by Hailey Harris (’24) | February 3, 2023
On January 13, Miley Cyrus ended her three-year hiatus and released a brand new single. The song “Flowers” marks Cyrus’ return to the music scene; she has since announced a new album, Endless Summer Vacation, set to release this spring. In typical pop star fashion, there has been no shortage of drama surrounding the song’s subject and lyrics. However, “Flowers” also marks Cyrus’ pivot into pop music from rock, country, and hip hop, and exemplifies the rising trend of more personal songwriting.
Unsurprisingly, “Flowers” is another instant hit by Cyrus. The song broke Spotify’s record for most streams in a single week. A mix of R&B and funky disco pop, the instrumentals stand out from those of other artists. Opening with a string section, the song starts slow and gives way to a powerful beat and memorable rhythm in the chorus.
One especially notable aspect of the song, though, is that it seems to be a direct response to Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man.” While Mars regretfully croons, “I should’ve bought you flowers…Should’ve given you all my hours…’Cause all you wanted to do was dance,” Cyrus purposefully responds to each statement with one of empowerment: “I can buy myself flowers…Talk to myself for hours…I can take myself dancing.” Cyrus’ core message is that she is happier on her own and can love herself a lot better than somebody else can. Mirroring the lyrics of another popular song really resonated with listeners, and there has in fact been a rise of this specific kind of responsive songwriting in recent years.
For example, a month before Cyrus released her new song, artist Lana Del Rey released “Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd,” which is also the lead single on an upcoming album. The song references other hit songs such as “Hotel California” by the Eagles. Similarly, Sabrina Carpenter composed a song assumed to reference the famous “blonde” line in Olivia Rodrigo’s record-breaking song “drivers license.” Echoing songs is likely to become more popular, as it paints another side of the story for some listeners and gives songs even more depth.
However, beyond its lyrical importance, “Flowers” is also more evidence of Cyrus’ genre-bending musical career. Originally starting in country music, Cyrus has extensively experimented with grunge rock, hip hop, and pure pop. “Flowers” is a distinctive combination of pop and music of previous decades. The song ushers in a new era of Cyrus’ music, which differs from her last album from over three years ago. The new Cyrus seems to be more personal and raw rather than vengeful. Cyrus’ x-factor is an authenticity to herself in every song, despite the transformative aesthetic makeovers of all her discography.
“Flowers” is just the first of many new tracks from Cyrus, and her upcoming album appears promising. Make sure to keep an eye out for Endless Summer Vacation on March 10 to hear more of Cyrus and the positive, feel-good vibes that her music is sure to provide!
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