WHO: Pop star and LGBT rights activist who really doesn’t care what you think of her.
WHY: Miley Cyrus is proof that not all former child stars end up in thrall to bad drugs or glumly wading through scripts for afternoon telly dramas. The 23-year-old formerly known as the wholesome Hannah Montana has spent the last few years getting as far away from her whitebread Disney roots as possible, but this year she rose above the controversy to become a sensitive, generous – and above all, fun – spokesperson for the diverse, varied and boundary-pushing youth of 2015 and beyond. Sure, there are limits as to who and what a white, wealthy, Western female can claim to represent – something both Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks have called her out for – but when it comes to LGBT issues and flicking the Vs at the gross double standards surrounding the way women are represented in the media, she’s done a sterling job.
This summer, Cyrus revealed she came out as bisexual to her mother when she was 14, informing the launch of Happy Hippie, her non-profit organisation to create digital support for LGBT youth and their familes, with a particular focus on the homeless. Then there was her take on a world where half-naked women are draped across the covers of magazines, but when a women decides to prance around in the buff on her own terms she’s harangued: “I’m a bad role model because I’m running around with my titties out? I’m not sure how titties are worse than guns,” she shrugged in a Marie Claire interview. Then, to hammer things home, there were Miley’s own fashion choices throughout 2015 – plastic boobs, strap-on dildos, day-glo stick-on nipple pasties – attacking a serious issue with a dose of high camp and brilliantly WTF comedy value.
It’s enough to make you think that the music became something of a sidenote, but thanks to her intriguing, accomplished Dead Petz collaboration with The Flaming Lips, she managed to impress our stereos as well as our minds.
WHAT SHE SAYS: “I am literally open to every single thing that is consenting and doesn’t involve an animal and everyone is of age. Everything that’s legal, I’m down with.”
WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT HER: “Who would have thought she’d do a record with The Flaming Lips? And they’re gonna perform the album nude… It feels like something that would have happened during the ’60s, something someone like Frank Zappa would have done. Good for Miley. Break the mould, girl.” – Elton John
HOW SHE MADE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE: By ripping its clothes off and covering it in glitter.
Read about why we picked the rest of our People of the Year 2015:
Taylor Swift – For establishing herself as the most powerful pop star on the planet
Kendrick Lamar – For making rap righteous again
The Libertines – For the year’s most beautiful (and unlikely) comeback
Mhairi Black – For changing the face of British politics
Skepta – For taking grime global
Nicki Minaj – For speaking out on race, gender and sexuality
Mathieu Flamini – For trying to save the world with his geo-energy company GF Biochemicals
Adele – For breaking every record in music history
Jennifer Lawrence – For being the year’s best role model
JJ Abrams – For re-awakening The Force
Noel Gallagher – For cutting through the crap and making us laugh