Last night, when I saw that Miley Cyrus was on the cover of Billboard with an accompanying article, titled (in part) “Miley Cyrus Breaks Silence,” I did that thing people do in movies where they run their arm across a desk in anger, knocking everything off. Except I did it to my mind, metaphorically and out of sheer joy. “EVERYONE SHUT THE FUCK UP THIS IS IMPORTANT,” I screamed at my brain cells as I pulled the article up on my phone and brought it close to my face.
“She looks just like her mom Tish here,” I thought creepily, appraising the feature photo of her riding a rocking horse in a field. She really does.
After the first paragraph, which described a tangly haired Miley padding around Rainbow Land, her kitschy recording studio, in a vintage T-shirt, eager to end her self-imposed media blackout, I texted my editor. “Should I write about Miley?” I shot off, linking the article. “Fine,” she responded. I recalled a Miley story I’d pitched a month ago that was shot down because “no one cares about Miley Cyrus” and felt utterly vindicated. Is this what personal fulfillment feels like?
My fascination with Miley Cyrus is a little inexplicable. Disney’s Hannah Montana was after my time, so it’s not rooted in some sort of way-back loyalty. When “Can’t Be Tamed” came out and everyone was up in arms about her anti-Disney rebrand (remember the risqué shoot with Annie Leibovitz?), I was neither disturbed nor particularly interested. But when she started wearing that ballerina bun around LA? And when she chopped her hair and dyed it blond and started wearing black onesies and chunky gold Chanel jewelry? She reeled me in like a fucking magnet. I fell fast.
It’s hard to say how many times I watched the “We Can’t Stop” music video, but an estimation north of 100 wouldn’t offend me.
I didn’t go to her tour (I’m too old for stadium concerts; they make me feel weird), but I laughed at the tongue slide on Twitter. I listened to the album a ton. Her twangy version of pop just kind of did it for me, even though I also found it a little terrible. It’s good-terrible. In the years following, as she transitioned into her Dead Petz-Flaming Lips phase, she did lose me a little, I’ll admit. I thought that time she hosted the VMAs in 2015 was just as bad as everyone else did (WE GET IT, YOU SMOKE WEED) and I was put off by the whole face-dripping-in-sparkly-milk aesthetic she seemed so keen on through 2016. At least she stayed unabashed?
All said, I still cared about her and her 17 literal pets. I respected her work with the homeless and her musical talent and I defended her like I was in fucking court for YEARS, even when I secretly agreed with my opponents. I even stuck with her through her beading period. I mean, how could I not come out of the other side of that with some kind of Stockholm Syndrome?
I’ve been waiting for a Miley comeback for years. A REAL comeback. Her most recent album “Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz” just didn’t do it for me. Per Billboard, it’s coming. She’s going through another transition. She hasn’t smoked weed in three weeks! “I like to surround myself with people that make me want to get better, more evolved, open. And I was noticing, it’s not the people that are stoned,” she said. “I want to be super clear and sharp, because I know exactly where I want to be.”
By the looks of it, that means more time making music and less time sexualizing baby corn, which honestly I appreciate. I just don’t know how many more plastic beads and phallic references I can handle on my feed. Apparently her new song drops next Thursday, May 11th, and then a whole album — which she wrote entirely herself and which Billboard describes as “gimmick-free pop rock” — is set to be released later this year.
She says she’s tired of alienating people. That she’s moving past using shock as a political statement. “All the nipple pastie shit, that’s what I did because I felt it was part of my political movement, and that got me to where I am now,” she says. “I’m evolving, and I surround myself with smart people that are evolved.”
I’m just ready. It’s time. She is EVOLVING. She is!
Photo by James Devaney/GC Images via Getty Images.