These days, it seems like there's never a time when Miley Cyrus isn't relevant. From her early Hannah Montana days to her comeback in the early 2010s and current forays into New Year's Eve hosting and pop-rock experimentation, she's always graced the public eye with her gifts. In a way, you can say she was born for it. She's the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, after all. She even has an equally-talented sister, Noah Cyrus. Performing is in her family's blood.
Miley's been extra prominent in the media recently (March 2022), not only because of the scary emergency landing of a plane she was on, but also because her first live album is coming out real soon. Attention: Miley Live will feature 20 hit tracks from the artist - all fan favorites in one way or another.
Peeping the tracklist of the forthcoming record has us thinking about our favorite Miley songs of all time. She's been consistent in her career for over 10 years, so there's plenty of bops to choose from. For this special Top 10 list of Miley Cyrus songs, we're taking a look at Miley's original tunes - so that means no Hannah Montana-associated numbers or covers of other songs. (We're so sorry "Jolene," you know we love you.)
Without further ado, let's start counting down!
10. "Slide Away"
"Slide Away" was Miley Cyrus' first song since “On A Roll,” which was released on June 5, 2019. It's a standalone single, not present on any of Cyrus' albums. It's also about her split from Liam Hemsworth, who she was married to for 7 months following an on-and-off again relationship.
While this song did okay commercially (it charted at number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100), it's remained a fan favorite due to its vulnerable lyrics, as well as music production that feels melancholy yet never gets too down in the dumps. Miley's vocals and the accompanying beat emphasize the feeling that, while the situation is tragic, she feels comfortable moving on. Nothing ever gets too sentimental, and that feels like a healthy step for Cyrus.
In essence, "Slide Away" is all about maturity. On the track, Cyrus proves she's not the little girl she used to be. And that's an exciting thing.
9. "Plastic Hearts"
From her 2020 album of the same same, "Plastic Hearts" sees Cyrus embracing a pastiche of different sounds. We love the opening congo drum (a reference to the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For the Devil"), winding piano keys, epic beat drops, and of course, Miley's switch from sweet to gruff vocals between each verse and chorus.
"Plastic Hearts" is the poster child of Cyrus' 80s rocker era, and we're totally here for it. As for "Plastic Heart's" message, this song is about the toxicity of the elite California celebrity scene. Y'know: that Chateau Marmont kind of stuff.
It's implied Cyrus immersed herself in this culture following her breakup with Liam Hemsworth, singing the lyrics, "Frightened by my own reflection / Desperate for a new connection / Pull you in, but don't you get too close / Love you now, but not tomorrow." You can hear the opulence on "Plastic Hearts," but also Miley's insecurities and loneliness.
8. "Mother's Daughter"
"Mother's Daughter" is an electronic romp all about female empowerment, sexual liberation, and embracing your roots. It's the only single from SHE IS COMING, a six-song EP that was to be the first of three EPs that would form a full-length record - a project that was ultimately scrapped.
Nonetheless, this catchy track was written by Cyrus with the help of her friend Andrew Wyatt and pop singer ALMA. It’s a strong and direct statement of Cyrus’s political commitment to women's rights and LGBTQ+ movements, as well as her evolution and growth as an artist and a woman.
While we think people slept on Miley's EP, we're happy to see "Mother's Daughter" performed fairly well on the charts. During the week ending June 15, 2019, “Mother’s Daughter” debuted and peaked at #54 on the Hot 100.
Ah, "Malibu." Something about this song feels like comfy cozy poetry. With strong imagery, pretty vocals, and relaxing electric guitar, "Malibu" is more refreshing than crisp ocean water. It's also got a fun edge to it with its buildup of percussion. A great song to play on the beach, for sure!
Released in 2017, this song is about Miley getting back together with Liam Hemsworth after their 2013 breakup. In a May 3, 2017 interview with Billboard, Miley said about the breakup: "I needed to change so much. And changing with someone else not changing like that is too hard. Suddenly you’re like, ‘I don’t recognize you anymore.’ We had to refall for each other."
We're sad Miley and Liam's relationship didn't last after a second try, but we're glad Cyrus was able to channel the good times into this absolutely gorgeous track. Excuse us while we grab some tissues while listening to this for the millionth time.
6. "See You Again"
Ready for some old-school Miley Cyrus picks? The first of our nostalgic Cyrus tracks, "See You Again" is the debut single from Miley Cyrus from her debut studio album, Meet Miley Cyrus. This classic song managed to peak at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
If you've ever had "See You Again" play during a karaoke session or during your childhood sleepovers, you know that punchy chorus can make even the most timid person belt "THE LAST TIME I FREAKED OUT, I JUST KEPT LOOKING DOWN!" Yup, "See You Again" is a fun time and a great introduction to Miley's true artistic identity, following her star-studded Hannah Montana days. On this bop, she's not living the best of both worlds: she's just being Miley.
