Miley Cyrus turns 18 today, and to celebrate, PopWatch looked back at the EW archives to chart her career – both the highs and the controversies (remember when they were just about the prices scalpers were charging for concert tickets?).
April 2006: EW reviewed the new Disney series Hannah Montana, giving it a C+. “Turns out Saved by the Bell was subtle! Father-daughter team Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus star as a dad and daughter, but stop those achy-breaky hearts midflutter – Hannah Montana is Miley’s show,” Gillian Flynn wrote.
November 2006: EW reviewed the first Hannah Montana album, giving it a C-: “ ‘I’m individual/I’m not like anyone,’ sings Disney Channel heroine Hannah Montana, as played by Miley Cyrus…. By individualism, she means the ability to mimic Avril, Ashlee, and Britney simultaneously,” wrote Chris Willman. “The TV character leads a Superman-style double life: derivative pop star by night, undercover normal kid by day. Here, that duality results in tween-entitlement anthems about how totally awesome it is to be famous, yet go unrecognized at will – a nice fantasy for Brangelina, but a weird one to push on little girls.” It didn’t matter: It held the top spot on Billboard for two weeks, beating first-week sales of one-name acts like Fergie, Janet, and Diddy.
June 2007: EW reviewed the Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus album, giving it a B: “Miley Cyrus, 14, Billy Ray’s daughter and the star of the tween cable hit – delivers pure pop candy (‘Nobody’s Perfect’) and impresses with R&B-tinged ballads (‘One in a Million’). No surprise there. Any risk-taking is relegated to disc 2, where Cyrus tackles more serious subjects like relationships with boys – as opposed to, say, her love affair with an old pair of jeans. Indeed, this Disney Channel staple might just be ready to grow up.”
EW also reviewed the G-rated Hannah Montana: Pop Star Profile DVD, giving it a B+: “This all holds up because Hannah Montana is good tween TV, plain and simple. Minus the whole pop-star thing, Miley Stewart is a normal, silly teenager focused on school, friendships, and an entirely relatable family. ‘I’m a teenager,’ says Miley. ‘We act without thinking and we get zits. It’s what we do.’ Because Miley keeps her celebrity status secret, she manages to do the things most teens do – hit school dances, hang at the beach, and fret over boys – which is refreshing.”
July 2007: Cyrus bested the release of Kelly Clarkson’s My December album by 34,000 copies.
August 2007: The virus and spyware experts at McAfee said the most dangerous search query among currently popular songs was for “Life’s What You Make It” by Cyrus’ Hannah Montana. “Kids who type that into their search engine in the hope of finding downloadable music, photos, and ringtones were most likely to wind up infecting their PCs with redirects to porn sites or data-stealing spyware that enables identity theft,” EW reported.
October 2007: The year’s must-have tween accessory, EW confirmed, was a ticket to Miley Cyrus’ 51-city Hannah Montana tour (the Jonas Brothers opened for her). “Tickets for the Atlanta show, for example, were snapped up in a mere four minutes. Good floor seats are reselling for upwards of $700 on eBay, and even nosebleeds might set you back $150 apiece. (Betcha can’t buy just one, since the target demo demands chaperoning.) Pollstar publisher Gary Bongiovanni compares it to the hysteria of the Backstreet/’N Sync days, with one crucial difference: ‘To tell your little girl no, that you can’t get tickets, is a harder sell when they have Internet access and can go over to StubHub.com and see plenty for sale’ — albeit for hundreds of dollars from eager scalpers.” Angry parents filed lawsuits against ticket brokers, who resold seats to eager fans for as much as $2,100.
Disney announced that Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, would screen for one week as a Disney Digital 3D movie, in February 2008.
November 2007: EW reviewed the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, giving it a B+. “Though Cyrus may be a live-action Disney princess, the 14-year-old superstar is also a determined and likable performer who can command a stage for 80 painless minutes,” Willman said. “To answer your pressing question: She definitely sings live, though prerecorded vocals were likely mixed in with the background singers’ contributions. Her sweat? Also real, the choreography at least 10 grand jetés beyond VMAs-level Britney. As rock, much of the music is kinda convincing. Call her Avril with training wheels, if you will, but some of these power-pop songs — however lyrically insipid — have rock hooks that Lavigne would kill for. (While Cyrus has probably never heard a Joan Jett record, whoever taught her to say ‘Oww!’ surely has.)”
December 2007: Cyrus had two albums in Billboard’s Top 20 albums of 2007, Hannah Montana (No. 4) and Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus (No. 16).
