If you’ve been a fan of Miley Cyrus since her double-life, blonde wig, Disney star era, then you are no stranger to the ever-changing genres in her discography. Her most recent album, Endless Summer Vacation, released this past Friday, takes us on a journey through her eclectic musical evolution.
The pop sensation’s jarring ride throughout her 17 years in the entertainment industry made her a staple in the tabloids. Since her release of Younger Now in 2017, she has proved to all observers that she doesn’t fear being criticized for expressing herself. Prior to her latest release, each of Cyrus’ albums have tended to focus on a different musical genre that made each new release stand out from previous work – but Endless Summer Vacation is a combination of all the musical experiments she has used in the past. Her long-play SHE IS COMING (2019) introduced us to an all-new Miley Cyrus that eased us into the release of her 2020 album, Plastic Hearts, filled with her raspy, powerful voice that is an ode to the women of rock ‘n roll.
The release of Endless Summer Vacation falls at a pivotal point for Cyrus’ career, and she uses all of her life experiences and musical trial-and-errors to invite the audience to join her self-discovery journey. From her controversial twerking on Robin Thicke at the 2013 VMA’s to finding love with her teenage sweetheart, Liam Hemsworth—and then a public divorce from the actor‚ her new album represents a full circle of growth and it’s an album you need to listen to (even if you’ve never considered yourself a Cyrus fan).
In addition to her album, Cyrus also made a comeback to Disney by releasing a Backyard Sessions documentary on Disney+. In the film, not only does she beautifully sing tracks from her latest release, but she also provides an interview about what each song means to her and touches on her old Hannah Montana days by singing the nostalgic “The Climb.” Whether she is expressing herself through her music, outfits, or aesthetic, Cyrus expresses in her documentary that “this album feels like it’s a kind of concoction of all of the best of those sounds that I’ve tried out”.
“Flowers,” her teaser single for the album released in January, immediately connected us to the Miley we all love – independent, valiant, and self-loving. Fans were quick to note that the song is a response to Bruno Mars’ well-loved hit, “When I Was Your Man”, and she even includes the demo of “Flowers” in her album where she confirms that the single is a replayed sample. The song celebrates self-love, and when explaining the meaning of the hit single in her documentary, Miley quotes Mama Ru (a.k.a the queen of all drag queens, RuPaul), “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”
Right before releasing the full long-play, Cyrus released “River”, and fans again began to theorize that her album will be a reflection of empowerment and how to find your own self-worth after a relationship—and they were right. This song will make you wish you were dancing in a disco knowing you are the moment.
There is not a simple genre into which Endless Summer Vacation can be categorized as. With tracks featuring Sia and Brandi Carlile, Cyrus shines her talent at being able to sing just about any style. The album travels through country-pop, empowering ballads, club-popping, art-rock, and more. “You” and “Wonder Woman” gives us a taste of her soothing and cooing voice while “Jaded” and “Muddy Feet” (featuring the iconic Sia) brings us back to her Plastic Hearts days with her compelling, throaty voice that makes you want to scream-sing along with her in the car. There is a song for every need and desire, especially if you are experiencing a moment when you need to remind yourself that your own self-compassion is more important than anything else.
Cyrus has long ditched her days of neon lights, spunky hair and latex outfits and brought us a culmination of her artistic growth with this latest release. If you’ve never considered looking into her discography, this album is the perfect way to step into her work, and, as Miley says in her documentary, “The journey is usually the part you remember anyways,” so believe us when we say you won’t regret it.
Photo, top: Screenshot from Youtube, "Flowers" Miley Cyrus
Micaela Soler is a senior student at The College of New Jersey where she pursues a bachelor's with a dual major in Journalism & Professional Writing and Spanish. She has a large passion in writing, photography, and culture, and in her free time you can find her binge-watching tv shows and trying new recipes.