Miley Cyrus’ Music and Style Evolution

From Hannah Montana to Malibu

Miley Cyrus is one of the most versatile artists working today. Who would have thought when she was belting out “The Best of Both Worlds” on Disney Channel that she would come in on a wrecking ball and tear down everything we thought we knew about pop music? Answer: Probably no one—except Miley, that is.

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Miley is a woman who knows what she wants out of her life and her career and who clearly doesn’t let anyone stop her when she puts her mind to something. Now, she seems to have put her mind to reinventing herself yet again, this time as a country artist. In honor of Miley’s latest transformation, let’s look back at how her style—and sound—have evolved over the years.

2006: Hannah Montana

Miley Cyrus's Music Evolution

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When we first met Miley Cyrus, it was as her Disney-fied alter ego, Hannah Montana. As Hannah, Miley was the epitome of pop, from her embellished, bright-colored clothes to her you-just-have-to-dance-along-to-this catchy tunes. She was also totally family-friendly—something the real Miley would go on to rebel against in a big way as she got older.

2007: Meet Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus's Music and Style Evolution

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Hannah Montana’s popularity went absolutely worldwide, so eventually we all started to crave more of the real girl behind the pop phenomenon. Miley got the chance to introduce the world to the “real” her as an artist for the first time in 2007, when Disney released the double CD, Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus. The Best of Both Worlds tour gave Miley a chance to perform as herself for the first time, and she definitely let the world know that the real Miley was darker and edgier than Hannah right from the get-go, rocking leather and chains in concert.

Her first solo single as herself was “See You Again,” which featured the iconic line, “She’s just being Miley.” And she’s just been “being Miley” ever since, so it foreshadowed a lot.

2008: Breakout 

Once the world had a little taste of Miley, we needed more: STAT. Cue: Breakout, Miley’s first solo album that wasn’t tied to her Hannah Montana work. The album was very Hannah Montana-y, with catchy singles like “7 Things,” but Miley was already letting the world know she was growing up, especially when it came to her style, which was more mature than ever.

2009: Party in the USA

In 2009, Miley released her EP, The Time of Our Lives, featuring what would become one of her first truly iconic singles, “Party in the USA.” It was also the year that Miley started to experiment with a slightly sexier look and vibe to her music, making waves at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.

2010: Can’t Be Tamed

Miley Cyrus's Music and Style Evolution

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In 2010, Miley proved that her Hannah days were truly behind her with the uber sexy video for her single, “Can’t Be Tamed.” The album was Miley’s last with the Disney-owned Hollywood Records, which makes sense: It was clear from the album that she was no longer a Disney Channel artist.

2010 was also the year Miley went public with her relationship with her The Last Song costar, Liam Hemsworth. NBD.

2012: The Haircut

Miley Cyrus's Music and Style Evolution

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In 2012, Miley gave the world the first truly huge signal that she was going to reinvent herself and her style whenever the mood struck: She chopped her hair into a platinum blonde pixie that shocked the world.

She tweeted that she felt more like the real her than ever after the cut.

2013: Bangerz

Miley Cyrus's Music and Style Evolution

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After taking a bit of a break from the music scene to focus on her acting and her personal life, Miley returned to the music scene in 2013 with Bangerz, her first album truly independent of the Disney family. The album brought Miley her biggest hit to date, “Wrecking Ball,” and the single came in like a wrecking ball to destroy everything we thought we knew about Miley as a singer.

At the 2013 VMAs, Miley courted controversy with a risque performance involving a foam finger, hardly any clothes, and Robin Thicke. Yeah, you remember the one.

2015: Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz

Miley never stops shocking us. In 2015, instead of releasing another studio album, she dropped a free album on SoundCloud. Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz was unlike anything Miley had ever done before. The experimental, psychedelic album brought us “BB Talk,” AKA the music video you’ll never be able to unsee. In her personal life and onstage, Miley was embracing her most fiercely unique style choices yet.

2016: The Voice

In 2016, Miley used her unique perspective on the world and the music industry to use mentoring young artists on NBC’s hit, The Voice. TEAM MILEY, all the way.

2017: Malibu

Miley Cyrus's Music and Style Evolution

Source: Billboard

Which brings us to now: In 2017, Miley is reinventing herself again, this time as a country artist. Her new song might be called “Malibu,” but it’s clear her musical heart is back in Tennessee this time around. The song itself is also totally new territory for Miley—it’s so sweet it’s almost, well, sentimental, and obviously about rekindling her love with Liam Hemsworth, whom she got re-engaged to in 2016.

And as for her style? Prepare yourself for a more modest Miley. “The fact that ­country music fans are scared of me, that hurts me…..I’m evolving, and I surround myself with smart people that are evolved,” she told Billboard.

Featured Image Source: Marie Claire