Where does “Flowers” rank alongside Cyrus’ best-known lead tracks? See how we ranked all eight.

When Miley Cyrus announced that she would be kicking off 2023 with the release of “Flowers,” a new single to precede her forthcoming album Endless Summer Vacation, the news was exciting on two levels: a new Cyrus single was coming, but perhaps more importantly, a new Cyrus lead single was coming.

After all, Cyrus has spent the majority of her recording career deploying lead singles as hints to upcoming shifts in her sound and style, with clear demarcations between album eras and the tweaks in public persona that the pop superstar adopts for each. From her Disney days — when songs like “See You Again” and “7 Things” pointed toward the commercial aspirations of the teen star — to the devil-may-care flare-ups of her Can’t Be Tamed and Bangerz periods, the first five years of Cyrus’ career featured sharp pivots in sound and attitude, often to denote how “adult” how projects at the time should be considered.

As Cyrus continued to evolve, full-length explorations of psychedelica, country-pop and retro-rock were given coming attractions befitting their sounds. Now, “Flowers” nods toward where Cyrus, currently one of popular music’s most fascinating shape-shifters, is headed next.

So which lead singles illustrate Cyrus’ pop power most effectively, especially now that there’s a new one to consider? All eight of Cyrus’ lead singles have their charms — truly, not a flat-out dud in the bunch — but some of her songs excel as both previews of their host albums and standalone gems in her catalog. And while it’s still early days for “Flowers,” we tried our best to consider its place among Cyrus’ lead singles to date, and humbly rank the new track among the seven that have stood tall for years. (One note before we begin: 2015’s Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz did not have an official radio single as an independent release, but it does have a song that’s considered its lead single, so that’s the one we ranked.)

Here are Miley Cyrus’ lead singles, ranked.

Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz was a glorious mess — a shambolic, proudly drugged-out independent release that was made with The Flaming Lips and threw up a middle finger at top 40 expectations post-Bangerz. Parts of the album are brilliant (“Lighter” remains one of Cyrus’ most perfect pop songs to date), other parts are unlistenable (at nearly five minutes, “Milky Milky Milk” is a tough hang), and “Dooo It!,” the lead track that Cyrus premiered while hosting the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, encapsulates the set’s dramatic highs and lows in a relatively short amount of time. The song’s zonked-out bounce never really moves forward, but some of its exclamations (“Yeah, I smoke pot, yeah, I love peace!,” “Sing about LOVE!”) are still a blast to shout along with when the speakers are turned up.

At a time when Disney Channel stars like the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato were releasing family-friendly pop-rock hits, Cyrus shed her Hannah Montana alter ego and joined that sound as well. “7 Things” turns teen drama into a wholly propulsive product, with Cyrus rattling off her crush’s worst qualities until finally throwing her hands up and admitting her feelings; the heightened emotion works, and begs the listener to climb aboard for the rush of the chorus. Released a year before “Party in the U.S.A.” became her true post-Hannah Montana smash, “7 Things” stands as a fan favorite today, and a precursor to even bigger things to come for the burgeoning pop star.

After the release of Bangerz turned Cyrus into a chart-topping party-starter and Dead Petz brought her on a trippy detour, “Malibu” acted as a palette-cleanser, its soft-rock edges signaling a calmer, more adult vision. “Malibu” is meant to evoke a SoCal sunset in both its gently strumming arrangement, ocean imagery and lyrical approach, in which Cyrus pleads for a perfect moment to continue on forever. And while the lead single to 2017’s Younger Now lacks the sort of barnstorming hook that Cyrus has made a calling card, the FM radio grace of “Malibu” stands out in her catalog, and is always a welcome surprise when it pops on.

Cyrus released “Flowers,” the lead single off of eighth album Endless Summer Vacation, on the birthday of her ex-husband, Liam Hemsworth; the detail has been widely interpreted as a parting shot at the actor, but really, the song focuses far more on self-sustainability than revenge, trading the melancholy of a song like 2019’s “Slide Away” for a more assertive outlook. “No remorse, no regret/ I forgive every word you said,” Cyrus sings, a subtle disco-pop arrangement supporting her steps forward. If the lyrical concept of “Flowers” was a red herring, the single also fakes out any listener expecting a full-blown reinvention with the single — this is sturdy, hummable pop, and it captivates without bells or whistles.

