WRECKING BALL by MILEY CYRUS
Cyrus had no part in writing this song, but there was very real emotion behind it: she was going through problems in her relationship with the actor Liam Hemsworth, and the couple would split up not long after.
Some songwriters write specifically for an artist and try to relate it to her specific circumstance, but that wasn't the case here. The lyric was written by the Detroit singer-songwriter MoZella (Maureen Anne McDonald), who also co-wrote Fergie's "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)" with Goonrock for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby movie. MoZella had just gone through a devastating breakup and channeled that into the song. It happened to sync perfectly with what Cyrus was going through: giving your all for love, but getting wrecked in return.
This was written in two parts. The musical underpinnings for the chorus came from a writing session with MoZella and guitarist, songwriter and producer Kiyanu Kim at his New York City studio. The song then came together in a single songwriting session that took place September 24, 2012 among MoZella, Sacha Skarbek and Stephan Moccio. Skarbek is a British songwriter who played a key role in the development of James Blunt, including co-penning the Worldwide #1 hit, "You're Beautiful"; Moccio is a Canadian composer whose credits include Celine Dion's 2002 hit "A New Day Will Come" and Nikki Yanofsky's official theme of CTV's 2010 Winter Olympics coverage "I Believe."
In our interview with Moccio, he explained: "MoZella was extremely emotional that day. She was very frail because she had broken off her wedding during that week. She almost didn't end up making the session. 'Wrecking Ball' in every way is about MoZella's toxic relationship and then the courage to say, 'I can't go through with this.'" So here we are, Sacha and I holding this girl together who was just very emotional, trying to comfort her."
"We all wanted a strong metaphor as a title and we were just throwing out words," he added. "I remember kind of shyly putting up my hand and saying, 'What about 'Wrecking Ball'?' And Sacha went, 'Yeah, 'Wrecking Ball,' that sounds good.' And MoZella kind of ran with that. It's when she got the line, 'I came in like a wrecking ball.' It was real collaborative."
This song was written for Beyoncé, but when it was finished, MoZella suggested she send the demo to Cyrus, deeming her a better fit. MoZella had been working on some other songs for Cyrus, so she was albe to get her ear. When Cyrus heard it, she loved the song.
This big emotional breakup ballad was released as a promotional single from Miley Cyrus' Bangerz album on August 25, 2013. It immediately rolled up to #2 on the iTunes sales chart in the aftermath of Cyrus' controversial MTV VMA performance joining "We Can't Stop" in the Top Five.
The American hitmaker Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), who has written and produced for Katy Perry, Rihanna and Britney Spears, produced this track along with Cirkut (Henry Russell Walter), a Canadian producer who works for Dr. Luke's production company.
Dr. Luke and Cirkut also got songwriting credits for their efforts. The pair previously linked up with Cyrus when they produced the will.i.am track, "Fall Down," for which the former Disney star provided vocals.
Cyrus told Billboard magazine that she was excited about being able to show off her vocal chops on this power ballad. "A lot of people wanted to try to make me the white Nicki Minaj," she said. "That's not what I'm trying to do. I love 'hood' music, but my talent is as a singer."
Curus added: "We were inspired by OneRepublic, and the way Timbaland used to do those big ballads."
The song's music video was directed by fashion photographer Terry Richardson, who photographed Cyrus for the September 2013 issue of Harper's Bazaar. The clip begins with a close-up of the singer standing in front of a completely white backdrop and shedding a single tear while performing the song, recalling Sinead O'Connor's iconic "Nothing Compares 2 U" visual. The video becomes more contentious as we see the former Disney star sitting naked on top of a wrecking ball and licking a sledgehammer amidst scenes of her demolishing a three-walled cinder block room.
Cyrus told New York's Z100 radio station that her fans need to understand that there is more to the racy visual than her riding around on a swinging wrecking ball naked and suggestively licking a sledgehammer. "I think the video is much more, if people get past the point that I'm naked and you actually look at me you can tell that I actually look more broken then even the song sounds," she said. "The song is a pop ballad. It's one of these songs that everyone is going to relate to, everyone has felt that feeling at one point."
