I thought I'd had enough of Miley Cyrus’ twerking, nipple pasties, tongue wagging, and utter disregard for human decency. Then I came across this YouTube video and had to rethink my feelings. Last night, the 20-year-old singer performed an a cappella version of "We Can’t Stop" with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Instead of nudity, foam fingers, and dancing animals, the a cappella version is set up Brady Bunch-style, with nine boxes featuring the various singers. She's in the center. Stripped from hype, hyper production, and hyper sexuality, the video presents a fun version of the song that we can simply enjoy and laugh with rather than at.
According to the New York Daily News, Miley Cyrus thought it was important for her to show people that she doesn’t "just twerk and lick stuff." When examined closely, the video itself can be seen as a satire of her own behavior. The awkward looks exchanged between her and Jimmy Fallon when she sings about girls with big butts and her tongue-wag at the end read as playful and self-aware rather than unhinged.
It seems that if pop artists want to either tone down or redeem their image, performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon may be the best avenue for doing so. The comedian has a reputation for getting singers to perform their songs in new, silly ways such as using classroom instruments like triangles and xylophones. These performances return simple fun to pop songs that have been put through marketing machines. This video reminds us of something that we have all forgotten since her Hannah Montana days — Miley Cyrus can actually sing! But the performance may also be a way to temporarily redeem her image and gain more respect before she returns to her usual antics. Even worse, it may simply be the next step in a terrifyingly effective marketing campaign for her new album. What does everyone else think?