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From Teen Queen to Pop Icon, Check Out Miley Cyrus' Trailblazing Career
The former Voice Coach has been a triple-threat since before she could drive.
Former Coach of The Voice, pop culture renegade, a music industry maverick: Miley Cyrus has been churning out powerhouse performances and cutting-edge career moves since her rise to fame as a teen idol.
As the Tennessee-born child of mullet-sporting country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, she first got her start as America's sweetheart Hannah Montana, and has since led a jam-packed entertainment career. As a musician, her pop-rock sound is a tad country, a little hip-hop, with a splash of rock-n-roll — a mindful result of her refusal to be pigeonholed as an artist. Cyrus has been churning out hits for years, with her latest album Endless Summer Vacation scoring Cyrus a 2024 Grammy nomination. Cyrus never fails to amaze, with each new project building on the last.
Cyrus' mythic career speaks for itself and it tells a captivating story of authenticity and emotional evolution. Check out Cyrus' career highlights, from Hannah Montana to The Voice and beyond, below.
Miley Cyrus' Grammy Nominations and Awards
As of 2024, Cyrus is the proud recipient of eight Grammy nominations. Cyrus earned her latest Grammy nominations for her 2023 album Endless Summer Vacation. The album earned six 2024 Grammy nominations for Record Of The Year ("Flowers"), Song Of The Year ("Flowers"), Best Pop Solo Performance ("Flowers"), Best Pop Duo/Group Performance ("Thousand Miles" with Brandi Carlile), Album of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Album.
“Congratulations to all of this [year’s] Grammy nominees. Watching women win & rule the music industry makes me proud,” Cyrus shared on X (formerly Twitter) following the nomination announcement. “It’s fun to be nominated & exciting to win but having my music be LOVED around the world is the real trophy. To my Smilers – I celebrate YOU today. Your joy is my bliss. My team + all of my collaborators are irreplaceable & priceless pieces of this puzzle. I love you all. Thank you for making my Endless Summer Vacation so sweet.”
Cyrus isn't a stranger to the Pop Vocal Album category; she received the same nomination at the 57th Grammy Awards for her 2013 album Bangerz. In 2021, Cyrus received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year as one of the featured artists on Lil Nas X's Montero.
Cyrus is one of the most decorated stars of today, with dozens of prestigious awards and accolades. Cyrus is the proud winner of six Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, first taking home a bright orange blimp in 2007 for Favorite TV Actress in Hannah Montana. Cyrus cemented her status as Teen Queen as the recipient of several Teen Choice Award nominations since her rise to fame in 2007, taking home over ten of these prestigious nods. In 2010, Cyrus won a People's Choice Award for Favorite Breakout Movie Actress for her role in The Last Song.
In 2014, she won a Billboard Music Award for Top Streamed Artist and Top Streaming Song (Video) for "Wrecking Ball." She's secured three MTV Video and Music Awards: One for "Wrecking Ball" and two (Best Art Direction and Best Editing) for "Mother's Daughter."
Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana
Cyrus skyrocketed to success on the popular children's program Hannah Montana, with her as the titular pop star. She was also as the inspiration for the main character, Miley Stewart, a seemingly typical high schooler who lived a double life as the teen star Hannah Montana. Her father, Billy Ray, co-starred in the series as Robby Ray Stewart, Miley's fictional father and country-loving cheerleader. Hannah Montana was a smash success and instantly catapulted Cyrus into star status.
"When my peers are having these experiences and accepting themselves because of something that I demonstrated while they were a kid, that’s when I go, 'Sh-t, I f-cking am Hannah Montana,'" Cyrus told Rolling Stone in 2020. "Really, Hannah Montana was not a character. That wasn’t what the show is about. It was about a normal girl with a f-cking wig on. Everything was always in me. The concept of the show, it’s me. I’ve had to really come to terms with that and not be third-person about it."
While filming for Hannah Montana, Cyrus also recorded several albums under her character's name: Hannah Montana (2006), Hannah Montana 2 (2007), Hannah Montana 3 (2009), and Hannah Montana Forever (2010). After touring as her character, Cyrus released the live album of her 2008 Best of Both Worlds tour.
In 2009, she starred in the feature film Hannah Montana: The Movie, which followed Miley Stewart as she traveled to her hometown in Tennessee to escape the crushing weight of Hannah Montana's rising fame. The film's soundtrack became an instant hit — especially its iconic "Hoedown Throwdown," a line dance anthem performed by Miley Stewart surrounded by her loved ones, and the coming-of-age hit, "The Climb," which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Hannah Montana had a steel chokehold on audiences, leading Cyrus to deliberately distance herself from the character in the years following the series finale. Despite successfully separating herself from the blonde wig and bedazzled belts, Cyrus has since embraced her connection to the beloved persona. In 2021, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Hannah Montana's release, Cyrus shared a heartfelt letter penned to her former character on her Instagram.
