Abbie on Aux: The resurgence of Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus poses wearing a yellow dress while standing on a road with grass and trees. She is framed by two drawn rectangles.
(Lucia Marquez-Uppman • The Student Life)

Miley Cyrus has always represented herself as a badass independent woman. Her latest single, “Flowers,” encapsulates all that Cyrus stands for and what her fans love so much about her: individuality. “Flowers” is the first peak into Cyrus’ newest body of work, “Endless Summer Vacation,” her eighth studio album. “Flowers” has captivated audiences and spread like wildfire through TikTok, breaking records and the internet. 

“Flowers” is an empowering anthem about becoming even more powerful and self-assured after a rough breakup. Many fans have speculated about the single being in direct response to her divorce from actor Liam Hemsworth in 2019, with lyrics like, “Built a home and watched it burn” in the first verse, referencing the couple’s Malibu home that burnt down in the 2018 Woolsey fires. While the song continues to garner more press and critical acclaim, I urge Cyrus fans and listeners to appreciate this new era of her career while it’s happening –– because we’ve gotten it wrong before. 

In March 2021, Cyrus departed from RCA Records and signed with Columbia Records. “Endless Summer Vacation” is her first album with a new label and team. Columbia’s reputation precedes itself with renowned artists like Harry Styles, Beyoncé and Adele. This switch marked a major shift in Cyrus’ music career and set her new era of success in motion. 

“Flowers” gives us a glimpse into Cyrus’ new collaborators from Columbia’s family; this single was produced by Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson, two of Styles’ closest collaborators whom Jaxsta just named the top producers of 2022. “Flowers” is only Cyrus’ second No. 1 single in the United States and has broken streaming records within its first day and weeks of its release. This stunning return after her 2020 rock album “Plastic Hearts” has revealed that Cyrus is back in the pop-sphere to stay –– and that her new era will dominate the charts as well as the internet. 

As a fan of Cyrus since her Hannah Montana days, I have witnessed her many eras and transformations. And her current one seems to be as fierce and dominant as ever. Over the years, Cyrus’ voice has changed drastically from when she was 13 singing Disney pop hits, to 20 with the  south-coast hip-hop sound of her album “Bangerz,” to the raspy tone of a 30-year-old. Cyrus’ rasp is rare among both female and male performers alike, and her unique sound sets her work apart from the crowd. Cyrus’ voice is not something you can replicate. As she sang in her 2007 song, it’s “One in a Million.”

In a time when Cyrus is being praised and celebrated for her creative genius, I find it necessary to reflect on the way the media and fans have treated her past music choices. On one fatal day in 2012, so many lives were forever changed when Cyrus cut her long locks off and got a platinum pixie cut. It sounds drastic for a haircut, but it was. This decision was plastered on the front of every media outlet, and many parents of Hannah Montana stans – mine included – were horrified. When her single “We Can’t Stop” came out in 2013 ahead of the release of “Bangerz,” Cyrus received an exceptional amount of backlash and hate for not being the teenager she was for Disney.

Looking back, fans can realize that they did not truly admire “We Can’t Stop” for its greatness at the time; it’s safe to say the song and its message has grown more popular among Gen Z fans as they’ve grown up with Cyrus, even becoming somewhat of a party anthem for a generation. 

Looking back, I experienced my own conflicting emotions about Cyrus’ rebrand as I absorbed the opinions of my parents, other adults and the negative press. Other young fans cultivated warped perceptions of how Cyrus was supposed to grow up at the time, being that her transformation was such a drastic and mature turnaround from her Hannah Montana days. 

While most did not fully appreciate “Bangerz” during its release, many music listeners certainly know its cultural impact today. In retrospect, that’s who Cyrus always was, outspoken and advantageous, but the world had not met the authentic Cyrus yet. True fans have had the privilege of watching her grow into the confident woman she is now. Sure, she’s made a few mistakes along the way, but she has established herself as a legendary live performer and an icon for a generation.

Suppose you’re anxiously awaiting the March 10th release of “Endless Summer Vacation,” as I am. In that case, I urge you to go back through Cyrus’ discography and discover a gem that hasn’t been appreciated as much as I’m sure her new work will be. For fans of Cyrus’ deep rasp and rock ‘n’ roll sound, 2020’s “Plastic Hearts” is an outstanding rock album which features notorious rock stars like Billy Idol and Joan Jett. If you love a good Cyrus breakup ballad, listen to 2019’s “Slide Away,” a stand-alone single which displays her gorgeous and somber vocals. If you want a more fierce and pumped-up tune from Cyrus, I recommend “Mother’s Daughter” off her 2019 EP “SHE IS COMING,” my go-to workout song. 

As the world ushers in the resurgence of Cyrus into the pop world and the charts, let’s not forget where she started and how much she has evolved as an artist. 2023 will be a year of prosperity for Cyrus, which she kicked off by hosting an epic New Year’s Eve special for NBC. With February fast approaching, we’re bound to get another single drop, and March is set to be the official month of Cyrus. Watch out world, Miley’s back!

Abbie Bobeck SC ’26 is from Washington, DC. She loves making playlists, pop culture and online shopping.

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