January 2008: EW music writer Simon Vozick-Levinson publicly surrendered to Miley Cyrus after spending a few weeks “absent-mindedly wondering who sings ‘See You Again,’ the extremely catchy pop-rock hit I keep hearing everywhere I turn. The driving rhythm is irresistible; the twitchy melody is compulsively re-listenable; and the lyrics are, no kidding, really well crafted. Especially in the chorus: Has there been a more vivid portrait of a panicky high-school crush on the radio in the past decade?”
EW’s Owen Gleiberman reviewed the film Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, giving it a B-. “Cyrus, an apple-cheeked dumpling, resembles Pia Zadora, but when she exhorts the crowd, it’s with the martial efficiency of Hillary Clinton. Her music isn’t even trying for the beauty of, say, Backstreet Boys, but her message is commanding: It’s that girl power has trumped boy power. The sound leans on Avril Lavigne’s prefab buzz guitar, but it also draws hooks from ’80s songs like ‘Kids in America’ and ‘Summer of ‘69.’ As a soundtrack for empowerment, not to mention tween shopping (is there a difference now?), one could do worse.”
February 2008: Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert opened at No. 1 at the box office with $31 million ($18 million in advance tickets) setting then-records including: the best-ever premiere for a concert film, the biggest opening for a digital 3-D release, the top opening on a Super Bowl weekend, and the best Super Bowl-weekend gross period (beating Titanic’s $25.2 mil take). Disney extended its stay in theaters. The film eventually grossed $65 million domestically.
Cyrus presented at the Oscars, noted in our live blog. (Mandi: Miley Cyrus is abnormally composed for a girl her age. In an annoying way. Annie: Yeah. I’m buyin’ it. I’m just not havin’ it. Like my cake, which has been severely neglected for my keyboard.)
April 2008: At the Kids’ Choice Awards, Cyrus earned Favorite TV Actress and Favorite Female Singer, and performed her hit song ”G.N.O. (Girl’s Night Out).”
Cyrus got a considerable amount of screentime on Idol Gives Back, confusing EW’s Idol expert Michael Slezak: ”The only thing that had me a little befuddled was the fact that Miley Cyrus got to perform not one, but two numbers over the course of the evening. I know, I know, she’s popular with the kids, and she sang decently, but did she really deserve more screen time than the top eight contestants (and season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, relegated to seat-filler status) combined? I mean, aren’t those kids more important to Idol than the Disney Channel star?” Backstage, Cyrus confessed that she had never seen an episode of Idol. Ever. ”I kind of read about it in the magazines,” she said. ”Dancing With the Stars — that’s the only [show] I get involved in.”
Miley hosted the CMA Awards with her father Billy Ray. They performed together; we couldn’t bear to watch.
Controversy! The June issue of Vanity Fair was released showing the 15-year-old singer posed topless, though draped in a sheet exposing her back, for renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. Originally, Cyrus seemed pleased with the shots: In a caption running with the photo spread, she is quoted as saying, “I think it’s really artsy. It wasn’t in a skanky way. Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought that was really cool. That’s what she wanted me to do, and you can’t say no to Annie.” Then, she changed her tune, releasing a statement: ”I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”
June 2008: Kathy Griffin, who said Disney broke off discussions with her to guest on Hannah Montana after her “Suck it, Jesus! This award is my god now!” Emmy acceptance speech, tackled Cyrus in her standup: “How is she 15 and sounds like she’s been smoking for 40 years?”
July 2008: EW reviewed Cyrus’ album Breakout, giving it a B. Though Cyrus said she was growing up, parents still breathed easy, which Willman noted: “The single ‘7 Things,’ which veers from sensitive breakup song in the strummy verses to punky-pop kiss-off in the double-time choruses. Here, her demands for repentance are amusingly age-appropriate: ‘Your sincere apology … when you mean it, I’ll believe it/If you text it, I’ll delete it.’ U go, grl.” It bowed at No. 1.
Some people began to wonder if Miley wanted to get kicked off of Disney’s Hannah Montana when she told E! News her show would end after season 3 even though the network held an option for a fourth season, fans saw a homemade YouTube clip in which Cyrus appeared to mock rival Disney personality Selena Gomez, and scandalous private photos surfaced.
August 2008: LifeStyles Condoms offered Miley Cyrus a million dollars to be their spokesperson, which Joel McHale addressed on The Soup: “She’s also been offered several lucrative contracts from a wine-cooler company, a leading duct-tape manufacturer, and a line of shovels.”
November 2008: During an interview for EW’s Entertainers of the Year issue, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin revealed he’s a Miley Cyrus fan: “EW: The EP features a new version of ‘Lost!’ with a rap verse from Jay-Z. Why that direction?
