Miley Cyrus’ ascent in 2013 has been a surreal experience to witness — but none of it was an accident. In “Miley Cyrus: The Movement,” a new hour-long MTV documentary premiering on Wednesday night (Oct. 2), the pop star’s bold steps toward “Bangerz” are captured in full, as the unshakeable vision of her return from 2010’s disappointing “Can’t Be Tamed” is translated to the selection of “We Can’t Stop” as a comeback single, the hip-hop-centric collaborators on her new album, and her audacious performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in August. Throughout the documentary, Cyrus makes sure to stress that the presentation of her new image is more than just a promotional detail. “To me, a movement is bigger than just a record,” says Cyrus. “For me, a movement represents something like… taking over the world.”
Before Cyrus takes over your TV screens on Wednesday night, check out 10 tidbits to watch for in “Miley Cyrus: The Movement,” which Billboard got a sneak peek of last week.
1. Miley’s Momentary Doubting of “We Can’t Stop.” The first portion of the documentary focuses on the launch of “We Can’t Stop” as the first single from “Bangerz,” and although Cyrus projects enormous confidence over the single selection, she does have a moment of doubt when the song debuts a little low on the iTunes Chart. She then has this conversation with producer/BFF Mike WiLL Made It:
Miley: “Did we make the right decision?”
Mike: “Everybody’s saying the shit is crazy.”
Miley: “Yeah… It is crazy.”
And Miley’s nerves were subsequently calmed, and the rest, as they say, is history.
2. Miley’s Britney Meet-Up. The recording of the Miley/Britney Spears duet “SMS (Bangerz)” is documented and is as fascinating as one might expect. After Spears is shown recording her portion of the track (sample line: “Catwalk! Slick talk!”), the two pop singers from two very different generations are shown awkwardly chatting about Cyrus’ then-upcoming VMAs performance. “You’re not gonna be topless on stage, right?” Spears asks nervously. “I tried!” Cyrus responds to her idol, shaking her head with disappointment that MTV’s producers wouldn’t even let her use “nude latex.” Ah, the trials and tribulations of button-pushing pop queens.
3. The Lack of Billy Ray… and Liam. While “Miley Cyrus: The Movement” includes video interviews with her mom, Tish Cyrus, and with artists like Pharrell Williams, her father Billy Ray Cyrus is noticeably absent from the project, as is any mention of her ex-fiancee, Liam Hemsworth. According to executive producer Dave Sirulnick, the elder Cyrus simply wasn’t around while the documentary was being filmed earlier this year. As for Hemsworth’s name never being mentioned onscreen: “We were not doing a documentary about anything in her personal life,” says Sirulnick of Cyrus.
4. The VMAs Play-By-Play.
Inspired by the salacious divas before her, Cyrus gleefully understood that her twerk-happy performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards was going to cause people to chatter about her long after the Barclays Center show had wrapped. “You could have watched that performance at the VMAs and think it was a hot mess, but it was a strategic hot mess,” says Cyrus emphatically, pointing to the Madonna-Britney lip lock at the 2003 ceremony. “Madonna’s done it, Britney’s done it… you might as well make [people] talk for two weeks instead of two seconds.”
5. Pharrell’s Words of Encouragement. One of the more interesting passages in “The Movement” involves the super-producer serving as something of a mentor for Cyrus as she underwent her “Bangerz” transformation. Pharrell is the one Cyrus called when she needed encouragement about chopping off her long locks, and Pharrell is the one who best understands Miley’s recent behavior. “Her dad is Billy Ray Cyrus, her godmother is Dolly Parton, and she grew up in the era when kids listen to hip-hop,” Williams explains. “People ask, ‘Why is she twerking? Why is she doing this? Because she’s a byproduct of America.”
6. Miley Talks To Her Dogs. The real secret to Miley’s success? Perhaps her ability to pull a Dr. Dolittle and successfully tell her dogs to calm down. We can only hope that “Bangerz” makes a lyrical reference to this special skill.
7. The End of Miley’s Film Career. It’s a minor detail in “The Movement,” but a surprising one nonetheless: Cyrus, succinctly put, is done making movies for the foreseeable future. “I made one movie, and I never wanted to do it again,” Cyrus declares, referencing her little-seen 2012 project “LOL.” “I want to make music for the rest of my life.”
8. Tish Cyrus Says The Name “Juicy J,” and It’s Everything You Could Hope For. Watching Miley’s mom discuss the collaborators on “Bangerz” is a real treat, and when her Southern accent carefully tiptoes across the Three 6 Mafia member’s name, one can imagine Tish and Juicy running into each other at a recording studio and engaging in a vigorous high-five.
9. Miley’s Pre-VMAs Breakdown. The only instance of “drama” in the MTV documentary occurs when Miley’s car pulls up to the red carpet at the Video Music Awards and she doesn’t quite get the grand entrance she wanted. There’s a hesitation over stepping out of the car at the incorrect entry point, and when others suggests backing the car up, the 20-year-old loses it. “Are you fucking kidding?” rages Cyrus. “I’m not gonna back the fuck up and start over!” Tish doesn’t know what to do; Miley doesn’t know what to do. The music swells. Nails are bitten. Does Miley make it out of this predicament successfully? No spoilers here, folks.
10. Miley’s Attitude Toward Her “Hannah Montana” Days. When Miley unveils “We Can’t Stop” on Ryan Seacrest’s syndicated radio show, the studio is surrounded by diehard Miley fans, likely all “Hannah Montana” lifers. To her credit, Cyrus understands that teenage fandom — “The way that I am about Britney, that’s how a lot of people are for me,” she says — and tries to bring along her longtime fans for the “Bangerz” ride while executing her own vision of her career, after years of obeying to a Disney persona. “It has to be fully me and all my creative vision behind it,” says Cyrus, “or else, I don’t want to do it.”