Miley Cyrus was on hand to support the Save Our Stages initiative in the US in October. An impressive roster of artists released live streams of special performances to support iconic music venues that are struggling financially because of the Covid-19 lockdown. A law is being pushed through the US Senate to support live venues and big names like the Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews and Macklemore were part of the 3-day virtual event to support the movement.
Miley Cyrus' name was up near the top of the billing for the event and she performed a flawless, 3-song set at the Whisky A Go-Go club in Los Angeles.
Cyrus opened with a spirited rendition of The Cure's, Boys Don't Cry. Dressed up for the event she channeled early Boy George with a long flowing coat and a stove pipe hat. (Although Boy George could never have pulled off those thigh-high boots!)
There was always a lot of debate about whether The Cure were a punk band or a goth band - and from time to time they bent one way or the other.
Miley's rendition of Boys Don't Cry is straight out of the late 70s punk scene. She adds a urgency and intensity to her vocals that Robert Smith never aimed for. Rather than Smith's 'flowery goth' she chose 'shouted punk' and it adds an edge to the song. Rather than the melancholy Cure performance under Miley's guidance its a punk classic reminiscent of The Undertones.
In the 3-song Whisky A Go Go set the success of Boys Don't Cry was only the sponge cake to be topped with the fondant icing of the Cranberries 'Zombie'.
Cyrus shows off her range as she effortlessly changes her vocal style to match the intensity of the anthemic Zombie.
The song was written by Cranberries lead singer Dolores O'Riordan in 1993 in response to the bombing in Warrington, United Kingdom, by the IRA. The attack lead to 56 injuries and the death of two children, aged 3 and 12. The Cranberries were touring the UK at the time and Dolores felt moved to write the song which was hailed as an anti-violence anthem. The song references 1916, when the Easter rebellion against English rule set off the decades-long campaign against English rule over Ireland.
"I remember at the time there were a lot of bombs going off in England and The Troubles were pretty bad,” singer Dolores O’Riordan said in a 2017 Classic Rock interview. “I remember being on tour and in the UK at the time… and just being really sad about it.”
O'Riordan originally wrote the song on a acoustic guitar but as the band rehearsed the song it became a much rockier, and rockier song than the Cranberries were known for. It went on to become their biggest hit and had over 1 billion views on YouTube.
Life came full-circle for the anti-war anthem and the Cranberries when they performed in 1998 at a ceremony to celebrate the leaders of the largest parties in Northern Ireland who had signed a peace agreement that year, bringing an end to the decades of violence.
Dolores O'Riordan tragically died in 2018 when she drowned in a hotel bath in London. She was found to have consumed drugs and alcohol but an inquest determined that her death was a tragic accident.
With the tiny Irish women with the powerful voice no longer able to do justice to the anthemic Zombie, Miley Cyrus is a worthy recipient of the mantel.
Her vocal style changes for a more measured performance, at least at the start. Miley's impressive live performance chops are more than capable of doing justice to the powerful nature of the song, taking the audience on a journey from the slow start to the tortured crescendo. "What's in your head!!"
Dolores is probably smiling down on Miley, and the rest of the band are definitely impressed! “We were delighted to hear of Miley Cyrus’ cover of Zombie at the Whisky a Go Go #SOSFEST in LA at the weekend,” they wrote on Twitter. “It’s one of the finest covers of the song that we’ve heard. We think Dolores would be very impressed!" the band Tweeted.
Fans will be pleased to hear that her version of Blondie's 'Heart of Glass', performed at the iHeart Music Festival earlier this month will also appear on the album.
Her gutsy, punky performance was reminiscent of a young Debbie Harry, whose powerful vocal performances brought fame and success for the group Blondie in the late 70s. The group managed to straddle the end of the punk era and the start of the techno-disco era, moving from tracks like Denis, earlier in the career, through the pumping 'Heart of Glass', to the more rhythmic 'Call Me', later in the career (The track was a big part of the success of the movie American Gigolo with a young Richard Gere).
Miley's powerful, raunchy vocals are a throwback to a young Debbie Harry whose stage presence drove the success of the late-punk classic.
Its all a million miles away from the Hannah Montana of Miley Cyrus's youth. But like so many former-child stars before her she's gone through the rebellious stage (think of a naked Miley rocking on a wrecking ball!). Now a more mature performer, who sings like she doesn't have to prove anything to anyone, she can concentrate on the songs and the message.
Miley has announced that her new album Plastic Hearts will be released on the 27th November. It will include the recent covers Zombie by the Cranberries and Heart of Glass by Blondie. Her recent hit Midnight Sky will be included and we can expect performances from Billy Idol and Dua Lipa.
Miley published a handwritten note on Twitter about the new album.