and clear message that Hannah Montana is dead and Miley Cyrus is a beautiful, talented, sexual young woman with a great career ahead of her.

Sarah Liss, culture editor at Toronto weekly newspaper The Grid

1) I was actually kind of struck by how stiff and awkward and stage-y it was. Everything from Miley's pained efforts to squeeze a single perfect tear from her eye to her gratuitous nudity seems forced and unnatural. I'd also somehow forgotten/blocked out the fact that the notoriously pervy photographer Terry Richardson directed the video, but once his credit rolled at the end, the aesthetic and hypersexualized weirdness made more sense.

2) At this point, I just don't know that Miley has an audience to alienate. I mean, she has a massive following, but the kids who worshipped her as Hannah Montana have largely grown out of their tweens. Their parents might be put off, but I don't know that those parents were Miley's target demographic to begin with.

3) People are talking about her, which is more than you can say for a lot of ex-Disney kids. I'd guess hundreds of thousands of people who wouldn't have given Bangerz a second thought now know it exists and there's a good chance a healthy chunk of those people will secretly (or not-so-secretly) download at least one of the hit singles. So from where I'm standing, those are all career plusses.

Julien Paquin, President of Agency Division at Paquin Corporate Information

1) I was surprised it took Miley so long to take her clothes off! She's entered a long list of young starlets we've seen over the years create controversy by disrobing to gain notoriety.

2) Absolutely not. Those who know her from her more family-friendly days have also grown and there's a great chance that they too are now taking off their clothes.

3) Miley sexing up her image only creates conversation which, unless she is hurting someone, can do no harm to a career. Her VMA performance left everyone talking and whether you liked it or not, it's more memorable than any of the other performances that night.

Emily Smart, Six Shooter Records

1) The image of the wrecking ball has made appearances in respectable songs for decades. It's a strong metaphor with an impressive lineage in songwriting, and it's somewhat interesting to think about it popping up again in such racy pop context. But Miley's lyrics aren't scandalous in the least. In fact, there's nothing remotely controversial, let alone insightful or original there, so it's just an empty reference that provides easy visual translation.

2) Kids, even stars, have to grow up. It's hard to do this with grace and dignity even when you're not building an empire on your image and - by extension and "choice" - body. In a way, at least Miley is embracing adulthood - albeit a hypersexualized version of such - and has discarded the mini-kilts and cutesy trappings that make other post-teenage pop stars' grasping at their ephemeral youth so sad (sorry, Avril).

3) Wrecking Ball will occupy everyone's mind and Google search topic for a good 30 seconds, at most a few days. Then, likely, we'll all move on. This video provides a good opportunity for parents talk to their kids about body image, sexuality and so on, so it's probably easier to embrace those issues and face the conversations than dismiss it outright.

David Tysowski, owner, Canvas Media

1) I thought Miley was desperately trying to be cool, like her pop contemporaries. [It was] desperation to the point of humiliation. I mean, if you've got it, flaunt it. But if you don't, then you look like a naked Justin Bieber.

2) Not at all, the image change will help keep the fans of her own age and the tweens engaged. Sex sells. Tops off.

3) Unfortunately, due to social media, the "music" industry has become a popularity contest and Miley's winning big time right now.

Alanna Glicksman Toronto-based PR consultant and entertainment blogger

1) I think I was heard muttering, "What the...." While not surprising that Miley continued her daring path into womanhood, I was shocked she did it so overtly. Showing skin isn't new for young Hollywood, though most pop stars don't show nearly as much as Miley did. It (almost) made me yearn for the nude bra and panties.

2) In Miley's bid to say goodbye to her Disney years, she's risking alienating her original fan base. Gone is the good-girl persona she built as Hannah Montana as well as the legion of loyal fans who helped thrust her into stardom. Parents don't want their daughters looking up to Miley anymore - she'snot the role model she used to be. Instead, Miley is creating a new circle of fans that are into Miley 2.0.

3) Miley's behaviour keeps her name in the news. Each stunt is racier than the next and the drama in her personal life ensures we'll always have something to say about her. Love her or hate her, Miley and her team have successfully kept her name in the news for weeks. This career won't be wrecked any time soon, though her old image might be.

What do you think of Miley's new music video? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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