Everything started when Miley Cyrus was just 12 years old. She stepped into the spotlight through one of Gen Z’s and Millennial’s childhood shows, Hannah Montana. Although stardom had been a part of her life ever since she was born due to the singer Billy Ray Cyrus being her father, and Dolly Parton her godmother. With her long-awaited 8th studio album, ‘Endless Summer Vacation’, being released last week and seeing its success, one can only think about how much her career has evolved since her teenage pop star days.
Cyrus’ career has undergone many changes and more than a few controversies. Like many child stars, the American singer came out of Hannah Montana (2006-2011) wanting to break free from that teenage pop star image. In an episode of the podcast ‘Rock This with Allison Hagendorf’ back in 2021, Cyrus revealed that playing Hannah Montana gave her an “identity crisis”. She talked about how she felt unimportant unless she was playing the character. “The concept was that when I looked like myself, when I didn’t have the wig on anymore, that no one cared about me”, she explained in the podcast.
A new Miley Cyrus
Little by little that innocent Hannah Montana image started fading into a more mature and adult version. After the series wrapped its final season, Miley Cyrus released her third album in 2010 ‘Can’t Be Tamed’, where she started to prove she wasn’t just that impeccable child pop star. The album brought out Cyrus’ more scandalous, and sensual side which the world hadn’t seen yet, so it came as a shock to many.
The controversies continued over the years because of the ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ singer’s relationship with drugs and alcohol. In an interview in 2021 for the cover story of Rolling Stone, Cyrus opened up about her experience and how she struggled to get sober. “One of the reasons I got sober was I had just turned 26, and I said, ‘I got to pull myself together before I’m 27, because 27 is the time you cross over that threshold into living or dying a legend”, she said, recalling the 27 club, the age when artists like Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and others died after battling addiction.
Miley and the media
Addiction isn’t the only thing the star has struggled with. Miley Cyrus has commented in various occasions how the media fixated on her physical image, and how people determined her mental state according to her appearance at the moment. “When my hair was long and blonde it meant I was sane right now, but when I dyed or cut my hair or was growing out my armpit hair it meant I was going through something”, Miley explained in a Rolling Stone interview in December 2020.
‘Younger Now’ (2017) was the album that changed the trajectory of her music with a more reflective and introspective tone. There was a big contrast between the sound of her 6th studio album and the 7th, ‘Plastic Hearts’, in which Cyrus tapped into more Rock sounds, and some Synth-pop. She started to show a more vulnerable side of her through her songwriting, especially with songs like ‘Angels Like You’.
Miley Cyrus’ relationship with addiction and the media weren’t the only relationships of her life that have had an impact on her music. Her romantic partners have also had their influence. She met Liam Hemsworth during filming of her movie debut, ‘The Last Song’. They were on and off, and finally got married in 2018. However, in 2020 the couple announced their divorce. Cyrus’ lead single ‘Flowers’ is rumored to be about her relationship with Hemsworth.
‘Flowers’ rushed to the top of the charts during the first week of its release. After its debut in January, it stayed as number 1 in the Billboard chart during six weeks, and for the last two weeks it has occupied the second slot. The U.S. singer broke her own record from her previous hit ‘Wrecking Ball’, which stayed at number #1 during three weeks on Billboard Hot 100. ‘Flowers’ is Cyrus’ longest-leading hit song until now.
What the critics are saying
It’s no surprise that ‘Endless Summer Vacation’, which many are referring to as a culmination of Cyrus’ journey as an artist, has had clear success worldwide in just a week after its release. According to the entertainment website ‘That Grape Juice’, only 30 minutes after the album came out in the U.S., it was already at the top of iTunes real-time sales charts. The album, which features guest appearances from Sia, and Brandi Carlile, has been reviewed by Metacritic with a Metascore of 78 out of 100 and a user score of 8.1.
After its success in all platforms and music radio stations, ‘Endless Summer Vacation’ has been reviewed by critics from different papers and magazines. According to Craig Jenkins from ‘Vulture’, “Miley’s idyllic Summer is a latticework of vibrant sensory information, breezes blowing on L.A. palm trees, loud colors, and warbling flange and chorus effects on bright guitar and synthesizer notes”. Brittany Spanos from Rolling Stone also shared her views on Cyrus’ 8th album, saying it’s the singer’s “sharpest, most independent album yet and a powerful artistic statement focused and clear-eyed as Cyrus seems to have found herself in her thirties”.
After almost 20 years in the music industry, and almost her entire life under the spotlight, Miley Cyrus is living proof that life takes many turns, and one can end up somewhere completely different from where they started, and that is not always necessarily a bad thing.