Even though it reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, “Can’t Be Tamed” is arguably Cyrus’ least-successful lead single, considering how derided the song and its clunky-metaphor music video became as an adult pivot away from her Disney brand, and how her 2010 album of the same time was bereft of any other crossover hits that could continue her momentum from “Party in the U.S.A.” from the previous year. In hindsight, though? “Can’t Be Tamed” rules: a throbbing, boisterous dance-pop declaration of independence that recalled Britney Spears’ Blackout sound (always a good thing) and also gestured towards the rise of EDM over the next few years. Cyrus’ Can’t Be Tamed era may have been a commercial misfire back then, but its lead single still hits hard today.

Everything about Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts era played to her artistic strengths, as a student of ‘70s pop songwriting who understands the larger-than-life aesthetics of glam rock and the defiant attitude required to fully hook an audience. And by extension, “Midnight Sky” perfectly previewed that era, its cool synth-pop sheen hoisting up Cyrus’ seasoned snarl — “I was born to run, I don’t belong to anyone, oh no,” she wails — and pulling in tons of throwback influences, while also maintaining a clear focus on evoking Stevie Nicks throughout. (Cyrus even released a mashup of “Midnight Sky” and Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen,” titled “Edge of Midnight,” ahead of Plastic Hearts). “Midnight Sky” continues to age well, evolving from a logical nostalgia play for Cyrus into a stylish, enduring jam.

Everything about Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts era played to her artistic strengths, as a student of ‘70s pop songwriting who understands the larger-than-life aesthetics of glam rock and the defiant attitude required to fully hook an audience. And by extension, “Midnight Sky” perfectly previewed that era, its cool synth-pop sheen hoisting up Cyrus’ seasoned snarl — “I was born to run, I don’t belong to anyone, oh no,” she wails — and pulling in tons of throwback influences, while also maintaining a clear focus on evoking Stevie Nicks throughout. (Cyrus even released a mashup of “Midnight Sky” and Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen,” titled “Edge of Midnight,” ahead of Plastic Hearts). “Midnight Sky” continues to age well, evolving from a logical nostalgia play for Cyrus into a stylish, enduring jam.

No matter how much you agree with this ranking or think it’s totally off the mark, one thing here is inarguable: No other Cyrus lead single is as crucial to her career as “We Can’t Stop.” Following the disappointing performance of her Can’t Be Tamed album, Cyrus completely transformed her aesthetic by recruiting Mike WiLL Made-It and throwing a hip-hop party, haters be damned. Grills, twerking, veiled drug references and claims of cultural appropriation followed, but so did enormous commercial returns for her Bangerz album, as “We Can’t Stop” and its power ballad follow-up “Wrecking Ball” became two defining songs of 2013.

Removing “We Can’t Stop” from the context of its release can be difficult, but the fact is, the song became so popular because its collage of hedonistic sounds is so effective: You can get lost in its woofing beat, singsong pre-chorus and sneering bridge whether you’re at a club bellowing among friends or at home listening on headphones. And in the center of it all is Cyrus, torching her kiddie image with glee and slinging body positivity unabashedly. Along with being a linchpin moment in her career, “We Can’t Stop” is still a blast, the sound of Cyrus committing to a bit but having the pop brilliance to pull it off.

Is Miley Cyrus ‘Flowers’ About Liam Hemsworth? An Investigation Into the Lyrics & References

Plus, what does Bruno Mars have to do with the Endless Summer Vacation lead single?

Miley Cyrus dropped her new single “Flowers” on Thursday night, and all signs seem to point to the anthem taking inspiration from her relationship with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth.

Of course, the A-listers’ 2019 divorce — which was finalized the following January — is emotional territory that the pop star has mined previously, from the heartache of 2019 one-off “Slide Away” to Plastic Hearts lead single “Midnight Sky.”

But with distance and hindsight, the lead single from Cyrus’ upcoming Endless Summer Vacation offers a new and poignant take on her nearly 10-year romance with the actor, whom she first met on the set of the 2010 big-screen adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Last Song.

Below, Billboard dives into all the clues and lyrical Easter eggs that tell Cyrus’ side of her breakup with Hemsworth.

