It’s release week! On 25 August, Miley Cyrus will launch her new single, ‘Used to Be Young’, an emotional ballad that accompanies the release of her upcoming documentary concert special Endless Summer Vacation: Continued (Backyard Sessions). This week also marks the 10-year anniversary of her worldwide chart-topper ‘Wrecking Ball’, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to rank all of Miley’s lead singles, from her debut dance-rocker ‘See You Again’ to her breezy breakup smasher ‘Flowers’.
9. ‘7 Things’ (2008, Breakout)
The lead single from Miley’s sophomore album saw the star blend pop-punk and country as she hit out at an ex-boyfriend (rumoured to be Nick Jonas) and his various despicable qualities, such as his vanity and ‘jerk’ friends. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, the star was asked if she was worried if the ex in question would be upset with the track, to which she (cuntily) responded: “I want him to be upset. That was my point.” While its position here may upset the Breakout stans, we have to stress that none of the songs on this list are “bad”. On the contrary: all nine entries are top tier pop. But alas, one has to go last…
8. ‘Can’t Be Tamed’ (2010, Can’t Be Tamed)
The shedding of Miley’s “sweet niblets!” Disney Channel princess officially kicked off with her third album Can’t Be Tamed and the lead single of the same name; an empowering feminist anthem where she tells her lover that she’s ‘wired a different way’ and won’t conform to societal expectations. It was a fun synthpop banger that secured Miley some cute chart peaks, but it didn’t feel like she fully committed to this wild new persona. It felt like a prequel, of sorts, to the Robin Thicke-grinding, hammer-licking Miley that caused universal outrage three years later.
7. ‘Malibu’ (2017, Younger Now)
Following the aforementioned “dancing with Molly!” antics of her fourth album Bangerz and the psychedelic beats of her free album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, the singer redefined back to basics with the breezy, pop-country stylings of Younger Now. Led by ‘Malibu’, which centres on her relationship with then-fiancé Liam Hemsworth, the euphoric Oren Yoel-produced hit is, to this day, one of her most vulnerable offerings with swoon-worthy lyrics such as, “We are just like the waves that flow back and forth, sometimes I feel like I’m drowning and you’re there to save me.” How! Beautiful!
6. ‘See You Again’ (2007, Meet Miley Cyrus)
Fact alert: dance-rock peaked with Miley’s debut single ‘See You Again’, a thumping sing-along banger featuring the iconic and irreplaceable… Lesley. With top 10 placements in the US, Australia and Canada, as well as an 11 peak in the UK (sacrilege!), ‘See You Again’ was the star’s first taste of success in the absence of her Hannah Montana alter-ego, who failed to make much of an impact on the charts outside of the States. In the years since its release, it’s developed somewhat of a cult following and is now widely regarded as one of her best singles because a: it still sounds fresh and b: it’s a great workout anthem.
5. ‘Party in the USA’ (2009, Time of Our Lives)
With the Grease-inspired music video featuring a drive-in-theatre, trucks, Daisy Dukes and American flags, ‘Party in the USA’ is widely known as the country’s pop-music equivalent of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’. Since its 2009 release, the Jessie J-written bop has surged in popularity on multiple occasions – Osama Bin Laden’s death and Joe Biden’s win for presidency, namely – helping it sell almost six million digital downloads, becoming Miley’s best-selling single in the US to date. Politics and stats aside, ‘Party in the USA’ is an infectious and cheerful summer anthem that positioned Miley as a force in the pop industry – who knows what her career trajectory would’ve looked like if she didn’t nod her head, like yeah, or move her hips, like yeah?
4. ‘Mother’s Daughter’ (2019, She Is Coming)
‘Underrated’ and ‘robbed!’ applies here. ‘Mother’s Daughter’, from Miley’s second EP She Is Coming, only managed to chart at a measly 29 and 54 in the UK and US, respectively, which is blasphemous considering – another fact incoming – it’s one of the best songs of 2019. A trap-influenced homage to Miley’s relationship with her mother Tish, the inclusive video saw the star protest anti-abortion bills and represent a wide variety of women and non-binary people, from plus-size women to trans women and disabled women. It also went viral in Poland after the country attacked women’s rights by banning abortion. Despite its meh performance on the charts, we can see ‘Mother’s Daughter’ enduring as a feminist anthem for years to come.
3. ‘We Can’t Stop’ (2013, Bangerz)
‘We Can’t Stop’ is mostly remembered for Miley’s much-scrutinised performance with Robin Thicke at the VMA’s, where she and her manicured foam finger made contact with his crotch and “twerked”. The performance, as well as the track and accompanying video, saw Miley reinvent herself – Christina Aguilera ‘Dirrrty’-style – with a more provocative image, paving the way for one of the most successful post-Disney Channel careers in the process. Controversy aside (can’t deny it was iconic, however), ‘We Can’t Stop’ ranks as one of Miley’s most contagious bops thanks to the ‘La Di Da Di’ sample and Mike Will Made It’s electropop and R&B production. The whole era should be studied on how to successfully launch a comeback.
2. ‘Midnight Sky’ (2020, Plastic Hearts)
Whether you’re fond of Miley or not, denying whether her discography is musically diverse or not is futile. Futile! She blended pop and R&B on Bangerz, experimented with psychedelic sounds on Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz and returned to her country-pop roots on Younger Now. Album seven, Plastic Hearts, featured yet another bold reinvention as she paid homage to the glam-rock and rock genres and their respective pioneers, such as Billy Idol and Stevie Nicks – complete with a Joan Jett haircut. Its brilliant lead, ‘Midnight Sky’, is a confident, disco-tinged banger that saw Miley boldly celebrate her independence from the aforementioned Hemsworth and subsequent relationships with Kaitlynn Carter and Cody Simpson. Out of all her leads, this feels like one of the most authentic representations of Miley and her artistry. It’s a bit of a shame that her rock era was so short-lived, here’s hoping a sequel is incoming…
1. ‘Flowers’ (2023, Endless Summer Vacation)
With number-one positions in 38 countries and various streaming records under its belt, including the fastest song to reach one billion streams on Spotify, ‘Flowers’ is Miley’s most commercially successful single to date. (Not too shabby for an artist 17 years into their career, huh?) It doesn’t take a pop music scientist to understand why: the mellow, disco-funk-pop hybrid boasts an instantly iconic chorus where Miley’s raspy, muscular vocals (which have never sounded better, by the way) relay the universal message of, ‘I don’t fucking need you, actually.’ ‘Flowers’ has since been heralded as the modern day version of Gloria Gaynor’s iconic breakup anthem ‘I Will Survive’. It’s even Gaynor-approved, who said the song “carries the torch of empowerment and encourages everyone to find strength in themselves to persevere and thrive”.