To celebrate the drop of her new single we look back at the stages of Wonderbabe Miley.

So Christmas has come early, not swinging from a wrecking ball, but in the form of ultimate Disney rebel Miley Cyrus and producer Mark Ronson, with surprise new track “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart”.

For a gal who first found fame as Hannah Montana back in 2006, Miley’s since reinvented herself, Madonna-style, more times than most of us could manage in a lifetime.

Here’s your guide to the evolution – or fully-blown revolution – of your fave Nashville native…

She came in like a wrecking ball – the Hannah Montana era.

It’s 2006. Victoria, Coleen and Cheryl (then Cole) were donning aviators, tank tops and short shorts from the sidelines of the World Cup footy pitches; Rihanna went mainstream with “SOS”; Kim was getting papped clubbing with Paris and – lest we forget – organising her chunky belt closet. But our eyes and hearts were fixed firmly on a different breakthrough icon of our times: Hannah Montana.

Premiering in March on the Disney Channel, Hannah Montana embodied the epitome of our pre-teen daydreams: that somewhere within all of us was a glitzy, glammed up popstar with a headset microphone and, in turn, not a care in the world.

We old.

All-American Miley goes platinum.

Already immortalised as a teen idol via several million record sales, a tour with The Cheetah Girls (scream) and a waxwork figure, Miley starts releasing tunes as her own glorious self circa 2007-2009. Here lies the underrated but crucial transition from wholesome IRL Disney princess (cc. “The Climb“), to a fully-fledged all-American pop star.

Not long after hopping off a plane at LAX with just a dream and her cardigan, Miley’s ode to the land of fame and excess “Party In the USA” hit certified quadruple platinum. Before long, the then 16-year old started gracing every red carpet that counts, and no – despite an ongoing penchant for cowboy boots – it’s definitely not a Nashville party.

Grown up, glowed up and can’t be tamed.

Eyes lined, hair teased and feathers ruffled, Miley emerged from the nest and cage of Disney declaring that she “can’t be tamed”, “won’t be blamed”, and goes “through guys like money flying out the hands”. Schmood.

Except then there was Liam. Spring 2010 also marks the release of “The Last Song”, the ultimately forgettable but fateful film where Miley met the Hemsworth hunk who would later become her future (almost, now maybe) husband. Engaged and soon sporting a sharp new mom bob, grown Miley had arrived.

Bangerz and a VMAs mashup.

Armed with a bleached blonde pixie crop, new recording contract and Britney Spears’ manager, Miley returned to music with Bangerz, lead by the irresistibly catchy summer anthem “Can’t Stop” – which quickly became her first UK no. 1, the first song ever to reach 100 million views on VEVO, and more importantly, her first public encounter with twerking.

Speaking of. Who here isn’t haunted by visceral flashbacks of Miley and Robin Thicke’s “Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” mashup at the 2013 MTV VMAs? The foam finger? Two pieces of nude PVC? One uncontrollable tongue? Worst of all: a highly unimpressed Rihanna watching it all unfold? Yep, we’re triggered too.

Never hit so hard in love, and all the feels.

What came first: newly named twerk-tastic Miley or heartbroken Miley? We may never know, and to be honest, the Bangerz era left us with much more pressing questions, like who was wiping Billy Ray’s tears as he cried into his guitar to “Achy Breaky Heart”?

Miley was crying too, slowly, cinematically, to the twinkly opening notes of “Wrecking Ball”. OK, so she shoehorned in a heavy dose of naked gyrating on a ginormous iron ball, but it was all very emotional and tbh quite cathartic all round. Smash that sledgehammer babes, we’re having a moment too.

Fairy Godmother Dolly.

From cowboy boots and cardigans to space buns that infamous tongue, there’s one magical woman who’s been by Miley’s side through it all. Icon and her IRL godmother, Dolly Parton graced us with several guest appearances on Hannah Montana back in 2006, as well as “Jolene” duets with Miley in 2010, 2012 and on The Voice with a capella group Pentatonix in 2016. With country influences skewering her sixth studio album, 2017’s Younger Now, Miley’s well and truly back in touch with her Nashville roots.

We can’t talk live duets without shouting out angel babe Ariana Grande, who she joined on stage last year at One Love Manchester to sing a poignant rendition of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over”. And now you’re crying too.

The heartbreak era 2.0.

It started with a complete wipe of Miley’s Instagram page (can we pls leave this stunt in 2018 now), then 6 teaser videos, with a video of a broken heart-shaped disco ball captioned 11/29. Tagged: Mark Ronson, who subsequently posted the same vid, captioned “the heartbreak era is coming….sooner than u think…”

We still weren’t ready for what hit: a country-infused sad-pop banger, and cinematic music video starring Miley, in metallics with snakeskin boots and dripping with diamonds, driving through a strip club filled with priests like the certified bad bitch she is.

See you at the VMAs 2019?

Featured image photographed by
Ellen von Unwerth