As Miley Cyrus has shared recently, today, August 25, is a major anniversary for her personally and professionally. It was ten years ago on this day that she released “Wrecking Ball”, in my opinion it's her best song, and then she showed up on stage at the MTV VMAs and twerked all over the place and people got big mad and she and Liam Hemsworth had broken up (for the first time).
Miley is now 30, she’s been very, very, very famous for over half her life. In other words, she has been through it. “Used To Be Young” is her new single that reflects on the last decade, the choices she’s made, the growth she’s experienced, and the peace she’s earned in the process. At least that’s how it looks to me. The Miley of the last few years has been relatively drama-free. It’s now been exactly four years since she and Liam divorced and she is not making the kinds of headlines she was making in the summer of 2013. In fact, 2023 has been probably the most successful year of her career since, a beautiful way to bookend the decade. You might say she kicked it off by tearing it down with “Wrecking Ball” and came all the way back around in bloom with “Flowers”.
And now, on “Used To Be Young”, she’s putting it all in perspective.
I LOVE these lyrics. I LOVE this song. It’s the perfect way to celebrate August 25, the perfect companion to “Wrecking Ball”, also a pop ballad, and the perfect non-apology. Of course she used to be messy, because she used to be young. It’s just that her chaos was played out on the biggest stage… if you can even call it chaos. After all, perspective is both internal and external – looking back now at how scandalised the culture was at the time by Miley being Miley, I mean, come on, it was totally overblown. This wasn’t scandal, it was reinvention, a celebrity path that should be familiar to everyone by now but, you know, human history has shown us that the world will always have something to say when a girl becomes a woman.
In 2013, here was Hannah Montana and all of her tongue and her ass and whatever and the pearl clutchers started hyperventilating and now, fast forward to 2023, and Miley’s wearing Mickey Mouse as she sings about how she “Used To Be Young”, an obvious callback to her past, a past she pushed back against in rebellion and has now reembraced. This isn’t new, Miley has long reconciled with her Disney days, but it works for the theme of this song and what she’s trying to say and the performance she’s giving here…
Which brings me to my final point – this video, and how unprecise it is, you can see it in the lip synch, she’s late on a few parts, but it doesn’t matter, because that’s the whole point of the song. Even if there’s a bobble, you still keep going. That’s the beauty of life and learning. So the take we’re seeing is the version with all the emotion, the tears on her face, the memories in her eyes, the proud resilience in her smile. This is Miley who used to be… younger. Let’s say younger, LOL.