Oftentimes, when artists reinvent themselves, there’s a slow buildup. Miley Cyrus followed a similar route but, in a shocking turn of events, became a fully-fledged controversy stirrer in 2013. After adopting a more mature image by her third album, Can’t Be Tamed, it was her fourth album, Bangerz, that shattered any ties to her teen-pop roots. With multiple albums under her belt, Miley Cyrus is one of the most recognizable musicians of her generation, but none of her projects have matched the commercial success of Bangerz.
The lead-up to Cyrus’ fourth album was a defining moment in pop culture. After some time off to focus on acting, she quickly returned to music and signed with RCA Records. While her previous albums were predominantly pop, Miley Cyrus began to lean into R&B territory. It was this genre merger that resulted in Bangerz. Following two polarizing music videos and a raunchy MTV Video Music Awards performance, interest in the album was at an all-time high. It’s no wonder why Bangerz is the best-selling album in her repertoire.
Bangerz: A Miley Cyrus Event
Miley Cyrus was no stranger to releasing successful albums by the time Bangerz was released. Whether through her teen pop persona, Hannah Montana, or as herself, she was already a commercial titan. However, Bangerz ushered in an even greater success for her. The album achieved first-week sales of 270,000 copies, which was an impressive feat.
Since then, the album has sold over three million units in the U.S. This has led to a 3x Platinum certification by the RIAA. However, it’s important to note that this certification happened as far back as June 2018. Furthermore, the album was a moderate success in the U.K., where it’s been certified Gold for unit sales of over 100,000. Likewise, it’s most likely that the album has achieved higher sales, as its last certification date was in December 2013. This means that, in just two and a half months of its release in the UK, Bangerz sold over 100,000 copies.
Bangerz also performed very well in Norway, selling 80,000 copies and achieving a 4x Platinum. It has earned 2x and 3x Platinum certifications in Canada and Brazil, for sales of over 160,000 and 120,000 units, respectively. Moreover, in Australia, Denmark, Poland, and Sweden, Bangerz accumulated Platinum certifications. The respective units sold in these countries are: 70,000, 20,000, 20,000, and 40,000. In summary, of all her albums, this one awarded Miley Cyrus the most certifications around the globe.
A Controversial Pivot
While Miley Cyrus had already begun to adopt a sexier, more mature image, Bangerz took things even further, becoming one of the most discussed albums of 2013. With the release of the LP’s lead single, “We Can’t Stop,” the former teen idol effectively shed her former skin. Particularly, the track’s music video depicted a highly provocative side to Cyrus. The video took place at a house party, where Cyrus twerked with friends and behaved rather suggestively. Unsurprisingly, the polarizing video has almost raked up a billion views on YouTube.
At the 2013 VMAs, Miley Cyrus became one of the most searched names on Google. Her raunchy and suggestive dancing and behavior, which included twerking on Robin Thicke, became media gold. Furthermore, following the release of the music video for “Wrecking Ball,” which depicted a naked Miley Cyrus, her good-girl image was completely gone. In essence, a newer, more adult pop star had replaced the former teen sensation.
Overall, Bangerz was a pop-R&B hybrid that successfully reinvented Cyrus’ artistry. The album was primarily produced by Mike Will Made It and debuted atop the Billboard 200 chart. The music was also met with positive reviews, who praised the singer’s more evolved sound. However, the controversies around Bangerz made it one of the most memorable albums of the 2010s and the best-selling album in Miley Cyrus’s career.