Miley Cyrus is no stranger to covers. Through reinterpretations of songs from Coldplay to Dolly Parton, Paul Simon to Billie Eilish, Hall & Oates to Lana del Rey, this Tennessee native has not let us forget her unique versatility and iconoclast status. This unmatched skill has successfully provided listeners with the thrill of “rehearing” hits in a different context. Cyrus’ cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in late September impeccably exemplifies her power in covers and the delightful juxtaposition of the new and old.
Blondie’s upbeat and feminine song of infatuation is transformed through Cyrus’ raspy belting and passionate grungy tone. Her performance radiates an androgynous quality through the raucous masculine belting, borderline yelling, that contrasts with her semi-sheer black “catsuit”, red lip, and extravagant jewelry. From the way Cyrus holds the microphone to the raw emotion as she sings “Mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind”, her performance is unapologetically provocative and radiates liberty and self-sufficiency. Cyrus has rarely attempted to cover up her mistakes or condemn her past, a strategy somewhat rare for female celebrities. Though, such transparency seems to have proven an asset, making her public transformation more refreshing and authentic. With “Heart of Glass”, Miley Cyrus has once again flawlessly illustrated her headway since her Disney days, shamelessly finding her footing and reminding the public of the importance of welcoming growth.
Within minutes of the performance, the cover went viral, dominating social media apps like TikTok and Twitter. It resonated with such a significant number of people that it has now been released to streaming services due to such high demand. During a time of heightened isolation, cancel culture, social injustice, and political corruption, Cyrus’ liberating nature is a consolation.
More so than Pop, the hysteria surrounding this performance confirms the recent increased craving for Rock. Miley Cyrus’ homage to rock and the public’s identification with the performance is not particularly surprising. Rock gained momentum in the 1960s during a period of great social change and counterculture. Anti-war protests, the Stonewall Inn riots, Woodstock, the civil rights movement, psychedelic experimentation, the sexual revolution, among many other movements spearheaded by the younger generations coincided with the rise of rock and roll. While Cyrus’ cover doesn’t quite match the noisiness of the Beatles “Helter Skelter”, the desire to be loud and seemingly scream for liberation pertains. It is no shock that rock may feel more fitting to many right now.
Watch Miley Cyrus’ cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” below.