17 Again: The evolution of Miley Cyrus

How Miley Cyrus' journey came full circle after all these years 

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(Raph_PH / Wikimedia Commons)

Nasya Blackshear, Writer

For Miley Cyrus, it’s always been the “Best of Both Worlds.” From a hit TV show to movies to albums, Cyrus has been on an unforgettable roll for the last decade.  She has evolved in order to stay ahead of the times whether that meant swinging naked from a wrecking ball or singing in all white with balloons. The Miley Cyrus we know now is different from the Miley Cyrus we knew then. Over the span of a decade, she has evolved into the woman we now know, with quite a few transformations under her belt. 

2010-2012: The “Can’t Be Tamed” Era

Miley Cyrus
Vivian L. Arita/Creative Commons

Right out the gate, Cyrus began the decade trying to create a new mature image. After being Hannah Montana for 6 years, Cyrus was ready for a change. During the summer of 2010, Cyrus released “Can’t Be Tamed” her first album unrelated to the Hannah Montana image. “Can’t Be Tamed” was dark, gritty and sexy. It was uncharted territory for Cyrus. Her look matched her music; more blacks and grays,  dark smokey eyes and hair extensions for days.

The album itself wasn’t well-received as parents were upset that Cyrus was transitioning into a new phase. This era also marked that last album Cyrus did as Hannah Montana, “Hannah Montana Forever” which was a total flop due to the drastic image change. During this time, Cyrus chose to focus on the more mature side of her acting career with films like “The Last Song”- where she met beau Liam Hemsworth-, “LOL” and “So Undercover,” all of which did poorly in critics’ eyes.  

2013-2014: The “Bangerz” Era 

Miley Cyrus - Telenor Arena 2014“Miley Cyrus – Telenor Arena 2014” by NRK P3 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

With one chop of her brown locks into a bleach blonde pixie cut, Cyrus did a 180. She became everything the Disney company was against and transitioned into her most memorable era. Cyrus nestled into the hip-hop scene with collaborators like Snoop Lion, Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa, but was criticized by fans and the public for committing cultural appropriation.

 After the backlash, Cyrus went on to release “We Can’t Stop” which became a Billboard Hot 100 hit and put Cyrus back in the public’s good graces. This was until the over-sexualized performances, constant promotion of drug use and the unfortunate incident with a foam finger. Many called Cyrus out of control, as if she’d lost her mind. 

Anyone could tell that it was a new sense of liberation Cyrus had found after spending years portraying a child star. It was also during this era that Cyrus and her longtime beau Liam Hemsworth split, for what wasn’t the first or last time. This inspired the iconic performance of her single “Wrecking Ball” where she swung naked from a wrecking ball. This again brought Cyrus into public scrutiny. While some considered her performance as art, others considered it trashy. It wouldn’t stop there, as Cyrus would release her fourth studio album “Bangerz” that was met with a generally positive reception. While the “Bangerz” tour was seen as controversial, it too was met with positive reviews. Cyrus was also named MTV’s Artist of the Year during this era, proving that her new look and sound were paying off. 

2016-2017: The “Younger Now” Era

Miley Cyrus Cover Photo
RCArecords/”Younger Now”

Off the high of the “Bangerz” era and fast-forwarding through the less memorable “Miley & Her Dead Petz” album, Cyrus returned to her country roots for her next album. She grew out the pixie cut letting her long blonde locks grow back, reminiscent of her Hannah Montana days. Around this time Cyrus and beau Hemsworth rekindled their relationship, bringing Cyrus to write the song “Malibu” for him. During this time, Cyrus began acting again taking a role in “Crisis in Six Scenes” with Woody Allen for Amazon Studios. It can be noted that during “Bangerz” and the “Younger Now” eras, Cyrus surrounded herself with questionable men like Robin Thicke and Woody Allen whose reputations precede them. Cyrus would go on to say that she felt “sexualized” during her Thicke VMA performance, showing fans that she recognized the poor nature of it.  Cyrus also became the youngest judge on the hit singing show “The Voice.” To many, it seemed like Cyrus was settling down, no longer feeling the need to be such a wild child with controversial performances. It was as if Cyrus was coming into herself all over again as if “Bangerz” was her wild child period. 

2018-Present: The “She is Coming” Era 

Cut to the present day. Cyrus went full Hannah Montana with the bangs and long blonde hair, but her music told a different story. Cyrus would go on to release “She is Coming” the first of three installments that would create her seventh studio album “She is Miley Cyrus.” This EP was comprised of six songs including the hit radio single “Mother’s Daughter,” an empowering song for feelings that were  coming off the cusp of Halsey’s “Nightmare.” During this time Cyrus continued to take small acting roles and starred in an episode in Season 5 of “Black Mirror” titled “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too.” 

Cyrus also would secretly marry Hemsworth at her family ranch in Tennessee in 2018. Their marriage would only last for 11 months, prompting Cyrus to release her most recent single “Slide Away” in honor of their time together. Cyrus also worked along Ariana Grande and Lana del Ray to perform a single for the new “Charlie’s Angels” called “Don’t Call Me Angel.” Cyrus has a post-breakup glow, that would go into a honeymoon glow as she began dating Cody Simpson earlier this year, although there are already rumors that they’ve split Simpson was present to help Cyrus celebrate her 27th birthday in November.

Miley Cyrus has come a long way over the course of a decade. It’s crazy to think we began the decade with her as Hannah Montana and ended it with a quasi reincarnation. Cyrus has been a force to be reckoned with; she never once fell off the grid and kept her name in people’s mouth. As the saying goes, “all publicity is good publicity” and Cyrus used that to her advantage. Whether it was sliding down a prop version of her own tongue or being a vegan activist, Cyrus has never shied away from finding herself. It feels as if Cyrus’s fans joined her along the journey she went on. A generation has grown up with her, watching as she’s grown and made mistakes that everyone was able to learn from. Cyrus proves herself as an inspiration having her own charity as well as speaking out for veganism and other issues she’s invested in. From 17 to 27, Cyrus has shown her fans and this generation that it’s okay to be yourself and figure things out. Cyrus just had to figure things out in the public eye and is still continuing to do so.

Email Nasya at nblackshea[email protected] or follow her on Twitter @lilbbynas.

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