Miley Cyrus' newest single "Wrecking Ball" is a break-up ballad that seems to consciously pull back from the tongue-in-your-face New Miley-ness of "We Can't Stop." If offering up a human portrayal of Cyrus to cut back against the caricature she has assumed with her rebooted image was indeed the goal, the song does a rather admirable job: Written and produced by Dr. Luke and frequent sidekick Cirkut, it works as a Hillary Duff-era Disney-pop torch song updated for kids salivating for crushing bass drops.
The video — directed by the famed photographer Terry Richardson — is similarly stripped down, at least initially. The video opens a heavy-handed shot of Cyrus' face shows a single tear falling from her right eye before focusing on a scene in which she takes a sledgehammer to a three-walled cinder block room. But Cryrus is still very eager to intentionally provoke: She tongues both the sledgehammer and a chain attached to a wrecking ball, which she also rides nude. It's all rather tasteful if a bit incongruous — or maybe Cyrus' full nudity is her finally emerging from the effects of a relationship that, as she sings, only broke her down.
In any event, "Wrecking Ball" clocks in at No. 14 on the Hot 100 this week and is rising, so we'll all have plenty of time to ponder it. Her new album Bangerz is out October 8. She'll serve as Saturday Night Live's host and musical guest (for the second time) on October 5 (via AP).