"Although you are considered to be an 'alter ego,' in reality there was a time in my life when you held more of my identity in your glovette than I did in my bare hands," Cyrus wrote. "You have all my love and upmost gratitude. Breathing life into you for those 6 years was an honor."
Miley Cyrus' Discography
Cyrus' first studio album under her own name — 2007's Meet Miley Cyrus — was a signal to fans that a new era of superstardom was upon us. Released the same year as Hannah Montana 2, Meet had 10 original recordings from Cyrus, including the sensational singles "See You Again" and "Start All Over."
In 2008, Cyrus kept the ball rolling with her sophomore studio release, Breakout, which further helped her differentiate herself from Hannah Montana. The album featured the smash songs "7 Things" and "Fly on the Wall" — a track that centered around the media's burning obsession with Cyrus and her "sweetheart" image.
"'Fly on the Wall' was really about the media at that time," Cyrus told Rolling Stone in 2020. "They were already starting to label me as 'America’s Sweetheart Gone Wrong.' I was thinking, 'If you could only be a fly on the wall. It’s worse than you can imagine.' Or better, I guess."
The Time of Our Lives and "Party in the U.S.A."
In 2009, Cyrus released her first EP, The Time of Our Lives, which included Cyrus' bop "Party in the U.S.A." Over time, Cyrus has tweaked the patriotic jam's lyrics to provide social commentary on current events.
"['Party in the U.S.A.'] is not even my style of music," Cyrus told MTV in 2009. "I'm really blessed for it to have done as well as it has. Totally blessed. God has definitely put me in an amazing position with amazing people."
Can't Be Tamed
Cyrus began setting the record straight for the masses with her third studio album, Can’t Be Tamed. The titular lead single was written as a message to the media that Cyrus was dropping the goody-too-shoes routine and refused to be controlled by circulating narratives. To this day, Cyrus has a soft spot for the album as her response to reaching the apex of teen fame and scrutiny.
"'Can’t Be Tamed' is like 'I wanna fly, I wanna drive, I wanna go,' and you know that I still really relate to songs like that..." Cyrus told Jimmy Fallon in a 2020 interview for The Tonight Show: At Home Edition. "I was already telling ya'll that something was about to happen, that I wasn't Hannah Montana."
Every teen star must separate themselves from their child star brand at some point, but few icons have made headlines for doing so quite like Cyrus did. The album that undoubtedly separated Cyrus from her Disney roots was the twerk-packed 2013 release Bangerz. While Cyrus had previously typically released pop-rock albums, Bangerz ushered in a new sonic chapter for the fledgling pop icon. Described by Cyrus in a 2012 chat with CNN as "dirty south hip hop," Bangerz served as Cyrus' small step away from child star shenanigans and a giant leap into adulthood.
Featuring everything from replay-worthy tracks like "We Can't Stop" to emotional power ballads like "Wrecking Ball," Bangerz was executive produced by Cyrus, Mike Will Made It, and now-fellow Voice alum Pharrell Williams. The album earned Cyrus her first-ever Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.
Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz and Younger Now
Cyrus released her fifth studio album, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, in 2015 which was produced by Bangerz collaborator Mike Will Made It and Wayne Coyne alongside his band, The Flaming Lips. Cyrus surprised fans with the announcement of the album while hosting the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.
Two years later, Cyrus shifted again with the release of Younger Now, channeling her country roots for many of the album's reflective lineup. The easy-going Younger Now includes songs like "Rainbowland," co-written by her godmother Dolly Parton, and the dreamy love ballad "Malibu."
“‘Malibu’ and ‘Younger Now’ are obviously two f-cking very different visuals in a way, but what binds them together is that they are both me. For Bangerz, I was so one way, I was so ‘This is who I am, there’s nothing that’s gonna change it,' and you know, I did that on Dead Petz too," Cyrus explained in an interview with NME Magazine. "Now, I think I have more of an open mind where I’m like, ‘OK, I can be a bunch of different things every day.' I don’t have to be so locked into myself because then I’m putting those walls and borders around myself that I tell everyone else not to give in to.”
She Is Coming EP
The 2019 EP She Is Coming had tracks that touched on Cyrus' public image, former drug use, and partying days — and criticized the pop culture pedestal on which she had been placed years, with singles like the dance track "Mother's Daughter" and the sobering track "Slide Away."
“There’s psychedelic elements, there’s pop elements, there’s more hip-hop-leaning records,” Cyrus told NME. "You know, in the same way I like to kind of just be genderless, I like feeling genre-less." Cyrus continued by explaining She Is Coming is “just kind of a mosaic of all the things that I’ve been before.”