Cyrus added that the filming of her singing straight to camera as a tear runs down her cheek proved to be a challenge. "If people can take their minds out of the obvious and go into their imagination a little bit and see kind of what the video really means and the way it's so vulnerable and actually if you look in my eyes I look more sad then my voice sounds on the record it was a lot harder to do the video then it was to record the songs," she said. "It was much more of an emotional experience."
Cyrus swung her way to a one day record for views across VEVO, as her video for this song accumulated 19.3 million views in its first 24 hours. The previous milestone was held by One Direction whose "Best Song Ever" attracted 12.3 views in one day in July 2013.
After peaking at #2 twice on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Party in the U.S.A." and "We Can't Stop," Cyrus finally hit #1 with this song.
The song's elevation to peak position meant that Cyrus became the first member of her family to reach #1 on the Hot 100. Her father Billy Ray peaked at #4 with "Achy Breaky Heart" in 1992 and brother Trace climbed to #10 as part of Metro Station with "Shake It" in 2008.
Cyrus performed the track live for the first time during a four-song performance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival Village in Las Vegas on September 21, 2013.
Cyrus told Rolling Stone that the tear she sheds in the video was real - "My dog just passed away," she explained.
This was the first song called "Wrecking Ball" to hit the US Hot 100, but the phrase had been picking up momentum in the musical universe. Other acts who had seized the metaphor as a way to express figurative destruction include Lifehouse, whose "Wrecking Ball" came in 2010, and Bruce Springsteen, who used the title for his 2012 album and its title track. Also in 2012, Aubrey O'Day released a song with that name, and Jack's Mannequin gave us "Wrecking Ball Heart."
The close-up shot of Cyrus shedding a tear in the video was evocative of the 1990 Sinead O'Connor hit "Nothing Compares 2 U," where the Irish singer also cries what she claimed was a real tear. Speaking with Rolling Stone, Cyrus said of the "Wrecking Ball" video: "It's like the Sinead O'Connor video, but, like, the most modern version."
This statement prompted O'Connor to post an "open letter" on her website expressing concern that Cyrus was being "pimped," and was obscuring her talent. Sinead urged her not to let the music business "make a prostitute of you," adding, "Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited."
O'Connor also made reference to Cyrus licking a sledgehammer in this song's video and swinging naked on a metal demolition ball. "I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief," she wrote, "that it is in any way 'cool' to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. Please, in future, say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself."
Cyrus reacted by calling attention to O'Connor's history of mental illness and public meltdowns by means of a screengrab of several tweets O'Connor sent out in the past asking for mental help and prescription medication, as well as comparing her to another celebrity with mental health issues, actress Amanda Bynes.
O'Connor did not take kindly to the reply and her response was to pen a second open letter, referring to Cyrus as "a danger to women" and threatening her with legal action over her "bullying" tweet.
Cyrus cut off communication with two more Tweets, the first explaining that she was too busy to write a letter as she would be appearing on Saturday Night Live (a show O'Connor was banned from for tearing up a picture of the pope on her appearance), and the second stating, "if youd like to meet up and talk lemme know in your next letter. :)"
This won Best Video at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards. Cyrus celebrated her award by lighting up a joint and taking a puff onstage. The event was held in Amsterdam, where marijuana smokers can't be prosecuted for possessing small amounts.
The song swung back to the #1 position on the Hot 100 after a nine week gap in December 2013 thanks to the viral popularity of a parody video by YouTuber comedian Stephen Kardynal. The nine-week wait for a second reign was the longest in the tally's history for a song in one chart run. Chubby Checker's "The Twist" led in 1960 and again in 1962 but that was over two different chart runs.
