And that may turn out to be true. But Saturday it certainly didn't seem so as she sang her summer hit "We Can't Stop" with a force and clarity that suggested every word — and every choice — was hers, even (or especially) the dubious decision to hire a little person to wear a pair of denim cutoffs and serve as the latest of Cyrus' onstage spanking objects. One key line from the song: "Remember only God can judge us."
As strong as "We Can't Stop" was — at the iHeart Village she followed it with a rap-rock version of her old hit "Party in the U.S.A." — Cyrus was even better in "Wrecking Ball," the demolishing power ballad that just went to No. 1 on the Hot 100 thanks in large part to a music video in which she appears nude.
Saturday night she was (mostly) dressed but sang with a naked intensity that cut through all the speculation about her mental state, chatter she addressed directly in a left-field cover of a relatively obscure song from the early '70s by the folk singer Melanie.
"Look what they've done to my brain, Ma," Cyrus sang, her eyes projecting a steeliness nothing like the frenzied look we've grown accustomed to, "They picked it like a chicken bone, and they think I'm half-insane." As she delivered the words, fans at the MGM Grand drew restless, waiting impatiently for the next provocation. But Cyrus was already giving it to them.