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Bad Publicity – Does It Exist? ‘Twerking’ Queen Miley Cyrus Makes An Impact

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock

30.9.2013

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Miley Cyrus – these are the only words on everyone’s lips right now. The ‘Hannah Montana’ star has clearly done away with her ‘good girl’ image and unleashed a whole new side to her with crazy/sexy music videos and risky TV performances.

To enlighten you if this is new information to your ears Miley Cyrus has caused a lot of controversy around her. Her first single ‘We Can’t Stop’ (hitting No.2 in The Billboard Hot 100) off her yet to be released new album ‘Bangarez’ out October 8th, sparked the public’s interest with her strong sexual image and attitude within the music video for the single which also showed Miley expressing herself through ‘twerking’ which entertained fans to say the least. It has been described as ‘raunchy’ and ‘strange’ and the song talks about taking control and living with the YOLO (You only live once) attitude, “It’s our party we can do what we want” being the main message.  The lyrics have been criticized however with the line “”Everyone’s in line at the bathroom / Tryna get a line in the bathroom”. This is believed to be referring to taking ‘lines’ of cocaine and this shocked critics and fans to have Miley sing about such a topic.

The next single to be released was the hugely successful ‘Wrecking Ball’. This music video has been seen in two ways by fans/critics. It starts by showing a sensitive side to the singer with her crying to the camera at the beginning of the video which viewers found as an unexpected change to her image that she had given in ‘We Can’t Stop’ which creates sympathy to the singer, however later in the video the singer strips off fully naked whilst hanging on a huge ball and chain ‘the wrecking ball’. Some fans see this as a beautiful image of her vulnerability and emotional message within the song whilst others see this as ‘slutty’ and ‘inappropriate’ of the singer. As a result of the content of this video it gained the title of the most views gained on Vevo in 24 hours and currently stands at 44 million views on YouTube along with sparking off spoof videos such as Radio 1 DJ Greg James who strips off in the same fashion as Miley. Whether the world needed to see that image is up to debate but this certainly increased awareness of the original video further.

To increase the ‘buzz’ around the singer her recent MTV Video Music Awards performance of ‘We Can’t Stop’ and appearance on Robin Thicke’s performance of his No.1 hit ‘Blurred Lines’ showed Miley Cyrus bending over in front of the singer with her tongue out in a very ‘sexual nature.’ Miley fully embraces her actions and even states that MTV edited out much of her performance “I was trying to slap Robin’s ass but no one saw it! Believe me! MTV edited so much. They cut almost everything I did.” I guess the live audience are to ask about how explicit Miley really was that night.

“I feel like music is really stale right now. I could have guessed what a lot of artists would have done that night. The reaction to what I did has been insane. I think it was a breath of fresh air! For the people that don’t get it, you weren’t meant to.”

This saw the sales of her singles increase dramatically after the performance and everyone in the media are now talking about her and eager to see what she does next all in time for her album release date on the 8th October which leaves everyone eager to see what she delivers.

So is she a marketing genius? Sure the majority of the press have been negative with comments such as she is ruining her image and alienating her original fan base however accompanied with positive comments that she is breaking boundaries and that people love what she is doing as it is exciting to watch.

Whether it’s bad press or good press we can be sure on one thing; it is press. Miley has succeeded in her goal; to get EVERYONE talking about her. She is unavoidable. Personally all I see on my Twitter and Facebook news feeds are posts about Miley Cyrus; it’s not uncommon now. She has grabbed everyone’s interest and now the world is doing the rest of the marketing for her; even if a viewer doesn’t like Miley Cyrus this still doesn’t stop them showing the videos to their friends just to share their dislike (or like!) of the singer. The singer knew what she was doing all along saying the VMA performance was “meant to push the boundaries,” and that she wanted the act to be as memorable as the Britney and Madonna kiss at that same award show years ago, “That’s what you’re looking to do, make history,”  and she certainly has.

So yes, this is nothing new to the media. It has been known that shock tactics gain press and boost artist’s careers. As described above Britney and Madonna did it with their kiss on stage sending the media into a whirlwind of mixed comments, Lady GaGa with her ‘flattering’ meat dress which not only shocked her fans but also put her in the eye of animal rights activists which reached out to a whole new audience of people; whether the press were positive or negative it created attention around these singers. This isn’t a recent tactic to evolve either, one of the biggest examples of creating a buzz through controversial lyrics were from Frankie Goes to Hollywood with their 1984 hit ‘Relax’ whereby BBC Radio 1 banned the song due to its lyrics having reference to gay sex. As a result of this ban however the press generated helped boost the song to No.1 at which it stayed at for 4 weeks and even reappeared a few months later peaking at No.2.

So I ask you. Is there such a thing as bad press? It is said that any press is good press as the point of press is to get everyone talking about it and surely if that has happened then the artist has been successful in their efforts. Sure these publicity stunts and controversial lyrics/videos may put of some fans and critics but if she has a goal in mind then I’m sure she realises that she can’t sit on the fence and please everyone anymore. This is a statement of how she wants to be seen now and this will open her up to a whole new audience of fans. Also, if the song is good then people will like it. I’m sure people find themselves singing ‘We Can’t Stop’ to themselves quietly however reassuring everyone that they do actually hate the song and of course it’s not their fault that they can’t get it out of their head but the media’s fault… but still sing it anyway! Many keep these songs/artists as their guilty pleasure and if that gets the artist a download or YouTube view then I’m pretty sure the artist wins.

Miley knows what she is doing and she is doing it well. I stumbled across news of a special documentary about the singer October 2nd on MTV where Miley let her fans into her life and reveals her reasoning behind the whole decision to change her image and to show who she really is. I’ll definitely be watching.

She has done the unexpected and completely reinvented herself. Whether this is for the better it is hard to say but for now she is the hot topic.

So I ask you, is Miley a marketing genius? Do you agree with her approach to gaining new fame and attention or do you feel this has changed her career for the worse? One thing for sure is that she really has made an impact and this is likely not the end of it.

Share and tweet about and join in the discussion with me in the comments!



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