5. "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart"
"Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" is actually produced by Mark Ronson and only features Cyrus, but similar to Bruno Mars' contribution to Ronson's "Uptown Funk," this song feels like it was made entirely for Cyrus. Therefore, we don't feel bad claiming it as her own.
"Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" speaks of a desperate scene between two lovers and underscores the dour persona surrounding heartbreak against other tragic disasters that humans face - like burning houses and crashing thunder. (A little ironic now, considering Cyrus' recent in-flight lightning scare!) Basically, "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" tries to make a point that when it comes to heartbreak, sometimes it can feel like the worst catastrophe in the world when you're in it.
With a steady beat, catchy chorus, and plucky guitar strings that add a nice touch, this track sees Cyrus boldly stepping into a new era. It's "Jolene" for the next generation, but darker, more dramatic, and smattered with country disco.
4. "We Can't Stop"
It's our list and we can do what we want - including putting "We Can't Stop" within the top 4! Anyone else have fond memories of partying to this song back in 2013? Good times, good times.
Anyway, "We Can't Stop" was one of our first tastes of a bolder Miley Cyrus. She turned heads with "Can't Be Tamed," but this first single from Bangerz cemented her new persona as a rowdy party girl. No more squeaky clean Disney channel star...hello fun, raunchy, and mature Miley!
"We Can't Stop" was just shy of hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #2 in the U.S. It's a pretty unconventional party song, given it has a slow, chill tempo yet feels so energizing. It's a bittersweet track with a little language (the only swear word here used is “hell”), a little sex, some hip-hip references, and a dance with Molly that may or may not mean drugs.
3. "Wrecking Ball"
Miley slammed us with a cultural reset back in 2013 with this classic! Yes, it caused some controversy thanks to its iconic and often-parodied music video, but it was Miley's first Hot 100 #1 single and you can't deny..."Wrecking Ball" is memorable.
Musically, this pop ballad is notable for its tame electronic patterings that crash into an explosive beat and wailing chorus. It's all thanks to Dr. Luke, who produced "Wrecking Ball" after he came to fame in 2004 for helping Kelly Clarkson with “Since U Been Gone.”
Critics have praised "Wrecking Ball" for its emotional delivery and backstory. This is another track written about Liam Hemsworth: it followed his and Miley's initial breakup in 2013. Regarding the track and video, Miley said during an Elvis Duran and the Morning Show radio interview: "The song is a pop ballad that everyone can relate to; everyone has felt that feeling at some point. If people can take their minds off the obvious and go into their imagination and see what the video really means, it is so vulnerable."
Fun fact: there's a rumor that "Wrecking Ball" was originally written for Beyoncé, but she passed on it! We'd love to travel to an alternate universe just to hear what that would sound like. Honestly, we can't imagine anyone else but Miley singing this.
2. "The Climb"
The ultimate "don't give up" song. If you can't relate on some level to the message of "The Climb," you're probably not a human being.
“The Climb” is a country pop power ballad where Cyrus sings about how rewarding the journey of life is despite its unsure ending. The song was released as the lead single off the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack. Yes: we know we said no Hannah Montana songs, but we think this one gets a free pass since Miley has never worn the blonde wig while crooning this tune.
In the context of the Disney movie, "The Climb" describes the important lesson Miley learns in her hometown to better appreciate her life outside of the pop stardom created by Hannah Montana. It also references a quote said by the character Travis Brody in the film, "life's a climb, but the view's great."
The power ballad became an instant commercial hit by peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became Cyrus’s first solo single to be released to country radio. And trust us: this song played everywhere on the radio when it was first released. You couldn't escape "The Climb."
1. "Party In The U.S.A."
If you live in the United States, you know how big this song gets every 4th of July! Even if it isn't the 4th of July or you don't live in the United States, there's no shame in partying to this Miley song every day.
Another smash hit by Dr. Luke, "Party In the U.S.A." was co-written with English pop star Jessie J. Jessie originally intended to sing it, even creating a demo version. However, she ultimately handed it off to Miley because she felt it didn't match her persona.
Jessie made the right call giving it to Miley. In 2009, "Party In The U.S.A." debuted and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. (In our hearts, it will always be #1.) It was included on Cyrus' The Time of Our Lives EP and was certified diamond by the RIAA in 2020. Young Miley hadn't even listened to any Jay-Z songs on the radio at the time of "Party In The U.S.A.'s" release, but this song would help her gain an all-American reputation that, even as she experiments with other genres and aesthetics, she still holds today.
We like what music critic Michael Hann has to say about this song. At first, he called it a "cute pop song" for The Guardian. Later, while reviewing Miley's Wonder World Tour, he elaborated that the song was a reminder "that manufactured pop need not be a bad thing – if the manufacturing is good enough." Indeed, this song's manufacturing will forever have us putting our hands up and nodding our heads like "yeah."
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