Miley Cyrus is a mastermind of covers. I'm known to queue up her rendition of "Lilac Wine" from 2012 when I'm in a certain mood, her "Don't Dream It's Over" collab with Ariana Grande is a magnet for joy, and more recently, her cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" at the iHeartRadio Music Festival on 20 Sept. has been the cause of much conversation.
It's no secret that Cyrus is a talented performer; her many years in the industry have taught me as much. Yet, for some reason, this specific cover sent me straight to my group texts, where I sent the clip to anyone who'd listen. Yes, even my team at work got a random Slack message from me saying "Guys, this Miley cover is so good!" And I'm not alone in this obsession. Her performance broke over 6 million views on Twitter, the audio is trending on TikTok, and Cyrus is now considering dropping the cover on streaming services. So, why are we all freaking out about this performance in particular?
After almost a week of listening to this cover on the daily — hey, I'm not afraid to admit it — I think it comes down to seeing Cyrus fully in her element. I'll admit I'm not a dedicated listener to her more recent music, but I've observed the different eras she's gone through in the last decade. She's gotten in touch with her country roots, dabbled in pop rap, and now, on the cusp of a rock era, she's giving us a Blondie moment.
A "Heart of Glass" performance isn't for the faint of heart, and yet, Cyrus's voice fits almost serendipitously well into the room-shaking belts required for such a song. She seems comfortable and confident in a space where so many would back away. The lyrics speak of love and loss, two things Cyrus has to publicly navigate at 27. How does a heart of glass stay intact? She'd know better than most.
Her blond shaggy haircut and dramatic makeup are a clear tribute to lead singer Debbie Harry, and yet, at the same time, it's an entire look that is inextricable from Cyrus herself. Maybe that's what makes her cover such an intoxicating experience. You're watching a woman fully embrace something old and something new: the power of the past and the promise of her own future.