Miley Cyrus
6 mins read

Miley Cyrus Finally Receives Her “Flowers”

Miley Cyrus took the stage by storm at this year’s Grammys, reaffirming her star power. With her hair styled sky-high, she dazzled in a daring Maison Margiela Artisanal dress made from 14,000 gold safety pins, setting the tone for her five show-stopping outfits of the night. She delivered a powerful performance of “Flowers”, last year’s best-selling global single, in a shimmering vintage Bob Mackie ensemble. Exuding confidence, she tossed out playful remarks, asking the audience, “Why are you acting like you don’t know this song?” After changing into a one-shoulder sequined Gucci dress by Sabato De Sarno, the veteran singer accepted the Record of the Year award, her first Grammy win, with a candid and playful acknowledgment. “This award is incredible, but I hope it doesn’t change anything because my life was beautiful yesterday,” she quipped, before humorously admitting to going commando on music’s biggest night.

Cyrus is finally receiving industry recognition after years of being categorized: first as the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, then as a Disney teen idol, and later as a champion of unapologetic female sexuality. “No offense,” Cyrus stated, “but I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and this is my first time being taken seriously at the Grammys? I’ve struggled to understand the criteria, because if we’re talking stats and numbers, where was I? And if we’re talking cultural impact, where was I? This isn’t about arrogance. I’m proud of myself.”

Everything seems to be aligning for Cyrus. “II Most Wanted,” her duet with Beyoncé on COWBOY CARTER, recently became her 13th top-10 song. Nearly two decades after auditioning for Hannah Montana at age 13, she is set to become the youngest entertainer named a Disney Legend. Here, Cyrus discusses her drag persona, working out in heels, and balancing the line between being a pop icon and a private individual.

Your godmother, Dolly Parton, had this to say about you: “She never stops and is always in the loop with all the things pertaining to the business, records, and people I should know and work with.”

Dolly’s been like a mother to me. Actually, I was just reading this fax she sent me two Mother’s Days ago.

Dolly faxing is 100 percent part of my 9 to 5 fantasy.

No one else faxes. I have to use my lawyer’s office because they’re the only ones who can still receive a fax. Dolly wrote, “How much do I love you? As much as my heart can hold and as far as my arms can reach.” It makes me emotional. I just love her so much. Last Christmas, she gave me a whole mannequin, done in her proportions and wearing her outfit. It’s so major.

The “Flowers” performance at the Grammys has over 33 million views on YouTube. How does one prepare for that?

I wrote on a dream board that I wanted to show up to the Grammys with childlike confidence, like when a kid isn’t scared to dive into the deep end or do a backflip because they don’t know what’s on the other side. My 12-year-old self got to come out and play, while my 31-year-old self was in Bob Mackie with big hair.

Gucci’s Sabato De Sarno, your friend and collaborator, said that you’re a “volcano of creativity” who “takes you by the hand and makes you step into her world without you having the time to realize it.”

Sabato and I became close friends instantly. He’s one of those people who, whether I’m in a challenging or celebratory time, I can honestly call and feel heard and cared for, which is so rare in fashion. I always wear Gucci’s Flora fragrance. It’s become a part of my identity. You know how a certain smell can bring you back to your grandma’s house? Amidst chaos, it’s like I can smell who I am. My friends know I’ve been to their place because of the fragrance.

Not only do you smell good, but you’ve become quite the source of fitspiration on the Internet.

My lifestyle is extremely clean. Sobriety is a big part of it. My mantra is, like any athlete, “Practice how you perform.” So that’s why I practice in my heels. The gym looks really tough, but then I’ve got my ivory Gucci slingbacks because they remind me of Marilyn Monroe. I train in heels, mostly. I’m interested in feminizing the workout space because so much of the equipment is unattractive.

The heels never come off?

I was gonna say, I’m fully out of drag today. I definitely have a persona—an expanded, fully realized version of myself that I tap into as a performer. But then there’s a level of my life that’s super intimate, sacred, and secret. Sometimes I forget to talk about things that are a normal part of my day-to-day, like texting with Beyoncé. I think it’s a cute part of our relationship because, over the past few years, I’ve really clamped down on my privacy and on what I share with the public. She’s the same way. Part of our relationship is the safety between us. The songwriting or the work is just a small part of my relationship with her—or with Dolly, or anyone. Our personas have a relationship, but then we have a relationship. And I love that.

I think I need to start screaming “I am free!” more.

I love being an adult. I have a rule that I don’t look up or down at anyone. I just look, which allows me the clarity to see the world for what it is and people for who they are. I look at myself almost every day in the mirror and say, “I am a woman.” I’m 31 now, and I still don’t know if I want kids. I feel like my fans are my kids in a way. I’ve heard Dolly say that too, because she didn’t have kids.

You recently covered “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads. Surely, David Byrne must qualify as a mentor.

David—definitely, definitely a mentor. David and I are friends. On this particular cover, I experimented with the sounds for “Psycho Killer,” because that’s what Talking Heads and their records are about. I wanted it to sound like Kylie Minogue meets aggressive, industrial-dance dream pop. So this is definitely not a “Psycho Killer” anyone knows.

A cover is like a musical alter ego, which you understand better than most.

So, I would like to act again. But the role would really need to be right, since it’s hard for people to see past me and buy into a character. The character would either need to be an extension of myself or someone—or something—with a personality that can conquer mine. I would need a character that is bigger than me.

You’re being honored at this year’s Disney Legends Awards Ceremony for having “pushed the envelope of creativity, challenged conventional wisdom, and broken the restraints of the status quo.” Okay, Ms. Hannah Montana.

I’m down. It’s a place to celebrate the journey of both being on and graduating from Disney. It was a great, safe experience overall. People have 50- or 60-year-long careers, but mine has been close to 20 years, and I’m 31. I have been in the public for more of my life than I haven’t. They say that the creative adult is the child who survived. I worked really hard as a child. I didn’t go to prom. I didn’t go to dances. I didn’t have so much of that social experience or time for friends. Disney was doing very well off the amount of work I put in as a child. I don’t have any bad feelings about that. It’s just the truth. And so I think they have to give me this award. I’m excited to celebrate that with the fans. Something I wanted to talk about with you is celebration versus competition, because competition doesn’t interest me. I don’t think of other artists as opponents. Artists are not the same as athletes, playing a zero-sum game and keeping score. There isn’t a score in art.

Still, your recent wins seem long overdue. That must feel liberating, in a way.

I really wanted “Flowers” to be a celebration of bravery because I perform out of fear. I didn’t always have the fear of performing that I have now. But going from spending two years alone and seeing no more than one person a day during lockdown to knowing that millions of people watch the Grammys is a big shock to the nervous system. Anyone who’s ever put themselves in a position to be observed or judged is brave. It doesn’t matter if it’s eight or eight million people—that fear is there. Before I went onstage, right as that curtain was about to lift, I was screaming at the top of my lungs, “I am free!” When I was 20 or 21, it might have sounded more like, “I don’t care what people think. I’m just being me.”

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