Look for more clues about Cyrus’ relationship with Hemsworth in the “Flowers” music video below.

Smilers first caught onto the idea that the pop star might be referencing her now-ex-husband when she announced the single’s Jan. 13 release date — which also happens to be Hemsworth’s 33rd birthday.

“Miley’s telling the world she can love herself better ON LIAM’S BIRTHDAY?! she definitely didn’t lie when she said she’s got nerve,” one fan wrote after Cyrus shared the news. Another couldn’t help but comment, “Nothing funnier than Miley Cyrus releasing on Liam Hemsworth birthday I know he’s gonna get dragged through filth wrecking ball 2.0 here we come.”





Earlier this month, Cyrus began teasing the song’s chorus in a sultry post on social media: “I can buy myself flowers, write my name in the sand/ Talk to myself for hours, yeah, say things you don’t understand/ I can take myself dancing, I can hold my own hand/ Yeah, I can love me better than you can.” On their own, the lyrics could be about any given ill-fated romance. But once the single dropped in full, the superstar got pointedly more specific.

“We were good, we were gold/ Kind of dream that can’t be sold/ We were right till we weren’t/ Built a home and watched it burn,” she sings on the opening verse, strutting across a Los Angeles overpass in the video wearing a gold lamé sheath. Of course, fans will remember that the couple’s Malibu home was destroyed in the devastating Woolsey Fire of 2018, a tragedy Cyrus later admitted spurred her into marrying Hemsworth nearly a decade after they first fell in love.

“When you experience what we experienced together with someone, it is like glue. You’re the only two people in the world who can understand,” the singer explained in a February 2019 interview with Elle, just months after the pair tied the knot in an intimate ceremony. “I would say that losing the house changed us much more than getting married changed us.”

In the second verse, Cyrus seems to divulge moments from behind closed doors when Hemsworth tried to win her back, crooning, “Paint my nails cherry red/ Matched the roses that you left.” However, despite proclaiming she “didn’t want to leave” over and over on the chorus, the Hannah Montana star isn’t looking back with sadness. Instead, she nonchalantly declares, “No remorse, no regrets/ I forgive every word you said” before dancing ecstatically around an LA mansion all on her own.

“Flowers” slyly references Bruno Mars‘ 2013 No. 1 hit “When I Was Your Man” into its declaration of independence from a former lover.

Mirroring the chorus of “Flowers” from the other partner’s perspective, Mars croons, “I should have bought you flowers, And held your hand/ Should have gave you all my hours, When I had the chance/ Take you to every party ’cause all you wanted to do was dance/ Now my baby’s dancing, But she’s dancing with another man” on the lovelorn smash, which became his fourth chart-topper in the spring of 2013.

Some unconfirmed fan theories floating around the Twittersphere claim Hemsworth once dedicated the track from Mars’ 2012 album Unorthodox Jukebox to Cyrus after the couple broke off their first engagement back in late 2013.

“Me explaining to the Trader Joe’s employee how Flowers by Miley Cyrus has the same tune as When I Was Your Man By Bruno Mars and her chorus lyrics being a response to Bruno’s chorus lyrics because Liam Hemsworth dedicated that song to her once is pop culture [HERSTORY]!!!!” one fan tweeted to explain the purported connection between the two songs.

In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, Cyrus appears to harken back to a particular interview the couple did together back in 2019.

At the time, they were attending the Vanity Fair Oscars party and were stopped on the red carpet by a reporter from Access Hollywood, who lavished praise on Cyrus…but not before Hemsworth thought the compliment was for him.

“We’ve loved you for so long,” the journalist told Cyrus, to which her then-hubby responded “Thank you,” leading the interviewer to quip, “Oh yeah I’m not talkin’ ’bout you!” At this, Hemsworth playfully rolled his eyes and smiled through the awkward moment, as the reporter went on to ask his wife, “You have grown and done so much as a woman and as a person, as a musician. Does it feel good where you’re at right now?”

However, when the Access Hollywood personality followed that up by asking what a dance looked like between the couple, Hemsworth didn’t love Cyrus playfully grinding on him. “Don’t do it, don’t do it. Sweetheart, we’re on the carpet,” he chided at the time.

Well, in the video, Cyrus appears to reclaim her moves for herself, mimicking the grinding motion among her burst of gleeful choreography at the visual’s climax. Why yes, she can take herself dancing, thank you very much!

