Michelle Townsend recounts the pop star's many images and music styles.
Miley Cyrus burst onto our screens in 2006 playing the title role of teen pop sensation Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel. Since then the world has bore witness to the dizzying highs and extreme lows of the actress and singer’s life in the public eye. Although she has been no stranger to dominating the tabloids through her relationships, wacky fashion sense and general behaviour, it is through her music that we have learned about Miley the most. This week marks the release of the singer’s new album, Younger Now, showcasing a refreshing, more mature sound which is indicative of a new and much more mature chapter in Miley’s life.
However, “refreshing” and “mature” are not words fans and critics would typically associate with Miley. She has grown up, made mistakes, and impacted the lives of thousands and her catalogue of albums is a testament to the public rise and fall of Miley Cyrus.
It has been nearly ten years since Miley released her first album unaffiliated with Hannah Montana. Appropriately named Breakout, Miley wanted to prove to the world she is a singer and performer in her own right, and not just a Disney Channel star. However badly she wanted to distinguish a difference between the sound of Hannah and Miley, this just was not likely due to the innocent, teen pop vibes the album gave off. That is not to say Breakout was not a massive success - the album went to number 11 in Ireland and provided fans with the memorable hits "See You Again" and "7 Things".
Fast forward two years later and Miley’s next album Can’t Be Tamed is released. In 2010, Miley started to slowly but surely distance herself from the Disney Channel image. She started dating Australian actor Liam Hemsworth after meeting him on set of the movie The Last Song. Miley began to gain credibility and recognition worldwide as an established actress and singer, and not just a one-trick pony as a manufactured Disney teen sensation. Fans could see she her music was maturing ever so slightly and that she was happy in her relationship. Miley was in a good place.
In 2013, Miley released her best-selling album to date - at arguably the lowest point in her life. Bangerz reached number one in a multitude of countries including Ireland. The talking point of this album was just how much Miley had changed. Her relationship with Liam ended, she cut and bleached her hair, and adopted a rebellious party girl image. She was in the tabloids nearly everyday for drunken antics, wardrobe malfunctions, ludicrous statements - all while smashing the charts with hits such as "We Can’t Stop" and "Wrecking Ball". In one sense Miley had it all - a chart-topping album, a wave of new fans and worldwide fame. In another sense she had lost everything - her legion of old fans were unimpressed with the new Miley and she was devastated after her breakup with Liam, to whom she dedicated the heart-wrenching Wrecking Ball.
However, all was not lost. After the chaos from Bangerz and all the tabloid controversies that came with it died down, a new lease of life was breathed into Miley. She set up The Happy Hippie Foundation to raise funds for the LGBT community as well as other minorities and got her relationship with Liam back on track. And now, with her new album Younger Now, fans can see a confident Miley who is finally at peace with herself. The lead single, "Malibu", is dedicated to Liam, but this time instead of lyrics infused with sorrow and heartbreak, it is an ode to how happy he makes her and the positive impact he has had on her life. Her new single, also named "Younger Now", portrays to fans that although Miley is aware of her past, she looks forward to an inevitably bright future. Lyrics such as “ Feels like I just woke up // Like all this time I've been asleep // Even though it's not who I am // I'm not afraid of who I used to be” prove this.
Miley Cyrus has been through so much since catapulting into fame eleven years ago. The music she has released over the years has been a testament to her honesty, genuinity and passion for what she believes in. Growing up in the spotlight could not have been easy, but through her music Miley has always stayed true to herself - and that’s what makes her such an iconic performer of our time.