Lately, it seems like the young pop star has been acting controversial just for controversy’s sake, so to give her an hour onstage where she could do whatever she wanted sounded like a recipe for disaster.
And while the special did start off kind of iffy — there was a giant dancing horse and twerking and yes those two things did go together — Cyrus shone brightest in the middle of the hour, when she performed her slow ballads, stripped down to nothing but her voice and a few instruments to back her up. This is exactly what the “Unplugged” special is for: Showcasing an artist’s true talent, without all the extra, distracting aspects of a big concert.
But then Madonna walked onstage for no apparent reason and things got risqué again. We would have rather watched Cyrus do her thing on her own, but Madonna can’t stop hitching her wagon to other people’s careers these days.
Here are the 10 best, wackiest, and downright weirdest moments from “Miley Cyrus Unplugged:”
10. Cyrus walked onstage wearing a red and white checkered, skin-tight jumpsuit and a blonde bob wig. She kicked off the night with “4×4,” and twerked on a giant dancing horse:
9. “My wig’s about to fall off, I’m having too much fun up here,” Cyrus tells the crowd. “A lot can happen tonight, so I hope you guys are ready for that.” We certainly weren’t ready for this dancer’s cone bra/jumpsuit during “Do My Thang:”
8. Before she started singing “Do It Right,” Cyrus explained the inspiration for her western themed stage. “I tried to bring a little bit of Nashville here tonight,” Cyrus says. “When I say hoe, you say down … appropriately!”
Although we wouldn’t really call grinding on a horse (again) appropriate:
7. Before her next song “SMS (Bangerz),” Cyrus did a quick change and ditched the wig, showing off her new, Jennifer Lawrence style pixie cut. We’re digging the new look (and were impressed that Cyrus wore actual pants the entire night):
6. And then came the moment we’d all been waiting for, ever since the special was announced: Cyrus slowed things down and got emotional for her next three songs, “Adore You,” “Rooting For My Baby,” and “Drive.” They all sounded fantastic stripped down and performed live, with no flashy staging or any controversial dancing. It’s how the songs were clearly meant to be performed, and reminded us that underneath everything, this headline-grabbing star is an actual singer:
5. Cyrus then picked up the tempo to perform one of her favorite covers, “Jolene.” It’s always a joy to watch her sing the Dolly Parton classic because she clearly has so much fun doing it — she couldn’t stop smiling throughout the whole song — and it really shows off her incredible voice:
4. “This next song is pretty self-explanatory,” Cyrus says. “A little while ago I went on a ‘Wrecking Ball’ and I rode it naked.” Couldn’t have summed it up better ourselves:
3. And then things took a turn for the straight-up bizarre. We knew Madonna was going to join Cyrus for a duet, and we were dreading it. This was supposed to be Cyrus’ show! But for the final number, Madonna got up from her “hidden” spot in the audience:
2. … to join Cyrus in a mashup of “Don’t Tell Me” and “We Can’t Stop.” The performance wouldn’t have been so cringe-worthy if Madonna hadn’t started grinding on Cyrus:
1. But unfortunately, that’s what she did for most of the song:
“Miley Cyrus Unplugged” was a pleasant surprise overall, because Cyrus did take the opportunity to show us why she’s famous in the first place: Her voice. While we could have done without the twerking and the giant dancing horse and Madonna, we were impressed. Rock on, Miley.
What did you think of the special?