Miley's mom, Tish, is a fan. She tweeted: "Wrecking Ball could be my favorite song EVER!!! I've been listening to it for months on end and I NEVER get tired of it! Blows me away"
The visual won Video of the Year at the 2014 MTV Video Awards. Miley put a spotlight on homelessness when her award was accepted on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless American youths by former homeless Los Angeles youngster, Jesse Helt. He then directed fans to an appeal for donations to fund a new LA homeless center on Miley's Facebook page.
While everyone else was sure that "Wrecking Ball" would become a hit, Dr. Luke wasn't. In fact, he told Cyrus that if he was wrong and the song did top the charts, he would buy her a state-of-the-art Numi toilet like his own, which includes wireless Bluetooth music sync capability and a heated seat and foot warmer. "Contrary to what he thinks," Cyrus told John Seabrook, author of The Sound Machine: Inside the Hit Factory, "Dr. Luke isn't always right. Now he has to buy me a $10,000 toilet. I'll be thinking of him every time I go."
Now she is older and wiser, Miley admits that she cringes at video's concept. "That's something you can't take away, swinging around naked on a wrecking ball lives forever," she told The Zach Sang Show in May 2017. "Once you do that (in the way) that I did, it's forever. I'm never living that down. I will always be the naked girl on a wrecking ball... (And) I just licked the sledgehammer."
"I should've thought (about) how long that was going to follow me around," Cyrus added. "My worst nightmare is that being played at my funeral... 'We'll always remember Miley' and then that."
WE CAN'T STOP by MILEY CYRUS
This is the lead single from Miley Cyrus' fourth studio album. The song was produced by Mike WiLL Made It, who has also worked with Gucci Mane, Rick Ross, Kanye West, Rihanna and Kelly Rowland.
Cyrus told E! News the song is dedicated to her fans, the people who have never stopped believing in her. She said: "I feel like this song really is for them and how I feel, that I can't stop and I'm going to be who I am and they should be who they are and that they can't stop and no one can stop us."
Cyrus added: "It really is an inspiring song for my fans. We don't care, we can do what we want."
Cyrus debuted the song on Ryan Seacrest's radio show on June 3, 2013. She told the DJ that the tune reflects her current lot in life. "I think I keep getting more connected with a sound that's my own. I love making music, so I've just been in the studio working," she said. "Everyone always judges. They say what they want. My fans [are] this group that's always stood by me. This song says where I am in my life right now."
The lyric "And everyone in line in the bathroom. Trying to get a line in the bathroom" has surprised some of Cyrus' fans as it appears to be referencing cocaine. "Its a point-of-view record, so she never said that she was standing in the line in the bathroom, trying to get her line in the bathroom. She said everyone in line in the bathroom, trying to get a line in the bathroom," Mike Will explained to MTV News. "So I mean there's different party. You got some parties where people might dance with Molly. You got some parties where people might be doing lines... A party is a party. It's like a point-of-view. So I wasn't at the exact party that made her connect with the record, so I can't really tell you whoever she's talking about. It's not her. It's really like a point-of-view record."
The producer added that Cyrus was inspired by some real-life events she witnessed for herself. "When she heard this song, what made her connect to this song is it reminded her of a specific party, a specific party where she was at," he said. "If you listen to the lyrics, it's not really her saying like she's in the bathroom getting a [line]; it's like everyone's in line in the bathroom trying to get a [line] in the bathroom. You know what I'm saying?"
"And then it's like 'All my home girls here with the big butts...' you know what I'm saying,?" he continued. "She's saying real stuff. It's all real. So it's not like her trying to force anything or anything like that. It's like speaking from experience. It's like a point-of-view record."
The song was originally intended for Rihanna. "When I originally worked on 'We Can't Stop,' we had did it for Rihanna. The idea was more towards Rihanna," Mike WiLL Made It told MTV News. "Rihanna, she heard 'Pour It Up' right away, and she didn't even hear 'We Can't Stop.'"
