The 20 greatest Miley Cyrus singles ranked, from See You Again to Flowers
My best friend Lesley said ‘Oh, he’s just ranking Miley’
Miley Cyrus did the impossible. Breaking out from the Disney child star mould into a credible pop career is a triumph that happens once in a blue moon – and to only the most superstar talents. Miley Cyrus is a superstar talent. Whether she’s acting or belting out covers or originals in her distinctive and unmatched vocals, you can’t take your eyes off her. I love that she’s done whatever the hell she wants over the artistic growth of her career. Sex positive, a queer ally, icon and trailblazer – she’s one of the best talents in the industry. And if you need any proof of that, here are the 20 best Miley Cyrus singles ranked to confirm it to you.
20. Younger Now
Something about Younger Now just really takes me there. The opening guitar, the rain sounds, the “Feels like I just woke up” intro lyrics. The title track from nobody’s favourite Miley album is one of her most underrated, I’d say. There’s a wholesome warmth to it that whilst sometimes felt forced on the record’s deep cuts feels organic and cosy here.
19. Angels Like You
God, Plastic Hearts was an era wasn’t it!? I believe the professional term is “a wow!” Third single Angels Like You is anthemic soft rock song detailing a doomed relationship in which Cyrus puts herself at fault for a relationship that’s barely taken off. It’s gorgeously written and continues Miley’s trend of having a moving ballad amongst the bangers she chooses as singles for each era.
18. Don’t Call Me Angel
I will passionately die on the hill that Don’t Call Me Angel is a great song. Sue me! I don’t CARE that Lana’s part is a complete vibe shift. I love and welcome the chaos. I love the video, I love all three artists and it’s a weird bop that albeit divisive remains a talking point. Miley steals the show for me – her growling vocals suiting the production perfectly. If one artist in this trio could do the whole song solo, it’s Miley.
17. Start All Over
I’m sorry, but Miley Cyrus has always been a rock star. She has rock chops, and I won’t hear a word against that statement. Start All Over is quite the snarling guitar lead track for a 15 year old to be growling out, and Miley sells it like she’s been touring arenas and stadiums her whole life. A bit of a masterpiece.
16. Can’t Be Tamed
There’s something so cathartic about listening to an 18-year-old Miley Cyrus burst out of the Can’t Be Tamed gate, growling like a seasoned pro hardened from the industry. Its Miley’s first truly rebellious track, and neither her last or her very best. But what Can’t Be Tamed is is an instant exercise in maturity in the way songs like I’m A Slave 4 U and Dirrty have been for Britney and Christina before her. Every Disney evolution needs one.
15. On A Roll
Miley starring as trapped pop star Ashley O in Black Mirror spawned On A Roll, a reinvention of Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like a Hole reimagined as an Invisible Men produced dance-pop banger. I’m not sure if Black Mirror or Miley had intended On A Roll to become so beloved on Twitter that a full single release was demanded for it, but it happened, and it’s irresistible.
14. 7 Things
As good of a Nick Jonas diss track the world could ever hope for! Allegedly! I remember the first time I heard 7 Things – Miley was doing it live on The X Factor. She was full of star quality and honestly you’d be hard pressed to find anyone as good at pop rock as her. Deserves its place as one of the greatest ranked Miley Cyrus singles purely for the stupidity of rhyming “eyes” with “your old Levi’s”.
Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa had as good a 2020 as a pop star could hope for. Both were releasing the best music of their career to critical acclaim and commercial success. A genius move, then, for the two to come together on the outstanding Prisoner. It’s a collaboration that feels weighted equally – no outdoing each other, just complimenting and lifting each other up in pop excellence. It’s the perfect fusion of Future Nostalgia and Plastic Hearts. A thunderous blast from start to finish – and would get ranked as one of the best Dua Lipa singles as much as it is Miley Cyrus singles.
12. The Climb
Pure, unadulterated and glorious cheese. Melodrama. Could be a High School Musical song, honestly. If The X Factor want to use it as a winner’s single for Joe piggin’ McElderry you know you’ve made as cliched a motivational ballad as you could muster. But you know what? It’s excellent. It’s a cultural moment in time – a ballad everyone knows from your nan to your nephew. It’s pastiche, but Miley sells the absolute hell of it and it’s absolutely a staple.
There was some critical consensus that Malibu was contrived, a pale attempt at an image softening that lacked authenticity. It was branded as “too breezy” – but that take is boring. It is breezy. It’s blissful. It’s a summer day in your garden. I believe every word she sings on Malibu – even if its Liam Hemsworth inspired lyrical content ended in tears. In that moment, when she sang this, she was the happiest woman in the world. Special shout out goes to the up the octave belting of the final chorus that’s turned down in the mix of the studio version, but that she absolutely DEMOLISHES live. One of the best Miley Cyrus singles, I’ve ranked it better than The Climb and I’d do it again. End of.
10. Who Owns My Heart
Full Miley Cyrus electropop album when? Urgently please, I beg! Who Owns My Heart is camp. It’s sinister. It’s theatrical. It’s Miley does Gaga synthy production. The twinkling and stirring pre chorus is one of my favourite Miley musical moments ever. “Who owns my heart, is it love or is it art?” is the perfect level of nonsense pop chorus songwriting and a memorable hook. Her vocals on the bridge are a masterpiece and the “we’re like living aAaAaAart” in the second verse thrills me more than you could ever know!