CM: We’ll work with anyone that we love, and obviously we love Jay. But we’ve done that now, so the most interesting thing that we could do is the complete opposite, and play banjo on a Miley Cyrus record. Which I would equally be as thrilled to do.”
Cyrus voiced Penny in the animated feature Bolt, which EW graded an A-.
Cyrus performed at the American Music Awards and almost landed a spot on Whitney Pastorek’s Best Performances list: “I almost gave Miley Cyrus this slot because it’s her 16th birthday and she overcame many of her pop-robot tendencies (and some seriously creepy backup dancers) to hold my attention through an entire song for the first time ever — but 16 is still too young to be writhing about in public, so my general discomfort disqualified her.”
February 2009: Cyrus dueted with Taylor Swift at the Grammy Awards, helping her sing “Fifteen.”
Miley was hit with a $4 billion class-action lawsuit after TMZ leaked a candid picture of the 16-year-old mugging for the camera with her eyes pulled into a slanted shape. In the suit, L.A. mom Lucie J. Kim claimed that the singer committed a civil rights violation ”in conscious disregard for the rights of her Asian Pacific Islander fans” by appearing in the picture. Cyrus posted an apology on her official fansite, MileyWorld: ”I really wanted to stress how sorry I am if the photo of me with my friends offended anyone. I have learned a valuable lesson from this….”
April 2009: Miley earned Worst Actress in our coverage of the ACM Awards for her performance of “The Climb.” Though we liked the song, “Miley headbanging? Please. That was no Miranda Lambert song. Miley, however, gets points for reminding me of that mountain climber in The Price is Right‘s Cliff Hangers game though.” (Dad Billy Ray took Worse Plug: ”Gettin’ back to Tennessee is more than just one of the central themes of the [new Hannah Montana] film. It’s a way of life to me and Miley. It’s part of who we are. It’s also the name of my new single and the title track of my new album that comes out this Tuesday.”)
Owen Gleiberman reviewed Hannah Montana: The Movie, giving it a B-. “Cyrus, as always, is a professional charmer (it’s hard to resist when she leads a hip-hop hoedown), and the crusty folkiness of Billy Ray Cyrus as her real-life dad is as welcome as ever. But there’s an awfully long stretch of country-living innocuousness before destiny beckons, and Miley has to become Hannah again so that she can lead a benefit concert to save the town from an evil developer. The surface lesson of the movie is that celebrity looks easy but is hard. The real lesson, as always, is that since even Miley has to work overtime to ”be” Hannah, every girl in the audience — if she tries hard enough — can become the star she longs to be. PopWatch went to see the movie, so you didn’t have to. But it opened at No. 1, meaning you went anyway.
Jamie Foxx ripped into 16-year-old Cyrus after a caller on his Sirius XM radio show brought up that Cyrus reportedly threatened to “ruin” Radiohead after they reportedly refused to meet her backstage at the Grammys. Cyrus, Foxx went on to say in an obviously jesting but possibly defamatory riff, should “make a sex tape and grow up. Get like Britney Spears and do some heroin. Do like Lindsay Lohan and start seeing a lesbian and get some crack in your pipe. Catch chlamydia on a bicycle seat…” Foxx apologized to her on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: “I so apologize to [Miley], and this is sincere,” the Oscar winner told Leno. “I am a comedian, and you guys know that whatever I say, I don’t mean any of it. And sometimes, as comedians, as we do, we go a little bit too far.
May 2009: Heidi Montag tweeted Miley Cyrus the following: “Yeah we can’t wait to go to church with you!! We need extra Jesus time before we leave for the Jungle for I’m a Celebrity @NBC.”
June 2009: Released after Cyrus signed on for a fourth and final season of Hannah Montana and announced she would be starring in the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Last Song, the soundtrack Hannah Montana 3 earned a B from EW: ”These tunes from Cyrus’ TV show trade the fiddles for bubble-grunge guitars. ‘I Wanna Know You,’ a duet with David Archuleta, is a mite too earnest, but ‘Supergirl’ rocks like primo Kelly Clarkson.” It debuted at No. 2.
July 2009: Cyrus came under fire again for a racy fashion shoot for Elle. This time she wore “hooker boots,” as one blogger put it.
August 2009: Miley took home six Teen Choice Awards, including Choice Movie Hissy Fit. She also pole danced on top of an ice cream truck during her performance of “Party in the U.S.A.” Dad Billy Ray later said, “You know what? I just think that Miley loves entertaining people. She loves singing [and] songwriting…. I always tell her to love what you’re doing and stay focused for the love of the art and not worry so much about opinion.”