Riding the high of She Is Coming's success, Cyrus released one of her most esteemed albums yet, Plastic Hearts, in 2020. The album established Cyrus as a rock legend who can belt with the best of them, embracing a Joan Jett-inspired aesthetic with synth-savvy singles like "Angels Like You," "Midnight Sky" and "Prisoner," featuring Dua Lipa. The LP version of Plastic Hearts includes Cyrus' cover of The Cranberries' hit "Zombie."
“I think that I’m really embracing — and everyone else is embracing, too — that the music is a priority right now,” Cyrus told Rolling Stone following the album's release. “I guess I’m just in love with the fact that for once, it feels like it’s really focused on the music."
Attention: Miley Live
Cyrus became a bona fide cover queen in 2022 with the release of her live album Attention: Miley Live. Cyrus curated the album to cater to her die-hard fans, recording at the 2022 Super Bowl Music Fest.
Cyrus chose tracks spanning her decade-long discography, performing beloved singles from Plastic Hearts, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, Bangerz, The Time of Our Lives, and Meet Miley Cyrus. Cyrus also performed several cover songs that have since become viral sensations, including her cover of Madonna's "Like a Prayer"; Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and "Edge of Midnight"; and her mash-up of Stevie Nick's "Edge of Seventeen" and her own "Midnight Sky."
Endless Summer Vacation and the "Used To Be Young" TikTok Series
In 2023, Cyrus dropped her most recent studio album, Endless Summer Vacation. Featuring viral songs "Flowers," "Used To Be Young," and "River," the dance-pop album rocked radio waves. Like the many albums before it that have been a deep dive into the psyche of Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation serves as a manifesto for looking back at her rise to fame with no remorse. "Used To Be Young" includes powerfully reflective lyrics like "I know I used to be crazy / I know I used to be fun / You say I used to be wild / I say I used to be young."
With the release of Endless Summer Vacation, Cyrus produced and directed a 42-part series for TikTok chronicling the past 30 years of her life, titled after her single "Used To Be Young." In each installment, Cyrus shined a light on a different career highlight, starting from the Hannah Montana days.
"‘Used To Be Young’ is my newest single. I wrote the song about two years ago and have been producing it ever since because as I was going through my own metamorphosis and evolution, the song had to grow and shift with me," Cyrus revealed in the final installment of the TikTok series. "It's optimistic, and there's a sadness. It's allowing sadness and joy to be happening simultaneously, which happens all the time.”
Miley Cyrus' The Backyard Sessions
Around the time of Can't Be Tamed's release, Cyruss also created her popular YouTube concert series, Backyard Sessions. She debuted Backyard Sessions by covering her godmother Dolly Parton's country classic "Jolene." Cyrus' performance resonated with audiences and paved the way for several must-watch Backyard performances of covers and original songs, most taking place in Cyrus' backyard.
In 2015, to help launch her nonprofit The Happy Hippie Foundation, Cyrus hosted another Backyard Sessions performance, this time with now-fellow red chair veteran on The Voice, Ariana Grande. Cyrus donned a unicorn onesie for the event as Grande sported a mouse onesie for their performance of "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House.
In 2020, Cyrus released MTV Unplugged Presents: Miley Cyrus Backyard Sessions, which featured her sister and fellow singer, Noah Cyrus. Cyrus performed a cover of Britney Spears' "Gimme More" and Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe." In 2023, Cyrus graced fans with yet another stripped-down set for the documentary concert special, Endless Summer Vacation (Backyard Sessions), a large-scale take on the Backyard Sessions format featuring performances from Cyrus' Summer Vacation album.
Miley Cyrus' Television Credits
Cyrus first acting credit was in the medical drama, Doc, acting alongside her father, Billy Ray. And, since her Hannah Montana glory, Cyrus has appeared in several beloved television projects.
In 2016, Cyrus starred as Lennie Dale in Crisis in Six Scenes, Woody Allen's 6-episode limited series. In 2023, Cyrus provided the voice of Van in Nick Kroll and John Mulaney's animated comedy Human Resources.
Cyrus proved she had star power by the time she was 14, making her the perfect Coach of The Voice . Cyrus hopped in the red chair as a Coach for Seasons 11 and 13 of The Voice after being a key advisor in Season 10 of the high-stakes singing competition. In Season 11, Cyrus duked it out for the winning Artist alongside former Coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Alicia Keys. In her Season 13 return, Cyrus was a Coach with Shelton, Levine, and Jennifer Hudson.
Cyrus brought her endless optimism to Team Miley as she guided her team of Artists on the road to victory, dishing her cherished industry insight along the way.
