Like every teenager, Miley Cyrus is having some growing pains. Unfortunately for her, they are playing out in a very public way.
The 16-year-old Disney superstar is clearly stretching, trying to shed her previously squeaky-clean image. She is in the middle of her first headlining tour of arenas as herself - and not her fictitious alter ego, Hannah Montana. Her recent singles, "The Climb" and "Party in the U.S.A." have not only continued her run at the top of the charts, but have offered a look at how she may plan to build her grown-up music career.
New York songwriter Claude Kelly, who wrote "Party in the U.S.A.," said he is thrilled with what Cyrus did with the song, even though it wasn't originally written for her. "We made some tweaks to it to reflect who she is and what she's doing as an artist," said Kelly, who also has written recent hits for Whitney Houston and Kelly Clarkson. "Then, she took it into the studio and just killed it."
Though "Party" is essentially an age-appropriate teenage anthem, Cyrus' performance of it on the Teen Choice Awards raised eyebrows as she danced around what some considered a stripper pole. Between that performance and a photo where some felt she was mocking Asians, Cyrus has run into some controversy, including being named Worst Celebrity Influence of 2009 in a poll of tweens and teens for AOL's JSYK.com last month, ahead of Britney Spears and Kanye West.
On her current tour, which stops at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday and Thursday, Cyrus hasn't shied away from pushing the envelope. She has, however, tried to step away from the spotlight slightly. Last month, she deleted her Twitter account, explaining later (via a YouTube rap), "I want my private life private."
WHAT CRITICS SAY
"It was abundantly clear Cyrus will try anything - anything! - to shake her Disneyfied past. And that's just what she did, bouncing from sleek, '80s-style power ballads to No Doubt-style ska to Southern-fried hip-hop." -Ross Raihala, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"In concert, she knows to surround herself with big set pieces and scenic bells and whistles designed to make her young female fans' eyes pop. And pop they did." -Kevin C. Johnson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Miley Cyrus: 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale. Tickets: $39.50-79.50; 631-888-9000, ticketmaster.com
The set list
Start All Over
Kickin' and Screamin'
Bottom of the Ocean
Fly on the Wall / Thriller
Let's Get Crazy
These Four Walls
When I Look at You
Girls Night Out
I Love Rock 'n' Roll
Party in the U.S.A.
See You Again