If you thought Miley Cyrus was going to commission trap-rap-style packaging for Bangerz, you were completely wrong. (Although I appreciate the impulse.) Last night Miley tweeted the cover to her album (due Oct. 8), and if anything, it seems inspired by the famous cover of Duran Duran’s Rio, which was made by the quintessential American artist Patrick Nagel. Meanwhile, she released the mega-ballad “Wrecking Ball,” which should have Katy Perry quaking in her boots.

First, the cover: As you can see above, it shows the title in neon and includes palm trees, which will make many people think of Miami Vice (the TV show) and the 1980s (even though there was a lot more to the ’80s than neon and palm trees … and Miami Vice). There’s no reason why Miley would want to evoke that decade—she was born in 1992, and as I alluded to above, recently she has taken inspiration from contemporary rap.

On the other hand, the choice makes perfect sense for an artist who has confounded expectations more than anyone else in recent memory. And like her hip hop obsession, it reveals a fundamentally strong aesthetic instinct—not entirely coherent, maybe, but also not overdetermined, and drawing from intriguing sources. (Also, it shows her butt. Although the deluxe edition does not.)

Now, the song: It’s a love ballad that has nothing to do with trap music or Patrick Nagel. The massive chorus sounds like a, shall we say, roar. And finally, it sure beats Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen.

What do you think? Is the cover too “cheesy” and “’80s,” or is it nice to see art you never could have predicted for an album that’s hugely anticipated? Does the song cement Miley’s status as a diva powerhouse, or just sound like a run-of-the-mill ballad?

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