Miley Cyrus turns 24 today (November 23) and – to celebrate her big, Flaming Lips-collaborating year – we trace the maddest moments in her fearless career.
Before she even released the Jessie J-penned pop fluff hit ‘Party In The USA’, this topless Annie Leibovitz shoot from 2008 hinted at things to come. The Italian headline reads, “What’s happened to Miley Cyrus? Everyone’s scandalised by the sexual transformation of Hannah Montana, but look at this photo taken at 15: doesn’t that already say something?”
Tame though it may seem in light of Cyrus’ recent on-stage dildo-waving, the video for ‘We Can’t Stop’, the first single from Miley’s 2013 album ‘Bangerz’, actually seemed pretty weird back then.
Jaws dropped across America during the 2013 VMA Awards, when Cyrus twerked up against Robin Thicke – 15 years her senior – while licking her lips, sporting a massive foam finger and pointing it at her rear quarters. It was instantly a classic couples’ Halloween costume.
This interview was the first big feature on Cyrus following the VMAs. It presented her as someone who made her own decisions, organised her own skydives and chose her own tattoos. Even if they were “ROLLING” and “$TONE” on two separate feet.
Remember when you couldn’t move on Twitter for all the GIFs of five-tonne steel balls swinging around? ‘Wrecking Ball’ was the moment Cyrus set her status as a cultural icon in stone, and the images of her tearfully licking sledgehammers spawned thousands of parodies, not least this brilliant Chatroulette one.
In an era when even smoking tobacco indoors has a touch of rebellion, smoking pot on a stage in front of millions has to be one of the most badass things done at the EMAs in years. Granted, she was in Amsterdam, but it was a breath of funky air for ceremony, whose previous most outrageous moment was 11 years earlier in 2002 – when, deplorably, P Diddy paid a woman to get naked.
Here are some of the things that happened during Cyrus’ Bangerz tour: she wore bondage gear to Alt-J’s ‘Fitzpleasure’; she came down a slide shaped like a tongue; she paid homage to marijuana; she threw money with her face on it at the audience; screens projected images of genitalia-shaped sweets; she rode a giant, flying dog. We’ll leave it there.
Robin Thicke’s creepy dad schtick not enough for ya? No matter – Miley’s got plenty more ball-busting twerking up her sleeve, here levelled at a Santa at KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball 2013. Note the candy-cane microphone, and the crushing of children’s dreams.
It’s ok to be confused. What MC’s done here follows a timeless, ubiquitous human tradition – drawing a big fat cock on something – and in this case, it’s on her skin-colour bodysuit. The picture was shot for Love magazine, Christmas 2013, and though the magazine posted the image on their Instagram, they later deleted it and covered up the offending phallus with a cartoon reindeer.
Miley and Madonna looked almost like mother and daughter at Miley’s MTV Unplugged show in January 2014, where like an embarrassing mum Madonna even says, “Break it down now”. The pair grind together like pros, performing their odd medley, ‘Don’t Tell Me We Can’t Stop’, with a jarringly wistful Americana backing.
Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ cover was one of the defining images of 2014. Thanks to Photoshop, it became Miley’s Twitter picture in July 2014. Minaj was unhappy, posting it on Instagram with the comment, “Give me one good reason why Miley made this her twitter avi. #AnacondaOniTunes.”
Miley stoked the flames further by wearing this enormous fake set of buttocks in concert in September 2014.
Billy-Bob teeth are freakily misaligned gnashers used most frequently on Halloween. Miley advertised her own ‘Miley-Bob’ version in November 2014, and they sold out in less than an hour.
Naked again, and this time it’s for NYC’s indie magazine Paper during an interview in which she explains why she became vegan. Now she’s fighting for animal rights, so there’s totally a reason for her to be covered in pigsty muck.
2015: the VMAs of beefs. Nicki Minaj criticised the VMAs. Taylor Swift thought it was about her. Miley commented on the issue in the press (calling Minaj “not very polite”) and Minaj hit back at Cyrus – the ceremony’s host – live on TV. “Back to this bitch who had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?”
“Call me when you’re legal”, said Miley to Justin Bieber at the 2015 VMAs, following the latter’s tearful performance of ‘What Do You Mean’ and ‘Where Are Ü Now’. It doesn’t make much sense, seeing as Miley was 22 and Justin 21 at the time – both very much legal ages, for most things – but who can fail to appreciate the sass?
This is one of nine alternative covers for the new edition of Candy, the first fashion publication dedicated to the trans community. Here Miley is a topless police officer sucking off a truncheon – another of the alt covers shows her completely naked, with her head covered up by a white cat.
Most recently, Miley played a gig in Chicago to start her Milky Milky Milk Tour alongside The Flaming Lips, where she wore a strap-on dildo and an outfit that could be from the Game Of Thrones wardrobe department. Fact: the strap-on’s length, Rolling Stone reported, was circa 18 inches.
Elsewhere in the show she dressed up in a nappy and mimed suckling on her 6’7” dancer’s ‘Milky Milky’ breasts.