It was 2012 when former Disney star Miley Cyrus ‘went bad’ by cutting her hair short and bleaching it. Her dancing turned to twerking, and her outfits became skimpier. By showcasing this new ‘wild’ and relatively more mature version of herself, Miley managed to regain control of her public image and finally distance herself from her Disney persona.
Comment sections filled up with ‘I miss the old Miley’, but the old Miley Cyrus had never left, and she had got what she’d wanted.
Every eye was on Miley, and Miley did not disappoint.
Bangerz came out a year later, garnering attention from both critics and audiences alike– especially because of the controversies created by the music videos for We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball.
The sound of Bangerz was mostly retro-pop and R&B. And bangers, they were. The album had several features, including Britney Spears, Ludacris and French Montana. Her producer, Mike Will Made-It, was credited several times throughout the album, gaining recognition in a time when producers were mostly invisible. Tyler the Creator was also a part of the creation process.
Miley declared that she wanted Bangerz to be treated as her debut album, due to feeling a disconnect from her previous records under Disney.
In the years that followed, the album was deemed a pop classic, paving the way for several other artists to come.
Bangerz was followed by Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz, an experimental, psychedelic album that was released for free worldwide.
Music was not all that Miley was working on, though.
Just a few months before the release of Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz, Miley founded the Happy Hippie Foundation, a non-profit organization focusing on injustices faced by homeless youth and the LGBTQA+ community. It was also around this time that Miley herself came out as pansexual and genderfluid, emphasizing that her relationship with Liam did not cancel out her queerness.
Miley is not all good, though– like any other celebrity, she has had her fair share of controversies.
From being criticized for how she dresses and called out for popularizing twerking, to being deemed problematic for abandoning her hip hop roots in 2017 and condemned for wearing dreadlocks– it is safe to say that Miley has learnt and grown a lot since she first appeared on Hannah Montana at the age of 13.
And while her image has been something of a mess with the general public since 2012, her determination to change the world and also live life on her own terms is clear to anyone who is watching her closely.
In the 2016 USA Presidential Elections, this determination to change the world led Miley to endorse Bernie Sanders as her candidate of choice. When this failed, she stood firmly by Hilary Clinton. She expressed her disappointment at the Hilary Clinton loss in the elections, and in turn, transformed back to a more conservative image to appeal to the masses of the United States. Then, it seemed to work. People were happy, people were proud, Miley had found her way back home again.
The following year, Miley returned to country music, and the album Younger Now followed. Essentially the opposite of Bangerz– all peace and love and happiness– Younger Now did not receive as much attention as anticipated– nor was the attention it received necessarily pleasant.
Many called it forgettable with lyrics that barely skimmed the surface of her potential. Others thought it was her least honest album, and not a sound that suited her.
Evidently, Younger Now had missed the mark, but Miley didn’t seem to care– she had already begun working on her following album by the time it was out, and Younger Now was a thing of the past.
What definitely did not miss the mark was (pun intended), Miley’s single with Mark. In 2018, Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus collaborated on the song Nothing Breaks Like A Heart, co-written by Miley herself.
While the teasers for the song sounded underwhelming and almost not worth the hype, the song itself turned out to be a collaboration created in heaven.
From the dark, almost haunting music and imagery, to the lyrics and the beats, and Miley’s voice– it was all perfect, and it seemed like Miley Cyrus had finally found her sound, somewhere between Bangerz and Younger Now.
Enter, then, ‘She is Coming EP’ which almost feels like an extension of Nothing Breaks Like A Heart.
She is Coming came out less than a year ago, in May, 2019. For this, Miley was back with her Bangerz collaborator, Mike Will Made It, making it strikingly clear that they bring out the best in each other.
Critically acclaimed as it was, the EP failed to receive as much attention as it deserves for being– to put it mildly– another pop masterpiece.
Consisting of six songs, She is Coming is one of three six-song EPs that will, together, make Miley’s next album, that she has already finished working on.
The two EPs that will follow are ‘She is Here’ and ‘She is Everything’. Miley’s album, she has announced, will be called ‘She is Miley Cyrus’.
