Miley Cyrus’s New Year’s Eve special on NBC was about building a new annual institution with a performer who will likely be an entertainment institution. Miley is almost 30 years old now, which is a trip in and of itself, and like so many other female popstars before her, her career has been about constant reinvention. The lane she’s in right now, though, millennial glam rock, seems to be sticking. And what’s interesting to me about her deal with NBCUniversal – the NYE special is the first project to come out of it – is that the partnership, at least so far, seems to be set up for her talents and personality; this is not usually the case for legacy networks. They’re big, clunky, and risk-averse. And Miley isn’t exactly a safe bet when it comes to live television.
But that’s also what you need if you’re trying to attract a different audience, and/or be the counter-option to Dick Clark’s NYE hosted by Ryan Seacrest: less polish, more spontaneity, more edge, more attitude, within bounds…but just within bounds.
And by all accounts, under ever-changing circumstances, Miley delivered. She and Pete Davidson played off their mutual messy energy, there were numerous references to cannabis use, which is just one example of how much space the network was giving Miley to work with, but also the show was grounded in performance ability – specifically Miley’s. Here’s a showbiz veteran showcasing a full range of skills, from pre-taped segments to live improvisations and ad-libs, and of course her musicality, as she debuted a new song, sang several of her classics, and shared the stage with several of her guests, including Brandi Carlile. Their six-minute set, starting with Brandi’s “The Story” and finishing with Miley’s “The Climb” was one of the highlights. If you haven’t watched this, please enjoy, I know you will.
But of course the moment that made the most headlines was her wardrobe malfunction, just after the countdown, while she was singing “Party in the USA”. Her top basically collapsed which…whatever, the actual malfunction was less titillating to me than her recovery. She didn’t miss much of the song, she left for maybe 20 seconds, and came back wearing a red blazer with no bra, joking that it was still more clothing than she usually has on stage – and continued with the performance, NBD. Because she’s a f-cking pro. Because she’s been at this for half her life, or more. Because she’s actually one of the most well-rounded entertainers in the industry. And her NYE special was a showcase – a flex – of her talents. Miley pulled off a successful production, without compromising her own signature performance style. This is a major win.
To see more videos from Miley’s NYE, click here.