By Alice Browne
NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert format has been forced into a temporary rebrand in the last year, as the now cult-classic youtube series has had to move from their relaxed office turned studio to artists’ own ‘work from home’ setups. Miley Cyrus’ performance was no different, swapping the beloved desk for the intimacy of her tiny teenage bedroom- sort of.
Sporting a fuzzy cowboy hat as she perches on the end of a hot pink bed, we see her in a scaled-down set straight out of an old teen magazine. She powers through a three-track performance before eventually revealing her full band alongside her, taking her rightful place on stage. It seems only fitting that someone like Miley, an ever-changing force in the pop music scene, would use this new format to create something as theatrical as possible, despite obvious constraints.
The 90s teen dreamscape, cutting between standard and grungey VHS style camera work, compliments the setlist flawlessly as she opens with a rendition of Mazzy Star’s 1993 hazy classic Fade Into You. Adding to her growing list of covers released over the course of the pandemic, Miley once again makes it her own as she belts out lead singer Hope Sandoval’s powerful, yet previously sonically understated, lyrics. She follows the cover up with two stripped-back versions of songs from her latest retro rock and roll fuelled release Plastic Hearts. Performing “Golden G-String” and current radio fave “Prisoner”, she turns them both from electro inspired bangers into acoustic power ballads.
Cyrus performs with a sense of sincerity that many are all too quick to overlook in her. She’s both playful and heartfelt as she croons Golden G-String’s final chorus, ‘I have too much to lose / So I think I’ll stay / I can’t walk away’. The track was originally written in 2017 as a painful ode to an industry that sought to criticise her as she tried to define herself as an artist outside of her child star past. How far she seems from those days now, with the NPR performance proving just how natural and self-assured her presence and, in turn, music have become.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5-yezpcZNU
Image Credit: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/miley-cyrus-mazzy-star-fade-into-you-tiny-desk-concert-1120366/