Miley Cyrus is one of the biggest chameleons in pop music. She’s been making music for over a decade now and in that time she’s been a teen sensation, pop’s wild child and a country crossover. There’s nothing she can’t do which is not to say she’s done everything well. For the most part, however, she’s created an exciting discography. Here are our 21 favourite Miley songs ranked:
Malibu gave us Miley without the edge in an attempt to rebrand her. The good girl image didn’t stick long and it ultimately left us with a safe but likeable pop song.
Bangerz was all about its ‘bangers’ but it was some of the ballads that actually dealt the biggest sucker punches. This glitchy, hard-hitting Mike-WiLL-Made-It production made way for some of Miley’s most powerful vocal work.
19. Mother’s Daughter
The lead-single off She Is Coming is a fist-up protest song that fights for the freedom of the underdog. It doesn’t quite pull off what it sets out to do but it was a welcome return to an outspoken Miley.
18. My Darlin’
We never expected to hear Future and Miley duet but what we didn’t expect more is how well their voices would mesh. My Darlin’ should’ve been a disaster but instead their smokey vocals fused to create a tender moment.
17. I Get So Scared
Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz is regarded as a trainwreck by many but it actually showcases some of her rawest songwriting to date. I Get So Scared is an exposed, sweeping moment that strikes an emotional chord with lines like, “The universe gets to decide our future is written up in the sky.”
16. I Would Die For You
Younger Now was Miley’s love album and while it made way for plenty of vanilla moments, I Would Die For You is a stirring acoustic ballad. She finds power in the softer registers of her raspy voice, counteracting the hyperbole of the lyrics.
15. Adore You
Bangerz was full of contradictions, highlighted best by the fact the opener was a heartfelt ballad. Oren Yoel and Miley made magic on this elongated, slow-moving cut that acted as the calm before the storm.
14. Space Bootz
The Flaming Lips may have sent Miley to space but it was Oren Yoel who managed to capture the moment best. At its core, Space Bootz is a statement of love lost but its coloured by playful sounds. It’s full of high, hyperbolic realisations but it’s unfiltered stream of consciousness reveals some of Miley’s best songwriting.
13. Can’t Be Tamed
Miley tried many times to show the world she wasn’t a Disney girl anymore but Can’t Be Tamed was her most explicit statement. The muscular, electro-pop track may have been a bit on the nose at the time but it surprisingly stands the test of time.
12. 7 Things
It’s hard to judge 7 Things out of the pop-rock time that it was born in but there are pop licks here that are impossible to ignore. That rollicking, fast-firing chorus is a moment of pop genius that almost makes us forgive the live drums and guitar.
11. Party Up The Street
It may be controversially high but Party Up The Street is the most sonically interesting thing she’s done since Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. Swae Lee’s suave, minimal songwriting shines over the ladder-climbing Mike-Will beat. Meanwhile, Miley explores the softer parts of her voice, treating this expert melody with an uncharacteristic finesse.
10. Who Owns My Heart
Consider this – Who Owns My Heart was ahead of its time. The sleek, electro-pop beat of the verses come surprisingly close to the world of modern Robyn and Carly Rae Jepsen. The guitar-heavy chorus dates it but its hard to deny the dancefloor-ready power of this.
9. Younger Now
Younger Now is a song that Miley could’ve released in 20 years time. There’s a timelessness to it that’s rare for one of her songs. It may have been an attempt to say she’s grown since Bangerz but we’ll forgive her because it’s a stomping, hearty country song with a refreshing message of renewal.
There was a helium-like weightlessness to Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz and Lighter is the best example of that. It’s one of the most emotional records in her catalogue, allowing her head to drift away and watch her own romance from above. She strangely achieves this by using lighting a blunt as a metaphor for ever-burning love.
7. Slide Away
Miley is making some of the best music of her life right now, experimenting with a grittier sound. Some of it has worked, some of it hasn’t. Slide Away worked. Released almost in real-time after her break-up with husband Liam Hemsworth, it’s a mature statement of liberation tinged with sadness. The psych-rock production adds a locomotion to the song that goes hand-in-hand with the lyrics.
6. The Climb
The Climb is one of the greatest pop ballads ever written. It’s essentially an inspiring puff piece for a movie but at the hands of Miley it becomes a mountain conquering monster that soars no matter what year you listen to it in.
5. See You Again
See You Again is the song that made Miley a popstar. It’s a menacing, pulsating pop song that has an inspiring determination to it. Once that chorus explodes, she’s built up enough tension to release for the entirety of the song. And she does. It thunders on with passion and power which is a rare combination for a 14 year-old.
4. We Can’t Stop
Miley took all the stories about her partying and spiralling behaviour and turned it into one of the biggest hits of her career. From lines in the bathroom to popping molly, Miley crafted a party song that divided but also conquered. As annoying as it may be for many, We Can’t Stop captures a reckless feeling of euphoria that still feels good.
3. Party In The U.S.A.
There are some songs that just nail the pop formula and this is one of them. It captures America at a time of pop supremacy, making it sound like the glossy Hollywood dream that everyone imagined. Long before Lana Del Rey painted it as a country on fire, Miley made it sound like an exciting land of fame and opportunity. It’s highly unlikely she belives that now but it was fun to dream.
2. Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
There’s been a certain gimmick attached to each Miley project but with Nothing Breaks Like A Heart she stepped out as an artist defined by her own talent. Alongside Mark Ronson, she crafted a dark, impassioned aftermath to Jolene. It fuses country and disco effortlessly finding the perfect space for Miley to prove herself as one of this generation’s greatest voices.
1. Wrecking Ball
Miley may regret the video for this song now but this song stands on its own without it. Wrecking Ball is one of the greatest heartbreak songs of this millennium. It’s a towering, gigantic pop song that’s crushed by Miley’s forceful vocal delivery. “I never meant to start a war / I just wanted you to let me in,” Miley sings amongst the wreckage. It’s the aftermath of something that can’t be rebuilt and she delivers it with the emotion that a line like that deserves.