Madonna joined Miley Cyrus for a mash-up of “Don’t Tell Me” and “We Can’t Stop” at Cyrus’ barn dance-themed “Unplugged” show that will air on MTV tonight (Jan. 29) at 9 p.m.
Cyrus embraced her Nashville roots for the special, giving a countrified twist to “Bangerz” material such as “4 x 4,” “Do My Thing” and “#Getitright” and covering Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”
“We’re trying to bring Nashville here and get people in the country spirit,” Cyrus said on sound stage at Sunset Gower Studios on Tuesday evening. The turnaround of the show in less than 24 hours is the fastest MTV has done in the history of the “Unplugged” franchise.
“It’s been a dream to go live globally, but with the addition of a guest (Madonna), we decided to do a quick turnaround,” MTV Networks Music and Logo Group president Van Tofler told Billboard.
He said MTV is focused on the premiere Wednesday night at 9pm and that down the road they will consider releasing a longer version and will put interview footage and extras online at MTV.com.
Cyrus designed the set of wagon wheels and bales of hay and added a dancing horse to her seven-piece band — yes, she twerks with it. She selected the songs as well. The goal, Cyrus’ manager Larry Rudolph told Billboard, was to “break down these songs to their bare essentials so you can hear her singing them without a lot of production.”
The hour-long show is designed to whet her audience’s appetite prior to her embarking on her tour in a few weeks. “Unplugged” allowed her to “countrify” her music and “let people know she can sing,” Rudolph says.
Adds Tofler, “We’ve got a wonderful, messy, windy history with her and this is just another notch that, with acoustic instruments, she can really sing and play. Miley’s follows the lineage of Madonna, Britney and Gaga and where these stars live at a certain level. We mix the visuals, the pageantry and some combustible moments — it’s sort of like throwing rocket fuel on their careers.”
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The Cyrus concert will be first “Unplugged” show aired on MTV since Florence + the Machine’s December 2012 appearance.
In a statement provided exclusively to Billboard, Cyrus said: “In 2013, MTV changed the M to stand for Miley. They’ve been a huge supporter of mine, allowing me to push boundaries and find new ways to connect with my fans.”