Miley Cyrus is on her promo game for her fantastic single “Midnight Sky” which, upon further reflection, is almost surely going to go down as one of the top pop singles of 2020.
After a standout performance at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards, featuring a grand finale self-REFERENCE in the form of a giant disco Wrecking Ball, as well as a killer rendition of the track for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge (plus a Billie Eilish cover!), Miley stopped by Joe Rogan‘s podcast to go deep – on her career, her divorce, the media, drugs, her dad, and just about everything in between.
The two-hour long conversation is more like an in-depth therapy session, as Miley touches what is surely just the tip of the iceberg of her insane experience as a child – including smoking weed and tripping on mushrooms at age 17 – to her own mega-famous father Billy Ray Cyrus putting her on his back on a dirt bike at age 2 and accidentally causing a head injury due to a fallen tree. (Don’t worry, she likes to regularly remind him he’s the Worst Dad Ever.)
For a former media-trained Disney princess, she really doesn’t hold back on the controversial topics: the two cover tons of ground, including her desire to write children’s books one day that don’t set unrealistic expectations about life and somehow touch on tough topics like drugs, why she couldn’t ever get high enough, entering into and exiting the world of veganism, being into “freaky things,” adopting her dog named Kate Moss that was “so ugly, they waived the adoption fee,” grappling with guilt for being famous at a young age, her sister Noah‘s “emo” music and dealing with being in Miley’s shadow, comparisons to unrealistic bodies on social media, as well as being affected by the public’s villainous narratives about her love life.
And also, her deep rasp: there’s plenty of talk about her gravelly voice which, as she describes, has “collected dirt.” (She also says her voice changed, and got better, after her house burned down in the California fires.)
Her life is crazy, which we knew, but now we know more: sliding into National Geographic‘s DMs and booking her own flights and hotel to go see spirit bears with her brother in 2015, faxing her godmother Dolly Parton, going on the road and partying too hard with Joan Jett and getting the personal blessing from Stevie Nicks to sample “Edge of Seventeen” on “Midnight Sky.”
She even talks RuPaul’s Drag Race, which gets pretty cringe watching Joe bro-ishly ask about the show, with Miley “yas queen“-ing away. There’s already a viral moment from the chat: when he attempts to drag drag queens (“they all do the same move!”), Miley sasses him right back: “that’s what I’m thinking when I’m watching your shows, all the same stuff.”
There was also some discussion about the double standards in the industry, and being “firm and kind” about creative choices, which could result in her being called a diva or bitch: “Okay, have The Weeknd come in here and say the same thing, or Kanye is a creative God. Why am I not getting that I’m a creative mastermind, but I’m becoming a bitch? No one would ever say that about Kanye West choosing what lighting he wants on a performance.”
She also says she doesn’t want to hear the stats, charts and views of her song because “she doesn’t want to get attached to success or numbers…and a lot of the time, it’s never good enough for me.” (And when it does get put in her face, it’s for the wrong song.)
Plus, some context for the disco ball this era – and it’s actually a great interpretation.
“The ‘Midnight Sky’ to me is like, if you’re really fucking partying, the moon is a disco ball and the stars are all the reflection of light on the ceiling. What I really like about the disco ball is that it’s a bunch of broken pieces put back together again – that when you’re finally enlightened, it makes this mesmerizing, totally attractive, like people…it’s like the bugs to the light. People love disco balls. But it’s really just a bunch of broken pieces put together, and so I felt that was reflective of me,” she says.
Miley also talked about her most recent VMAs performance – which a slight jab at the expense one of her idols, who remained top-of-mind throughout all of this conversation about the hazardous effects of fame.
“People are very visual…at the VMAs, they tried to get me to get rid of my microphone for something I’m going to be doing, and I said ‘Fuck no. What do you think? I can’t be Britney Spears with the headset and the snake. What’s important? I don’t want the snake. I don’t want the gag.'”
While I get her point of wanting to be taken seriously, it’s a little weird because her performance did end with a disco ball gag – although it could also be interpreted as reclaiming her own gag, I suppose. Either way – not totally sold on that particular comment.
Still! Humans are complex, hypocritical, nuanced creatures. And it’s easy to come into this with a prejudgment based on headlines, earlier versions of herself in the media, and certain Hollywood tropes, but as with anyone else, hearing Miley talk candidly for two hours about her life, there’s a new appreciation and added perspective about what makes her tick: her love life, her personal interests, her artistry – all of it.
At one point, Joe talked about the pitfalls of celebrity, and how corrupting and unnatural the general experience of fame is, and Miley talked about how much she’s been putting in the work to overcome the odds.
“I say with confidence that I could be the one. I don’t expect it to be easy. And I don’t want it to be…I want all the challenging things. If it’s something that’s easy, I don’t fucking want it. I never have, that’s why I didn’t keep living my life in Nashville, where we were the biggest fish in a small pond, I needed more,” she said.
“I’m really willing to do the work, and I’m willing to look at myself from a human level, and also look at what my body needs to thrive. And I know that it can’t be cocaine for me, and it can’t be alcohol. I know that unfortunately I love fucking fish, but at this point I gotta eat it to have my brain work…I think I would take that as something that makes me unique. I know there’s something special about me in my life, but I don’t feel that on this level of being human, that I’m different.”
If you’ve got the time and want to hear more about the unique experience of an incredibly famous 27-year-old still figuring it all out, dig in and watch/listen.