After he'd finished working on Rihanna's Unapologetic album, Mike Will switched his attention to Cyrus, and when Sony first heard the song, the label decided it was "perfect" for the pop star. "They played it for her, she liked it, so I thought we were just gonna knock out one record," he said. "But we ended up going in and caught a good vibe. She's real cool, a regular person."
The song's vague references to drugs use and strip clubs raised some eyebrows but Miley maintained to Billboard magazine that it is her right to talk about issues she has experienced first-hand no matter how controversial the subject matter. 'I'm 20 years old and I want to talk to the people that are up all night with their friends,' she said. 'It's based on a true story of a crazy night I had: When I heard the song for the first time, it captured exactly what I was living."
Mike WiLL Made It described this to Billboard magazine as, "like a mature version of 'Party in the U.S.A..'" He added: "That's even how I described it when I presented it to Rihanna, before I'd even met Miley."
The song's house party-themed music video was directed by Diane Martel, who also helmed the clip for Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." It was filmed in Los Angeles, California, during the last week of May 2013. The button-pushing visual served as a major contribution in the rebranding of Cyrus as the former Disney star throws a crazy house party. "I think the indirect message is to be free," said Martel in an interview with Celebuzz. "Miley has a very open mind and, like the lovely kids born with the internet as their companion, she's got a wealth of references to play with. We spoke at first about intimacy between friends, but I think the video is more about her intimacy with her audience. She's very playful and silly in the video. She's not self-serious and boorish like so many singers."
The video features a number of surreal surprises, including a French fry skull, taxidermy animals, sandwiches made out of dollar bills, Cyrus making out with a doll, and the severing of fingers that then bleed pink. Mantel explained to Celebuzz: "Miley found a photo online of the French fry skull and sent it to me," she said. "It was a beautiful French fry skull. We were inspired by it and recreated it our own way. After we filmed we found out that it was created by a fine artist named Christopher Chiappa.
The taxidermy was something Miley mentioned early on, and my fabulous art director, Georgia Walker, found in a smarmy prop shop. The lyric with the multiple taxidermy deer image is very touching. It almost makes us cry when we see that shot.
The doll is a weird reference to a Helmet Newton photo. I worked on the idea with a friend, Aramis Isreal, who is a creative director and has worked on a lot of successful ads. We gathered a lot of blogged images and worked them into the short list.
The bread was my idea, bread/cash, etc. And I have a background in performance art, so a lot of the stuff came from the corners of my mind.
The cut off fingers came about when we were on location scouting in the kitchen and I said, 'oh someone has to cut off their fingers.' I grew up on Devo and John Waters, so that might inform some of this stuff."
The song's video became the fastest to 100 million views on VEVO. The clip reached the milestone just 37 days after its original premiere. In doing so it broke the record previously held by Eminem and Rihanna's "Love The Way You Lie," which tallied up 100 million views in 39 days back in 2010.
Georgia-native Mike WiLL Made It wasn't much acquainted with Cyrus' music but he was familiar with father Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart." The producer approached the session with few preconceived notions. "Me and Miley just clicked," he told Billboard magazine. "She has good ideas. She's real creative. Her whole thing is she's getting older so her sound is evolving, but she doesn't want to reach too far. 'We Can't Stop' has so many different vibes to it. She sounds country; the beat has these live, knocking drums; and then it has these pop melodies. It's a feel-good record."
Miley Cyrus made her VMA debut in 2013 when she emerged from the belly of a giant teddy bear to perform this song. Following her steamy performance of the tune, the former Disney star was then joined onstage by Robin Thicke as she stripped off to a flesh-colored bra and panties and sung Pharrell Williams' parts on "Blurred Lines." Scathing reviews of her highly sexual performance, which also involved twerking and a giant foam finger, flooded Twitter. Lady Antebellum, for instance, tweeted: "do you think Billy Ray Cyrus woke up with an achy breaky heart this morning after his little girl's performance at the VMAs last night."
