You may or may not have flipped through channels Sunday night and noticed Miley Cyrus sliding down a giant tongue coming out of a replica of her face on a huge screen. If so, don’t worry — that was just “Miley Cyrus: Bangerz Tour,” a two-hour special that aired on NBC featuring lots of footage from the controversial pop star’s recent concerts in Spain and Portugal.
Just one question: Why, exactly, did this special air? Cyrus still has nearly two dozen dates left on the “Bangerz” tour, which continues in New York next month. Unless she’s planning on completely changing the set list and theatrics that she’s used nearly every night so far, why spoil things ahead of time? Lots of concert video makes it to YouTube, but still, most artists don’t want to broadcast it all over a major TV network.
Either way, we have some theories about why the special actually aired.
1) She needs to boost ticket sales.
On one hand, once you’ve seen Cyrus ride an inflatable hot dog through an arena and yell “Mr. Weiner loves y’all!” you don’t really need to witness it again. On the other, there’s nothing like seeing that spectacle in person. There’s been a raging debate about whether ticket sales are disappointing (multiple reports say yes; concert promoter Live Nation says no), thanks to all of Cyrus’s antics over the past year.
Still, the special was essentially a two-hour commercial urging people to check out her tour. It featured nearly every song from the concert, including the “Bangerz” album cuts (“Love Money Party,” “Adore You,” “Do My Thang”) to biggest hits (“Wrecking Ball,” “We Can’t Stop” and “Party in the U.S.A.”)
2) Damage control.
Ever since Cyrus twerked her way to infamy at the VMAs last summer, there have been charges about the way she (a) appropriates black culture in her show and (b) treats her costumed back-up dancers, including little people. One woman who danced in her set at the VMAs said the job made her feel “feel less than human.”
So it wasn’t too surprising that the special included several people in her stage crew gushing about how amazing Cyrus is as a person and a boss, and how she values acceptance and diversity. “I am completely in love with Miley Cyrus,” explained one of her dancers. “I am literally her biggest fan. … We’re her army.”
“I like the fact that everyone is different here,” remarked another. “You don’t have to look a certain way or act a certain way to be accepted.”
3) Prove to parents — scandalized by the tour — that there’s really nothing to worry about.
While reports of a few outraged parents would never affect the outcome of a major tour, this special certainly focused on the “Miley is just an everyday gal” side of her personality, just in case mom and dad are thinking twice about taking their kids to see the show. Though the concert scenes had the Cyrus staples — fake dancing animals, twerking, tongue sticking out, sparkly barely-there costumes, a mildly terrifying opening number — the “behind-the-scenes” footage showed Cyrus as a “regular” person.
When the special wasn’t showing the tour, it featured Cyrus and her siblings in a hotel room before a show. They sang a Dolly Parton cover in the bathroom, giggled a lot, and just hung out like any other family. Other than that, most of the home-movie footage showed Cyrus in bed talking about how she just wants to be herself and help her fans discover their true selves. That’s why she installed a Kiss Cam during the show — because no one should ever be self-conscious making out with anyone. (Okay, maybe parents won’t love that.)
4) Help explain why she postponed multiple tour dates this spring.
Cyrus wound up rescheduling multiple concerts this year after a trying few days — first, her dog Floyd died, and then she was hospitalized due to an allergic reaction to medication.
She went into detail during several behind-the-scenes takes about just how much it all affected her, and she explained that she felt like a “shell” on stage every night while grieving Floyd’s death. Though she said she’s still in denial that he’s gone, a huge inflatable version of Floyd appears on stage during “Can’t Be Tamed”; Cyrus admitted it makes her feel better to see him.
On the less interesting but still important business side of things: Cyrus has a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group. As it happens, the company licenses music to NBC.