Miley Cyrus releases breakup anthem ‘Flowers’ on ex-husband Liam Hemsworth’s birthday

Miley Cyrus has moved on from heartbreak — and she’s sharing her healing in a new song.

The singer, who’s had hits in various genres including country, rock and pop, dropped her latest song “Flowers” on Friday, a single off her upcoming 13-track album “Endless Summer Vacation.”

In the song, Cyrus sings about finding self-love after heartbreak. Sampling the 2012 Bruno Mars hit “When I Was Your Man,” Cyrus seems to answer Mars’ famous lyrics “I should have bought you flowers / And held your hand / Should have gave you all my hours / When I had the chance / Take you to every party ’cause all you wanted to do was dance” in a chorus of her own.

“I can buy myself flowers,” she sings. “Write my name in the sand / Talk to myself for hours / Say things you don’t understand / I can take myself dancing / And I can hold my own hand / Yeah, I can love me better than you can.”

Cyrus released the song on her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth’s 33rd birthday, something her fans speculate was no accident.

In 2019, Cyrus and Hemsworth called it quits less than a year into their marriage, 10 years after meeting on a movie set. The former couple met in 2009 while filming an adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ “The Last Song” and announced their engagement in 2012. Cyrus began wearing her engagement ring again in early 2016, and the couple married in December 2018 in Tennessee.

In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2020, Cyrus shared that despite how she was portrayed, she was not happy and was going down a dark path in 2018.

” ‘She’s got a man. She’s living in a house playing wife,’ ” Cyrus said, adding she was also experimenting with drugs and alcohol. “Dude, I was way more off my path at that time than any of the times before where my sanity was being questioned.”

With ‘Flowers,’ Miley Cyrus Ushers In an Assured New Era

When it comes to Miley Cyrus, you should always expect the unexpected. Since departing her reign on Disney Channel, she’s delivered one curveball after the next—and her latest single, “Flowers,” is no different.

Before we dig into the new single, which debuted Thursday night, let’s rewind a bit. Sonically, Cyrus has taken us on a journey without a roadmap. No signals or clues. Just a series of pitstops here and there. It all started in 2010 when she dropped Can’t Be Tamed, right before the final season of Hannah Montana debuted. The edgy album assured listeners her beloved character was purely fiction. Hannah was gone, and this was the Miley we ought to know. Then, three years later, she chopped her hair off, dyed it blonde, and released Bangerz. To many listeners’ delight, the album was filled with party anthems that screamed, I just turned 21 and I’m making it everyone’s problem.

Cyrus kept that going for a few years, with various experimental EPs and singles. But in 2017, she flipped the script with Younger Now, a saccharine record full of whimsy and romance. And of course, just when you thought you had her figured out, Cyrus returned in 2020 with Plastic Hearts—a rock-inspired album that would make any Hall-of-Famer proud. Even Stevie Nicks gave her seal of approval, recording a remix of “Edge of Seventeen” for the record. It was the perfect revamp for Cyrus, who’d been trying to clean up her image. With that? I thought we’d finally met our destination. As it turns out, Cyrus had other plans.





“Flowers” marks an entirely new era for the singer. Miley Cyrus is all grown up—and it shows. At 30 years old, she clearly has a newfound confidence. You can hear it in her voice as she smoothly wades through the track; you can see it in her eyes as she struts around a mansion in the music video. Lately, her aura is less look at me, and more, here I am. Like a person who doesn’t need your approval, because they never thought to ask.

Thematically, “Flowers” is a classic breakup anthem where Cyrus realizes she’s fine on her own. “I can buy myself flowers / Write my name in the sand,” she sings over a groovy beat. “I can take myself dancing / And I can hold my own hand / Yeah, I can love me better than you can.” Unlike Plastic Hearts, this track has no trace of rock and roll. That’s not to say Cyrus’s next album, Endless Summer, out March 10, will abandon the gruff melodies we grew to love—but I wouldn’t count on them either.

If my suspicions are correct, Endless Summer will mark a new era for Cyrus: one of healing, renewal, and perhaps, a bit of revenge. If you haven’t already, I suggest giving the song a listen. It’s best experienced at full volume—and with a drink in hand.