Miley, however was upbeat about the amount of attention her frolics received on the social networking website. "Smilers! My VMA performance had 306.000 tweets per minute. That's more than the blackout or Superbowl! #fact.," she tweeted.
MALIBU by MILEY CYRUS
Named after the California beach community where Miley Cyrus resides, this is a love song about her fiancé, Liam Hemsworth.
I never would've believed you if three years ago you told me I'd be here writing this song
But here I am, next to you, the sky so blue, in Malibu
"They're going to talk about me if I come out of a restaurant with Liam," Cyrus explained to Billboard magazine. "So why not put the power back in my relationship and say, 'This is how I feel'?"
Cyrus wrote the song on the way to a taping of The Voice. "I drive myself everywhere, but that day I decided to Uber," she recalled. "I was trying not to sing out loud because someone else was in the car."
Though on the surface, the song is about Cyrus' blissful life with Liam Hemsworth, she pointed out to Carson Daly on 97.1 AMP Radio that there's a deeper meaning behind the lyrics.
"It's definitely about love. If that's how it is, that's what it is, but it's saying 'you brought me here and I'm happy that you did,'" she explained. "Next, 'cuz now I'm as free as birds catchin' the wind.' Because now, I'm not locked in the Hollywood grid where I can't escape everyone. We had a drone in my freakin' backyard one time because people didn't want to give me any privacy and I can't live like that…and now, I've found this freedom of being able to say – I think people respect my privacy more because I've created boundaries."
ADORE YOU by MILEY CYRUS
This power ballad finds Cyrus declaring her love for her beau. She croons:
"I could do this for eternity, you and me
We're meant to be in holy matrimony
God knew exactly what he was doing
When he led me to you."
This is one of the few Bangerz tracks on which Miley does not score a co-writing credit, so any thoughts that it was written about her ex fiancee Liam Hemsworth can be discounted.
The song was penned by the Brooklyn singer-songwriter Stacy Barthe, whose other credits include Katy Perry's "Hummingbird Heartbeat" and Rihanna's "Cheers (Drink To That)." It was produced by Oren Yorl, who helmed much of Asher Roth's Asleep In The Bread Aisle album.
The steamy video is a five-minute long selfie as we view Cyrus in her underwear writhing and simulating masturbation under bed sheets. We also get to see the singer posing suggestively in an overflowing bathtub while wearing a black lace playsuit.
An official remix by Cedric Gervais was released on March 3, 2014. French DJ Cedric Gervais is best known for his dance remix of Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness," which was a worldwide hit.
BB TALK by MILEY CYRUS
This song finds Miley Cyrus getting personal as she delivers foul-mouthed spoken-word verses about an overly affectionate lover. The track was produced by Oren Yoel, who first worked with Cyrus' on the Bangerz number "Adore You."
Yoel recalled to Fader: "She sent me in the track back and I listened to it in my living room. It's so personal and knowing her on a personal level, this feels like her when she talks. It's so effortless. I sent her the track and she wrote that thing."
"This track was kind of crazy it took me a couple listens. My girl is such a good soundboard for me if something's hot, she's like 'this is really, really cute' and I was like, 'okay dope.' I never know. It's hard for me to judge my own s--t and hopefully it's dope. That's why I do everything 110%."
The out-there music video was co-directed by Miley Cyrus. It features her portraying a baby that is modeling a diaper, playing in a cot and with a rubber duck on a bath, throwing food sitting in a high chair and to round things off smoking a baby bottle - yep a baby bottle bong!
Billboard magazine asked Miley why she calls out a man on this song for his baby talking.
"Dating a musician [like me] is probably the worst thing ever, because you always end up having your s--t in songs," she replied. "It's just inevitable. But I'm just that way. I'm a little bit boyish. But I can also be super femme and dress as a bunny rabbit. Who I'm with has nothing to do with sex - I'm super open, pansexual, that's just me."