When large promotional posters reading “New Year, New Miley” began popping up across the globe in late December, my attention was piqued. It’s been approximately two years since Cyrus last gave us “Smilers” — her fandom name — new original music with her supercharged rock inspired seventh album, “Plastic Hearts.”
Upon seeing photos of these posters online and in person on a trip to California, I wondered if they were teasing a “New Miley” in the form of new music, or if they were just promoting Cyrus’ New Years Eve special with Dolly Parton. I got my answer while watching Miley’s New Years Eve Party as a cryptic video of Cyrus walking up a hill backed by acapella vocals flashed on my TV screen. The rumors were true… Miley is back. The teaser announced that her new single, “Flowers” was to be released on January 13th, the same day as her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth’s 33rd birthday.
A few days later, Cyrus announced that her eighth studio album “Endless Summer Vacation” will be released on March 10th. The announcement came alongside an ominous album trailer in which hypnotizing synths flow behind Cyrus reciting a scattered monologue.
As release day finally came, I logged onto YouTube to catch the music video premiere. The opening shot of Cyrus meandering along a bridge next to a sunset painted Los Angeles is striking and almost as dreamy as the metallic dress and headwrap she dons. The mood suddenly changes as the video cuts to Cyrus strutting up a hill, pulling her hair up into a bun. The bulk of the music video is set at an empty Los Angeles mansion, and we watch Cyrus exercise, dance, and lounge throughout all parts of the house.
The essence of the song’s music video communicates a “better on my own” mentality, most clearly personified by Cyrus slipping into what we can assume to be her ex lover’s oversized blazer while continuing to dance around the house. The love of independence conveyed in “Flowers’” reminds me of Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2018 single “Party For One.” Both cleverly rewrite the misconception that women need a man or must stay in a relationship to be happy.
Cyrus sings “I can take myself dancing / And I can hold my own hand / Yeah, I can love me better than you can,” and shrugs off whatever drama she’d experienced with her last partner. Many fans have assumed the song to be about Cyrus’ ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, given the line “built a home and watched it burn,” which references the couples’ Malibu home burning down in 2018. Cyrus already addressed her divorce from Hemsworth on her last record, “Plastic Hearts,” on songs like “WTF Do I Know” and “Never Be Me.” It’ll be interesting to see if she will continue to use the fallout as inspiration on this upcoming record of if “Flowers” is the final addition to the Hemsworth breakup-related music she’s released. Regardless, if there’s one thing Miley Cyrus can do, it’s write a kick-ass song about independence.
As “Flowers” is Cyrus’ first lead single since the lush synth and drum heavy “Midnight Sky,” I wasn’t sure what to expect “Flowers” to sound like. Would she continue her venture into glossy pop-rock inspired numbers or switch it up and go somewhere completely new? The answer is neither. “Flowers” reaches its climax in its string and drum centered choruses, opting for a much more stripped back sound. It’s unfair to expect the same sound previously used by an artist for a new album cycle, especially from someone like Miley Cyrus who has consistently reinvented her sound with each release. While the song is undoubtedly good, it doesn’t hit quite as hard as singles like “Midnight Sky” and “Can’t Be Tamed.” The single has made me question what the rest of “Endless Summer Vacation” will hold, and whether she’ll give fans the big pop numbers she’s great at. Rumors have circulated that she’ll go for a 70’s inspired rock sound, but this lead single doesn’t quite support that theory.
“Flowers” has already proved to be a mark of Cyrus as a commercial force, as it’s already reached the #1 spot on the US Spotify chart. With an undeniably great message and with this much anticipation already mounting for the release of “Endless Summer Vacation,” I along with the rest of the world will be anxiously anticipating Cyrus’ next move.
Miley Cyrus' album "Endless Summer Vacation" will be released on March 10th, 2023.