The ultimate 21st-Century pop star

During the same year, Cyrus returned to hip-hop-infused pop with She Is Coming, a well-received EP featuring collaborations with Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah, singer-rapper Swae Lee and drag icon RuPaul. Teaming with the latter for a sassy track called Cattitude underscored Cyrus’s status as an LGBTQ role model; in past interviews, she has identified as pansexual and a “queer woman”. “I love her [sexual] fluidity, her queerness and how she is always unapologetically herself,” says ABISHA. Cyrus has also shown her support for this community by launching The Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit that aims “to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations”. Then at the 2019 Glastonbury festival, Cyrus proved she could pull together the disparate strands of her career with a wildly entertaining set peppered with clever cover versions. “She treated that slot like a rock headline show and threw herself into covering everything from Metallica to the original Nine Inch Nails song that inspired her Black Mirror track On a Roll,” Hunt says.

Cyrus followed her triumphant Glastonbury performance by honing her rock chops on 2020’s retro-leaning Plastic Hearts album, for which she duetted with two icons of the genre: Joan Jett and Billy Idol. She also kept one foot in pop’s present by scoring a zingy hit single, Prisoner, with fellow contemporary hitmaker Dua Lipa. So, as she enters a new era with Endless Summer Vacation, fans already know to expect the unexpected. As Cyrus told us back in 2020, she is an artist who “can’t be tamed”.

Cyrus’s successful shapeshifting reflects not just her own musical versatility, but also the unusually fluid musical era that she is navigating. “Even just a couple of years ago, it might have been [seen as] a bit strange for a big star who is known for one style of music to put out something in another style. But these days, it’s pretty commonplace,” says McIntyre. Still, he also believes that Cyrus can ride the genre-blurring wave so confidently because she has developed a genuinely distinctive voice. “We recognise her way of writing, whether [she is singing] a rock song, pop song or something else,” he says. It would be a little pat to suggest that every pivot she makes can be explained by quoting See You Again’s famous lyric: “She’s just being Miley.” However, 16 years after she branched out from Hannah Montana, there is no denying that Cyrus has built a formidable identity as a true musical chameleon. Whatever lane she decides to drive down next, people will be paying attention.

Endless Summer Vacation is out now.

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