For her latest era, Miley Cyrus held back. Flowers is a restrained ode to self love, and this switch up paid off for Miley commercially. It’s her biggest debut single ever, breaking Spotify first week streaming records and managing to usurp Adele’s Easy On Me – no mean feat. If I was Liam Hemsworth and heard this I’d probably evaporate into dust. I wish she belted the chorus more but it’s a song that gets a little more special every time you hear it – which is what you need for longevity. Bring on the album.
8. We Can’t Stop
I know the world loves to chuck out the term cultural reset, but We Can’t Stop was a cultural reset. I was in my first year of sixth form, and honestly the world I lived in was at a standstill. Everyone was watching the video on their iPhone 4s in the canteen at college. It was the house party anthem for a generation of people not quite old enough to get into a club yet. It’s the theme tune of borrowing the ID of someone in your year who looks barely even like you. It has the most special of places in my heart.
A reinvention like no other. The haircut that changed the world.
7. Mother’s Daughter
Honestly, I felt alive when Miley was teasing She Is Coming – the first EP of an intended trilogy that would eventually make up a now shelved album called She Is Miley Cyrus. She Is Coming is a bit of a jumble sale, the less we say about the cursed RuPaul feature on Cattitude the better. But Mother’s Daughter shines out like a diamond – a dirty, grimy track that feels like it’s being blasted out of the witchy bayou mentioned in its second verse. It’s anthemic – and the video just propelled it even further in its own excellence.
6. Midnight Sky
Midnight Sky is a showstopper from start to finish. You knew it was going to be as soon as Miley started teasing the iconic single artwork – shining out like a glam rocker from the 70s and 80s. In many ways, it feels like the lead single she was born to make – a swirling and epic synthy masterpiece, inspired by Edge of Seventeen and endorsed by Stevie herself. It’s a song that I knew the first second I heard it that I’d be loving for years to come. Modern classic.
5. Party in the USA
A Jessie J penned song detaling Miley Cyrus moving from Tennessee to LA? Sure! Let’s do it! Party in the USA is ridiculous and has no right working as perfectly as it does, but it’s a song that defines the late 00s like nothing else. It feels like a theme tune when I press play on it, even though I’ve been to the USA only once when I was seven and attended a grand total of zero parties. But Party in the USA makes me feel like I rocked out at all of them, and that’s iconic. The Britney song was indeed on.
4. Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
At the end of November 2018, when every music fan and critic in the world was putting the finishing touches on their end of year lists, up shows Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus with Nothing Breaks Like A Heart – arguably the best song of that year and unquestionably one of the best singles of either of their careers. A meticulous and glorious fusion of disco and country – it’s a shimmering driving anthem that feels like you’ve known it your whole life after one listen. So, so, so special.
3. See You Again
I mean, if you’re going to have a first single, you want it to sound like this, don’t you? Bizarre, ominous and outrageously excellent – See You Again is a flurry of drama, passion and lyrics that are pure brilliance even when they have absolutely no right to be. “I st-st-stuttered when you asked me what I’m thinking bout” makes me smile every time I hear it, and “My best friend Lesley said oh she’s just being Miley” practically makes me laugh aloud. It’s so bloody good. See You Again is everything ranked Miley Cyrus singles should aspire to be. It’s everything pop music should be, on that note. Loud, personal and a little bit stupid.
2. Slide Away
Sometimes you need breakup songs to be destructive, but sometimes you need them to be a healer. Slide Away is the latter. It feels like the pop music equivalent of therapy – and that’s for Miley herself as much as it us. Released in the wake of her and Liam’s divorce and in the aftermath of their Malibu home burning down in the wildfires of 2018, Slide Away just feels devastating. “Once upon a time it was made for us, woke up one day and it’d turned to dust” is lyricism that’s as heartbreaking as it is beautiful.
Slide Away is Miley Cyrus for grown ups – and that’s not to discredit her teenpop excellence, but to highlight how much she’s grown as a performer and a songwriter. It’s a testament to her versatility. Her live album, Attention, that dropped last week’s tracklist is proof that she’s a talent who can balance her old with her new with ease. Slide Away is the pinnacle of modern day Miley. It takes my breath away every time I hear it.
1. Wrecking Ball
Wrecking Ball is the perfect culmination of everything Miley Cyrus is: a pop superstar and a provocateur. She can ride naked on a wrecking ball and get Conservative chins wagging into an angry flap, but the music and the vocals are so good that she will always come out on top. It’s got Madonna levels of trailblazing pop culture power. Listening now, approaching 10 years later, Wrecking Ball still sounds both as fragile and as destructive as it did when the world first heard it.
It broke records globally when it debuted, and it was a time where Miley Cyrus truly had the world in the palm of her hand. It’s a song that defined the decade as much as it did her career, and since its release she’s only used its excellence to build on her artistic visions and become an act the music industry would be infinitely worse without.
Listen to a playlist of the 20 ranked best Miley Cyrus singles here.