Bold & Unapologetic, Miley Cyrus

Bold, talented and irrevocably true to herself, Miley Cyrus has made her mark. It’s been a long road for the ‘Flowers’ singer who recently won her first Grammy, but she is burning brighter than ever. 

By Paula Dsouza

In a world that often tries to mould women into a predetermined ideal, one pop sensation has consistently defied expectations, shattered stereotypes, and embraced her true self with unapologetic fervour. Miley Cyrus, a name synonymous with controversy, evolution and now flowers, has emerged not just as a musical powerhouse, but as a symbol of liberation and defiance in the face of societal norms. From her Disney darling days to her rebellious ‘Bangerz’ era to her two-time Grammy winning night, Miley has challenged the status quo, sparking conversations about identity, feminism, and the right to self-expression. As the ‘Flowers’ singer says, “Being a woman, that’s everything to me.”  

From Destiny Hope To Miley Cyrus 

Born into a family with a strong connection to the entertainment industry, Miley seemed destined for stardom. However, her path to success was not without its challenges. Auditioning for the role of ‘Hannah’ in Disney’s ‘Hannah Montana’ series was a pivotal moment in her career. Despite facing tough competition, her charisma, and natural acting ability shone through, ultimately winning her the part. Cyrus soon legally changed her name from Destiny Hope to Miley – a name which got used in the show itself. Her portrayal of Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana catapulted her to fame, captivating audiences worldwide. This role not only launched Miley’s acting career, but also paved the way for her musical endeavours especially after her hit song ‘Party In The USA’, setting the stage for her transformation into a global pop sensation.

An Off Screen Love Story 

Miley Cyrus’ performance in ‘The Last Song’, alongside Liam Hemsworth, marked a pivotal moment in her personal life. Starring as Ronnie Miller, a rebellious teenager sent to spend the summer with her estranged father, she delivered a nuanced and heartfelt portrayal of a character grappling with loss, love, and self-discovery. Her on-screen chemistry with Hemsworth, who played her love interest, mirrored their real-life relationship, which was blossoming at the time. This would slowly but surely be the start of a 10-year long rollercoaster of a relationship. 

The Rebellion 

Even though it was met with ample controversy, Miley Cyrus’ album ‘Bangerz’ represented a significant turning point in her career, marked by a bold departure from her previous image as ‘Hannah Montana’. The album’s tracks are a mix of rebellious anthems and heartfelt ballads, showcasing her range as an artiste and her refusal to be boxed in by expectations. Songs like ‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘SMS (Bangerz)’ were energetic and infectious, exuding a sense of freedom and defiance. On the other hand, tracks like ‘Adore You’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ revealed a more vulnerable side, highlighting Miley’s willingness to explore deeper emotions. Through ‘Bangerz’, she not only pushed musical boundaries but also challenged societal norms, particularly when it comes to the expectations placed on women in the music industry. The album’s bold and unapologetic approach resonated with many, solidifying her status as a pop icon who refuses to conform and wholeheartedly embraces her true self. 

Not Just A Pop Star 

After a rather public split from long term beau Liam Hemsworth, came an album unlike anything Miley had ever released before. Released in 2020, ‘Plastic Hearts’ blended elements of rock, pop, and punk, creating a sound that is both edgy and heartfelt. With tracks like ‘Midnight Sky’ and ‘Prisoner’, Miley explores themes of love, loss, and resilience, delivering powerful vocals that captivate listeners. ‘Plastic Hearts’ has been praised for its raw honesty and authenticity, with Cyrus laying bare her emotions and experiences for all to hear.

A Grammy Or Two 

Miley Cyrus accepts the award for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Flowers” during the 66th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 4, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Blake/ File photo

And then there was ‘Flowers’. In her latest album ‘Endless Summer Vacation’, Miley gets even more personal as she talks about the confidence she has gained from focusing on her mental health.  ‘A Love Letter To LA’ is what the artiste says her album is. She further explained, “When it comes to the sequencing of ‘Endless Summer Vacation’, I divided it by two parts: AM and PM to kind of almost represent an act. The AM to me is representing the morning time, where there’s a buzz and energy and there’s a potential of new possibilities.” She continued, “At nighttime, it feels like there’s a slinky seediness and kind of a grime, but a glamour at the same time.”

However, the release of this album wasn’t where her story ended. ‘Flowers’, a single from the album, became a cultural phenomenon, resonating deeply with audiences worldwide. It swiftly emerged as the definitive breakup anthem of 2023, being one of the few breakup songs glorifying self-love as opposed to a mournful, wallowing tune. The song’s popularity soared, with its ubiquitous presence felt across social media, clubs, television, and movies, surpassing previous records she had set. This widespread acclaim culminated in a milestone moment for the music prodigy as she was awarded her first-ever Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance and later for the Record of The Year as well, a testament to her artistic growth and undeniable talent. After receiving the award from none other than Mariah Carey, Cyrus started her speech by saying, “This MC is gonna stand by this MC for this, because this is just too iconic.”

Family Above All 

Fame never clouded much for Miley as she stuck to her ideology that, “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” Singer Dolly Parton holds a special place in Miley Cyrus’ life as her Godmother. Parton’s bond with Cyrus’ family went beyond mere mentorship; it became a testament to their longstanding friendship and mutual admiration. Both musicians have performed together a number of times, taking turns to sing each other’s songs. “That little Miley Cyrus… she’s like a little Elvis. The kids love her because she’s Hannah Montana, but what people don’t realise about her is, she is such a fantastic singer and songwriter. She writes songs like she’s 40 years old!” says Parton. That being said, Dolly Parton wasn’t the only musical influence in the artiste’s life. Her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, who was one of America’s most renowned country singers at the time, played a huge part in Miley being initiated into the musical world as well. Not only did he help her get the role of Hannah Montana, but he also supported her musical journey ever since. Miley is also one of six children. Her younger sister Noah Cyrus is also a musician and has been creating music for the last few years now. Being musically talented truly does run in their blood. Lastly, the saying “two peas in a pod” doesn’t do enough justice to the relationship Miley and her mother Tish have. The artiste says, “My whole life my mom has been behind the scenes. She was always the one getting me ready for big days, starting with cheerleading competitions, then eventually on sets or backstage before a performance. She has never stopped celebrating me and has been so supportive of my decisions.”

A Space For Philanthropy 

Founded in 2014, Miley Cyrus’s foundation Happy Hippie aimed to support homeless youth, LGBTQ+ youth, and other vulnerable populations by providing resources, support, and advocacy. Through partnerships with various nonprofit organizations, Happy Hippie worked to raise awareness about issues such as youth homelessness, LGBTQ+ rights, and mental health. “Happy Hippie and I want action. We want to be the change that we want to see. And to know that I’m not alone in this dream that we are going to see become a reality brings me such hope, and hope is a crucial component in creating the world we want to live in,” says the artiste. Miley’s involvement with Happy Hippie highlights her dedication to using her platform for positive change, and her belief in the power of compassion and empathy to create a better world for all.

True To Form

Miley Cyrus stands as a beacon of empowerment for women everywhere, a reminder that strength comes from embracing one’s true self, flaws and all. Her fearless approach to life and artistry serves as a testament to the power of authenticity, challenging people to break free from society’s constraints and live on their own terms. In a world that often seeks to silence and diminish women, Miley’s unapologetic embrace of her identity is a revolutionary act, inspiring us all to be bold, be brave, and above all, be ourselves. Miley Cyrus has shown us that true liberation comes from within, and that by staying true to ourselves, we can change the world, and maybe buy ourselves some flowers while doing so. 

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