With She is Coming, Miley Cyrus has not only found her sound, but is also using it to unleash her full potential. Not being able to skip a single song out of six must mean something.
The EP opens with Mother’s Daughter, a catchy anthem about the power she holds, which was also released as her first promotional single. With lyrics like “I’m nasty, I’m evil– must be something in the water, or that I’m my mother’s daughter”, it is impossible to not feel like you can take over the world as you listen to this song. It is strong, direct and unabashedly political.
Following this song, is Unholy– a relatively sober and quiet song that talks about drinking and drugs and being unapologetically yourself, but in a different, unexpected way.
“I’m a little bit unholy. So what? So’s everyone else,” Miley sings in the chorus, talking about how she’s tired of being judged repeatedly and called obscene and fake for something that so many others seem to do. Unholy is far from a party anthem– in fact, it is the exact opposite.
The next song is on a similar note.
D.R.E.A.M or Drugs Rule Everything Around Me talks about her relationship with parties and drugs, in the background of her relationship with her partner.
There is something heartfelt about the way she sings, “And you know we’re gonna be alright.”
It’s almost reassuring, a comfort to hear. The outro, by rapper Ghostface Killah, is a little less gentle, and transitions perfectly into the next song, Cattitude.
Cattitude, the fourth song on the EP, has a surprising feature: famous drag queen RuPaul.
Clearly inspired by trap elements, the song seems to be a nod to sexual empowerment of women, and a bop that leaves you dancing, even if you don’t usually dance at all.
Unfortunately, none of the lyrics from this song are quotable when your parents are in the same room as you, or when your parents are reading the article that you wrote about Miley Cyrus’s EP.
To quote a user on Genuis, though, “I did not know how much twerk my body needed before this song.”
Party Up The Street is my personal favourite off the She Is Coming EP. With the same slightly dark vibes as Nothing Breaks Like A Heart, it is another reminder that Miley Cyrus knows what she is doing.
A collaboration with Swae Lee and Mike Will Made It, Miley’s voice is not heard in this song until the very first chorus, at which point, it blends in so perfectly with the music that it leaves you awestruck.
The song talks about (surprise, surprise) a party, with a mood that matches that of a high school kid in a small town. There is something determined about the song, with “We didn’t come this close for nothing, we didn’t come this far for nothing” being the words that I can never get out of my head.
The last song, The Most, is arguably the most personal song Miley has ever written, most likely about her (now ex) husband Liam Hemsworth.
It is a return to the sober, almost wistful lyrics of Unholy. In this song, Miley questions why she hurts her partner so much, wondering if it’s because she knows that he loves her the most.
The song leaves behind some sorrow as it fades away, especially knowing now that Miley and Liam’s ten year-long relationship is over for good.
Even then, it is so genuine and honest that it almost immortalizes their love for what it was.
What’s most surprising about the She is Coming EP is how well all these songs– ranging from topics like love to feminism, from fast-paced anthems to slow melodies– fit together at all, especially so beautifully.
In fact, if this was someone else’s album, I doubt it would have happened at all. Miley might just be the only one who can manage to pull this off.
She is Coming is a mix of all of Miley’s previous music, and considering that there is an album dropping soon, it only seems to be the beginning.
Later that year, Miley also released Slide Away, which while having very similar production and the same finesse as the She is Coming EP, was also a departure from the heart-warming love songs from it. Instead, it was a break-up song, the sad acceptance of the end of a relationship, and a very good one, at that.
In conclusion, whether or not you like Miley Cyrus as a person, she has proven herself to be an extremely serious and talented artist, who knows what they are doing.
From switching her persona for Bangerz and making Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz a non-commercial album, to finding her sound with She Is Coming, every musical move she makes is extremely well thought-out and filled with passion.
Not only is Miley a powerful queer woman, she is also unafraid to take risks and experiment with her music to grow as an artist, and She is Coming only confirms this.
It is almost unbearable to wait for what comes next, and I know it will all be worth it in the end, once we get to see where she goes from here.