WAMH x The Student: Miley Cyrus

By Victoria Thomas ’25

Miley Cyrus’s new album, “ATTENTION: MILEY LIVE,” is a collection of the singer’s classic tracks performed live. Victoria Thomas ’25 reflects on the performer’s history and journey of self-discovery, as expressed through the album. Photo courtesy of quotepark.com.

On April 1, Miley Cyrus released “ATTENTION: MILEY LIVE,” a live album featuring some of her most popular songs and covers, and two previously unreleased pieces, “Attention” and “You.”

Miley Cyrus has been a familiar face in pop music since 2006. Her Disney show and persona “Hannah Montana” was a staple of my and many others’ childhoods. I have a plethora of Hannah Montana songs on my playlists alongside even more Miley songs from each of her eras.

Opinions on Miley Cyrus tend to vary, mostly depending on which version of her comes to mind when you hear her name. My parents, for example, remember Miley as the rebellious “Wrecking Ball” singer, an image they were certainly not fans of. Her revealing clothing and explicit, expressive performances deemed her a danger for young girls to look up to. Some still take issue with her fashion sense and overall look.

However, many of my peers and I find comfort in the evolving iterations of Miley over the years. As someone who has followed Miley in one way or another throughout her career, her evolution and dedication to self-expression and growth has not only impacted my connection to her and her music, but my connection with myself. “Can’t Be Tamed” and “Rock Star” are two songs proven to put me in a great mood, “1 Sun” and “On My Own” are fundamental to my life philosophy, and, of course, “The Climb” is a reliable classic for when I’m going through hard times. Miley’s music, no matter the album, has always, and will always be integral to my life. Her self-expression throughout the years has paved the way for my own self-expression, and I would argue that her unapologetic authenticity is what has made her a great role model, even during her “Wrecking Ball” era.

Throughout her new album, Miley shares moments of reflection with the crowd, thanking her fanbase for sticking with her as she’s gone through so many changes.

The live recordings of “The Climb,” “Wrecking Ball x Nothing Compares To You,” and “Never Be Me,” are gut-wrenching renditions of already-sad songs, evoking the nostalgia and influence Miley has had over the years.

I asked some of my friends their thoughts on the rockstar, and here’s what they had to say: 

“Miley Cyrus has made me feel comfortable with my femininity … I’ve grown with her.” — Maristhela Alvarez ’25

“I like her, I f — k with her. It’s cool to see her outward and inward transition reflected in her music. [The lyric] ‘You’ll always find your way back home’ still rings true today.” — Kai Robinson

“She is finding herself now. But I don’t like how she dresses anymore, so it’s pros and cons.” — My brother, Alex Thomas

Whether you’re a fan of hers or not, it’s hard to deny her openness about her journey of self-discovery. From her albums “Breakout,” “Can’t Be Tamed” and “Bangerz,” the albums that made her reputation as a generation’s rebellious, bad role-model, to her emotional album “Younger Now” — which brought us “Malibu,” one of Miley’s more recent popular songs and one of my personal favorites — to her “Plastic Hearts” rock album, Cyrus has truly expressed herself in every possible way in order to get to where she is now. This rollercoaster of experiences is not something that’s lost on the rockstar. 

The track “23” is four and a half minutes of Miley sharing vulnerable moments with the audience, talking about all the identities she’s encompassed over the past 15 years. 

She says, “And all of those identities that I was trying on and seeing if they fit me, like the skin that I’m in right now, you all stood beside me and grew with me and watched me evolve, and I hope that we get to do that over and over and over again for the rest of my life.”

She then shares how different it is to perform post-pandemic, “finding [her] feet” on stage again, and dealing with anxiety and fear. A few of the other tracks end with her sharing similar heartfelt moments, which add an intimate touch to the otherwise emotional rollercoaster of an album. I highly recommend listening, even if you’re not a fan, to hear what she has to say. This album feels like a landmark in the artist’s career, a career which she has no intentions of stopping.