Something that has kinda buggged me about the recent crapstrom surrounding Miley Cyrus...
Many people, most of whom have probably never listened to anything she's done; are saying that she's another no-talent pop "starlet" who can't sing.
That's not actually true.
Whatever else you can say about her... and yeah, her recent behavior isn't exactly wonderful, but it's doing exactly what she wants it to... Make her a HELL of a lot of money... She CAN sing.
Here she is doing her hit single "Wrecking Ball" live on SNL, arranged as an 80s style power ballad... and frankly, it kicks ass:
I've never cared for her music, but I recognize when a performer is good and I just don't care for them, vs. when a performer isn't good.
I'm not saying she's a spectacular singer... but she has decent vocal range (not used much in her singles, but it's there), expression, timbre, and intonation.
She is a little too fond of melisma, but that's very common with female pop vocalists; and she often chooses a somewhat nasal expression, but again that's a choice (one I don't care for, but she CAN sing without it... it's just part of her general style, as is "talk singing". Her speaking voice is somewhat tight and nasal, with the tongue against the soft palate, and that transfers over).
Listen to this A Capella version of her other current major hit single, with "the Roots" (who by the way are still great, and always have been) on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon":
Most importantly, she can sing her songs, in tune, without autotune, which is unfortunately rather rare among pop acts these days.
Now... if you want an example of a pop singer who IS an amazing singer (but whose music is mostly not good), Christina Aguilera.
Or Pink (who is recently billing herself by her full name Alecia Moore), who can sing (though not as well as Christina), and whose pop music I think is actually GOOD.
...Or for that matter, Lady Gaga, who can both sing and play piano quite well, and much of her music is quite good (the stuff that isn't explicitly meant to be performance art).
For an example of a big young female pop "singer" who can't sing whatsoever... Oh, how about Kesha.
...Smart girl though, literally... it's reported her IQ is something like 160, and she turned down early graduation and college scholarships to drop out of school and take a GED, so she could become a full time song writer; which she did very successfully, before ever recording anything. As of now, she's making a great deal of money on the image she has decided to portray.
Oh and while she can't sing... she's actually a pretty decent musician (she can play piano, saxaphone, guitar, and drums).
Oh and the thread between all these women?
Their really awful but very commercially successful music? Much of it is produced, and often written by, the same producer and production team, "Dr. Luke".
The music industry hasn't really changed much from the 1950's and 60's "hit factory" days really... It's still oriented at selling hit singles to teenage girls, and it's still really the producers who are in charge. It's just that the producers own their own production companies now, instead of the record companies controlling everything.