The Unexpected Genius of Miley Cyrus


Ahh, Flowers by Miley Cyrus (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7KNmW9a75Y). It’s all the rage these days, filling up my social media timeline & sparking new memes galore. And for once I’m actually in the know about a pop song! Shocking, I know. Usually I am either blissfully unaware of pop music or I intentionally ignore it like the plague. In fact I told my therapist the other week that I almost pathologically ignore anything that is overly popular in society, whether that’s movies, music, TV shows, or books. It’s something that may or may not be healthy. Anyway, THIS time my curiosity got the better of me & I’m glad it did. Last week the song showed up on my YouTube recommendations- which is a bit odd because I still only know a grand total of three Miley Cyrus songs, the other two being five to ten years old at this point. And I certainly don’t listen to enough other pop music to trigger the pop algorithm. But in any case, it showed up & I was intrigued- but not enough to truly check it out. HOWEVER, after seeing so much about the song on social media, I couldn’t help doing a quick Google search on it to try to better understand the popularity of the song. That was enough to get me curious again & THEN I noticed that one of my favorite YouTube channels did a reaction video to the song. Considering I have a lot in common with the musical tastes of the guys who run the channel, I decided to watch their reaction video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6fkvQEEGds) & thus check out the song that way. As it turns out, I was just as enthralled by the genius of the song as they were. But I’m not sure that I love it for the same reasons everyone else does (or seems to).

I see a lot of people comparing this song to Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks (yeah, yeah, I know they go by simply The Chicks now but they’ll always be the Dixie Chicks to me), & while I can certainly see why that’s a tempting comparison, I’m not sure it’s actually as fitting as a lot of folks think. Now there are internet rumors that Miley filmed the Flowers video at a house where her ex-husband (Liam Hemsworth- I couldn’t have told you who her ex-husband was before last week) cheated on her with some 14 other women. While I haven’t done a deep dive, a cursory Google search tells me that Miley has explicitly stated that infidelity was NOT the reason for her & Liam’s divorce, so I’m inclined to say there’s nothing much to substantiate such rumors. Plus, if you really look at the lyrics, this to me is not actually a revenge song- & that’s why it’s so brilliant.

You see, the reason I love this song is that it encourages people (especially women) to have a healthy, fulfilling relationship with themselves first. As trite as it may sound, I truly believe that’s the only foundation for a stable, mature, fulfilling relationship with anyone else anyway. So if you don’t have that, all of your other relationships will suffer & perhaps fail altogether. I’ve never been a fan of Miley- in fact I struggle to think of her as anything other than the scantily clad girl who twerked with Robin Thicke a decade ago- but this song has made me read up on her a bit more & give her a lot more respect. For example, I think it was very insightful how she talked about her & Liam clinging to each other & jumping into marriage in the aftermath of the fire that burned down their house & realizing later that, while that may have seemed logical at the time, it didn’t actually erase all their prior issues or magically make their relationship healthy. Furthermore, I love that she acknowledges that even though their relationship wasn’t perfect, she still misses it at times. Now, isn’t that true for all of us? Whether it’s an ex-partner, a town where we used to live, or even a job, there are so many things & people in our lives that are ultimately toxic or hurtful, yet we still find ourselves missing them at times. That’s just human nature. And I think acknowledging that is incredibly important. Furthermore, Miley never tears down her ex in the song- in fact she says she forgives him for everything. Thus, I see this as a very mature way to heal from a relationship that was clearly imperfect but also very important in her life.

Now is it possible- as internet rumors tell us- that she chose the suit she wears towards the end of the video because it was Liam’s & he wore it at a movie premier where he rather cheekily told her to “behave for once”? Yes, that’s possible, & I can’t say I blame her (though, having watched the brief clip from that movie premier, I can’t totally blame him for what he said either). Is it also possible that she shows off her incredibly well toned body in the video in a sort of “Ha! See what you’re missing!” manner? Yes, that’s entirely possible also, & again, I can’t say I blame her.

While Flowers was clearly based on a romantic relationship, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the other reason I love it so much. The beauty of art- especially music- is that it can be interpreted in multiple ways, even ways that might not have been intended by the artist. So, while I cannot relate to this song in the sense of a failed marriage, I can relate to it in other ways. When I listen to it (& inevitably sing along), I’m not thinking about an ex-husband or partner who did me wrong. Instead I’m thinking about society in general (as well as certain people in particular) who have rejected me, ignored me, or generally told me I’m not good enough, disappointing, or otherwise not up to par. As much as I sometimes long for greater acceptance by certain groups or people or society in general, at the end of the day I have to remind myself that it’s MY conscience I have to sleep with at night. And if that means that in some areas of life I will always be a bit of an outsider, well- that’s ok.

After all, “I can buy myself flowers/Write my name in the sand/Talk to myself for hours/Say things you don’t understand/I can take myself dancing/And I can hold my own hand/Yeah, I can love me better than you can.

Now, don’t y’all worry- I haven’t gone totally soft. I’m still listening to plenty of the heavy stuff. In fact, just last night I discovered a new (to me) German metal band that I’m geeking out about. AND I’m counting down the days till I get to see Papa Roach & Falling in Reverse in a few weeks.

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