“I am so happy to be back on The Voice, especially because I feel like I learned a lot last season. With experience, I can navigate the show a little bit better...” Cyrus told Us Weekly after returning to the red chair in Season 13. "I don’t think I realized when I started Season 11 how much you create a relationship with the Artists that are on your team. I think I bring a lot of value as a Coach because I’m willing to take the time, over time, to work with my Artists."
Cyrus is one of the select musical artists whose recordings can be found under three different names, thanks to her 2019 role in Black Mirror. Cyrus starred in Season 5, Episode 3 ("Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too") as Ashley O, a pop star whose creativity has been stifled by a controlling management team with bad intentions.
Cyrus recorded "On a Roll" and "Right Where I Belong" as Ashley O for several performances within the episode. Both songs satirized Nine Inch Nails tracks: The dance track "On a Roll" is a sonic switch-up of "Head Like a Hole"; and "Right Where It Belongs" served as the inspiration for Ashley O's "Right Where I Belong."
Miley Cyrus' Films
Cyrus made her film debut at 8 years old — long before she made "The Climb" into superstardom. Cyrus' film debut was in Tim Burton's 2003 fantasy drama Big Fish.
In 2008, Cyrus starred as Penny in the animated comedy adventure Bolt alongside John Travolta, who played Penny's titular dog. As Cyrus reached the height of the Hannah Montana craze, she appeared in a film that solidified her status as a movie star.
Right after Hannah Montana ended in 2010, Cyrus appeared in The Last Song, a romantic coming-of-age film based on the 2009 Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. Cyrus played Ronnie Miller, a rebellious teenager and talented musician who reconnects with her estranged father during a summer in a quiet beach town. Cyrus starred in the film alongside Greg Kinnear and Liam Hemsworth, who played Ronnie's love interest.
Cyrus also released the original song "I Hope You Find It" with the movie's soundtrack, which also included "When I Look at You" from her debut EP.
In 2012, Cyrus starred in the romantic comedy LOL alongside Demi Moore, as well as the action comedy So Undercover as Molly, a private investigator. In 2017, Cyrus provided the voice for Mainframe, an A.I. robot and leader of the Mainframe Ravager Clan in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Cyrus has also made cameos as herself in several films: In 2007, she had surprise cameo (listed as Girl at Pool) in High School Musical 2 ; she appeared in Sex and the City 2 in 2010; she was seen in the 2015 holiday film The Night Before; and she appeared in Dolly Parton's Mountain Magic Christmas in 2022.
Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton's Heartwarming Bond
Cyrus and Parton have one of the most heartwarming relationships in Hollywood. Parton talked about their special bond to the London Evening Standard in 2023.
“I worked with her daddy, Billy Ray, when he had 'Achy Breaky Heart,'' Parton explained. "We toured together for a few years, and of course, Miley became my goddaughter – I was her fairy godmother.”
Parton even guest starred in several episodes of Hannah Montana as Miley Stewart's Aunt Dolly. In Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmas, Cyrus and Parton have a sweet conversation about their connection.
“I am really proud of you. I’ve always been proud of you. And you know the one thing that touches me the most with all of this?" Parton said, according to The Daily Beast. "When you had me on the Hannah Montana show back years ago, you really helped my career! You introduced me to a whole new set of fans, young ones!”
Parton told The Project in 2023 that, when Cyrus was making headlines for her "scandalous" behavior following her departure from Disney, Parton always stood up for her.
"I would always defend her, and I always will, because Miley is one of the greatest talents ever," Parton gushed.
The respect and love is mutual. Cyrus speaks the world of her Country Queen godmother and has collaborated with Parton many times.
Most recently, Cyrus and Parton rocked the world when they teamed up at the end of 2022 to host Miley’s New Year's Eve Party television special on NBC. Parton and Cyrus brought the house down with their duets of Parton's "Jolene," Joan Jett's "I Love Rock n' Roll," and a mash-up of Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" and Parton's "I Will Always Love You."
"I really love Dolly [Parton] for her character, for what Dolly as a character represents, and that the music is true," Cyrus told Rolling Stone.
Miley Cyrus' Philanthropic Foundation
Cyrus has utilized her immense success to become an active philanthropist, providing support for several LGBTQ+ causes. In 2014, Cyrus created the Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to "rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth, and other vulnerable populations."
"I’ve said it before, and in this, I will always be certain: if you think I’m a rebel without a cause, you aren’t paying enough attention," Cyrus told Vanity Fair in 2019.
When speaking to Rolling Stone in 2020, she said, "I feel like I’ve fought for what I really wanted, whether that’s fighting for rights, or against injustices, working with Happy Hippie Foundation."
Originally published Oct 2, 2023.