From Disneymania To The Backyard Sessions: Miley’s Career In Cover Songs
Everyone loves hearing their favorite musician cover another act’s song — it gives us a chance to hear the artist take on a different sound, done in a totally new way.
Few musicians have perfected the art of the cover song like Miley Cyrus. When she was still just a Disney-fied pop princess, her cover performances let us know there was a vocal powerhouse hiding underneath that Hannah Montana wig. During her more hip hop-tinged years, her covers suggested a rock ‘n’ roll sound was still in her future. Now with the upcoming rock album Plastic Hearts on the way (and a Metallica cover album in the works), the 27-year-old has fully embraced the harder edges of her voice.
While promoting her Stevie Nicks-sampling single Midnight Sky, she performed a slew of covers so consistently brilliant that the Internet was begging for more — so she gave it to us, by reviving her beloved Backyard Sessions. In honor of the Cover Queen’s full-blown return, here’s some of Miley’s best covers from every stage of her career.
Part Of Your World (2007)
Miley may have become the queen of covers in her post-Disney era, but let’s give credit where credit is due. The Disneymania albums were the definitive cover compilations for early 2000s kids. This song may not have the rich, refined quality of the adult pop star, but baby Miley brings some 7 Things flavor to this Little Mermaid classic that makes it delightful to revisit.
No list of Miley’s covers would be complete without mentioning Jolene. This cover, from her original Backyard Sessions, converted many a new fan, proving that she was more than just Hannah Montana. And of course, it’s a fitting tribute to her real-life godmother, Dolly Parton.
Summertime Sadness (2013)
BBC’s Live Lounge is a great showcase for covers, so of course it’s a place Miley shines (her recent take on Billie Eilish’s my future is further proof). This sultry Lana Del Rey crooner suited Cyrus perfectly.
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High (2014)
MTV’s Unplugged is another legendary stage for artists to debut covers, and Miley owned it with this Arctic Monkeys take. The Bangerz era leaned further into the hip-hop scene, but this song hints at the sexy rock and roll style she’d favor later. Her wailing vocal over the chorus is a pure knockout and beloved by many a TikTok teen.
50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (2015)
Miley brought this cover out for the Happy Hippie revival of her Backyard Sessions, but she first debuted it in a coveted performance slot on Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Special (with the song’s writer and SNL legend Paul Simon in the audience, no less!). The Happy Hippie era allowed her to explore a variety of genres and perform with a wide range of artists, including Joan Jett, Laura Jane Grace, and Ariana Grande.
These Boots Are Made For Walking (2017)
Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking was a perfect complement to Miley’s return to a more country-folk sound on her album Younger Now. She performed the cover on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where she’s also torn up covers of Tom Petty and Hall & Oates.
No Tears Left To Cry (2018)
Fans can duke it out which Ariana Grande related cover is best — the Backyard Sessions duet of Don’t Dream It’s Over, with its uber-chill vibes and almost flirty energy? Or this Mark Ronson-assisted, orchestral version of No Tears Left To Cry in the Live Lounge? If you ask us… why not both?
Head Like a Hole (2019)
This Nine Inch Nails song got the pop treatment by Miley’s Black Mirror pop star alter ego Ashley O. But Ashley escaping her controlling aunt allowed Cyrus to put her signature growl on the industrial rock track.
Heart of Glass (2020)
After dropping her latest single Midnight Sky, Miley began performing an absolutely prolific amount of covers. Some were modern (like a moody version of Britney Spears’ Gimme More), but most were a more classic rock flavor. Her powerhouse Heart of Glass lit up the internet, introducing young fans to Blondie and gaining plenty of new supporters.
It’s hard to choose the best performances from Miley’s latest covers — she hasn’t had one miss amongst takes on Pearl Jam, The Velvet Underground, and The Beatles. Her version of The Cranberries‘ Zombie is just a flat-out incredible vocal performance, and we have a feeling this sound is what we have to look forward to on the upcoming Plastic Hearts album.
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