It's not about the twerking.

Sure, that sexually provocative dance style is a piece of the puzzle -- as are the risqué TV appearances, daring outfits and all the other headline-generating antics that have helped make Miley Cyrus an equally fascinating and polarizing public figure.

It's also not about the smash singles and hit albums, although, one suspects, those are quite satisfying as well.

No, the No. 1 thing that drives this former child star -- who came to fame as the lead on Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" and has spent the past few years rushing to distance herself from that character -- is touring, she says.

"I make my albums to be able to travel and to be able to go on the road," the 21-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native says during a recent news teleconference. "That's really kind of what I love to do more than anything."

So it's no surprise that she's absolutely tickled about launching her Bangerz Tour, which touches down Monday at Oracle Arena in Oakland and Tuesday at SAP Center in San Jose.

It's Cyrus' fourth overall headlining trek and her first to cross the U.S. since 2009's Wonder World Tour. This time around, the stakes seem higher than ever. She is no longer trying to establish her own name, having already successfully distanced herself from "Hannah Montana," but rather trying to cement her place alongside Lady Gaga, Beyonce and the other true titans of the pop world.


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If she's feeling the pressure, Cyrus doesn't let on during the phone call. She sounded confident and calm, even while speaking a mile a minute. But she's reluctant to provide many details of what to expect from the show.

"I don't want to give any of my surprises away, because my tour has been kept such a secret -- and nothing in my life is ever a secret," Cyrus says before the tour opener in Vancouver, B.C., on Valentine's Day.

She did divulge, however, that the tour will be "fun." That's hardly a shocking revelation, yet it is one that Cyrus underscored by using the "fun" word a half-dozen times in less than two minutes during the interview. Fun, you see, is Cyrus' specialty.

"My goal was just to keep (the show) really fun," she says, even if this brand of fun continues to generate a staggering amount of headlines and tabloid buzz. "That's what I think I'm kind of representing more than anything in the past year -- fun and (being) carefree -- and that's what the show represents."

The curiosity factor is certainly huge for this tour. People are dying to see how -- or if -- Cyrus will try to top her 2013 exploits, which included lots of racy photos and videos and, of course, her infamous performance with Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards. Then, of course, there is the matter of the wardrobe -- which is always a hot topic when it comes to Cyrus. Again, the singer is tight-lipped on the subject.

"I hate giving too much stuff away, because I feel like clothes for me -- or lack thereof -- say a lot," she says.

Early reports of the tour suggest that Cyrus, as she would put it, "can't be tamed." The Huffington Post reported Wednesday that tour organizers have been inundated with angry calls and emails from parents over the show's racy content, including a simulated oral sex scene and other suggestive stage maneuvers.

Cyrus says the set list will focus on the "Bangerz" album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 back in October and thus far has delivered three blockbuster singles, "Wrecking Ball," "We Can't Stop" and "Adore You."

Expect plenty of high-energy dance-pop numbers, but also a share of slower tunes as well. She will be doing an acoustic set, which will mix "Bangerz" cuts and cover songs. One can only hope that will include her stunning version of Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," which showcases Cyrus' voice arguably better than anything else she's ever recorded.

"My set is about 90 minutes," she says. "But my acoustic set that I'm doing can go on for as long as I want -- so it really kind of depends on the city and how involved (the audience is in the acoustic set)."

Cyrus also wants to recognize and honor each particular city that she plays. That means not mistaking St. Paul for St. Louis, Miami for Milwaukee. (Let's hope that she sticks to that plan and doesn't yell out "Hello, San Francisco!" as she performs in San Jose or Oakland.) It's a strategy for making the locals feel special, which she learned a long time ago from one particular bald prog-rock icon.

"My first concert that I went to go to see, Phil Collins, had on a shirt that said Nashville on it," she says. "I was so stoked, because I was from Nashville. So he was in Nashville wearing that shirt. I always remembered that."

Cyrus also plans to mix it up in concert, in a fashion that is rare among today's pop stars, who tend to stick to a tight script onstage.

"Every show is going to be different," she says. "I don't want to rehearse too much when it comes to what we are going to do onstage, because I think that kind of takes all the fun out of it."

Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic, Facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.

Miley Cyrus

When & where: 7 p.m. Monday, Oracle Arena, Oakland; 7 p.m. Tuesday, SAP Center, San Jose
Tickets: $37.50-$89.50, www.ticketmaster