Cyrus’ The Time of Our Lives EP debuted at No. 3, and earned a B+ from EW. “Elsewhere on The Time of Our Lives, an eclectic Walmart-only mini-album, Cyrus works her husky chirp over big-beat disco-garage (‘Talk Is Cheap’), paranoid synth-rock (‘Kicking and Screaming’), and Les Miz-style power balladry (‘Obsessed’). We await her inevitable death-metal move.”
September 2009: Miley and Sheryl Crow stole the show at VH1 Divas: “In my opinion,” EW’s Tanner Stransky wrote, “the show-stopper went to the collab between Miley Cyrus and Sheryl Crow, who teamed up to sing a rockin’ version Crow’s hit ‘If It Makes You Happy.’ (Don’t they look related? Mother and daughter?) Even though I trumpeted the old-timers (like Crow) above, here it was Miley who stole the moment (after kind of screwing up her current hit ‘Party in the U.S.A.’), with a nice assist from Crow. I mean, who knew that Miley could tear through the wailing ‘if it makes you happy!’ line in that song with such control? Crow just let her take the lead.”
October 2009: Cyrus, then dating her Last Song costar Liam Hemsworth, deleted her Twitter account, signing off, “FYI Liam doesn’t have a Twitter and he wants ME to delete mine with good reason.” (Perhaps because she had a stalker?) She later uploaded a YouTube video of herself clarifying her reasons for the exit in a rap. “Supposedly, the reason is because she wants to keep her personal things personal. ‘I want my private life private,’ she raps. ‘I’m living for me.’ Of course, it totally makes sense to want to keep things private, then release a video spelling that out – and simultaneously putting yourself back on display,” Stransky said. “And even though Miley’s final tweet on Thursday said that Hemsworth wanted her to delete her Twitter account, she responded to that in the rap by saying: ‘It wasn’t because my friend told me to. I stopped living for moments and started living for people.’ Nice save.”
According to an online AOL poll, teens and tweens named Miley Cyrus the “worst celebrity influence” of 2009 with a landslide 42 percent of the vote, leaving Britney Spears and Kanye West in second and third place, respectively.
November 2009: Promoting his album Shock Value II, Timbaland told EW that Cyrus, with whom he collaborated, was going to be the next Justin Timberlake. “Man, she’s gonna be like Justin,” said Timbaland. “She comes from that same musical background, where she’s just got it. Her voice is just there. The best way to put it is she’s special. When I worked with her, I was very impressed. I was like, ‘Whoa.’”
Miley alienated some Twilight fans when she revealed the following to a radio station: “I’ve never seen [Twilight], and nor will I ever. I don’t believe in it – I don’t believe in it. I don’t like vampires, I don’t like any of the stuff, like the wolf that pops out of the screen when I’m watching my TV at night. I don’t like it, I don’t want anything to do with it. I don’t like the shirts, any of it.” As EW’s Leah Greenblatt put it, “It’s like the Easter Bunny just pooped on a unicorn.”
A driver on one of Cyrus’ tour buses was killed in an accident in Virginia. Nine passengers were injured. Miley was not onboard. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Bill ‘Uncle Bill’ Douglas,” the Cyrus family said in a statement. “Members of our tour are like members of our family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family in the midst of this tragedy. He will truly be missed.”
December 2009: “The Climb,” got pulled from the Best Song Written for a Motion Picture Grammy ballot after Disney determined that songwriters Jessi Alexander and Jon Mabe hadn’t written it specifically for Hannah Montana: The Movie (as Grammy rules for soundtrack songs require), and withdrew it from the category. On the upside, the video for the song ended 2009 as the second most-watched music video on YouTube, behind Pitbull’s “I Know You Want Me,” with 64 million views. “Party in the U.S.A.” was third with 48 million.
January 2010: Another Cyrus magazine article made headlines, but this time not for the photos. She told Harper’s Bazaar, “My job is to be a role model, and that’s what I want to do, but my job isn’t to be a parent. My job isn’t to tell your kids how to act or how not to act, because I’m still figuring that out for myself. So to take that away from me is a bit selfish. Your kids are going to make mistakes whether I do or not. That’s just life.”
February 2010: Cyrus took part in both the “We are the World” and “Everybody Hurts” covers to benefit Haiti.
March 2010: Cyrus lost the Razzie for Worst Actress to All About Steve’s Sandra Bullock.
Miley mentored on American Idol to promote her new movie The Last Song (which would eventually gross $63 million). She got better reviews for her acting than her mentoring. Giving The Last Song a B, Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote, “And here’s the revelation: Miley Cyrus is a really interesting movie star in the making, with an intriguing echo-of-foghorn speaking voice, and a scuffed-up tomboyish physicality (in the Kristen Stewart mode) that sets her apart from daintier girls in her celebrity class. As Ronnie, turning moods on a dime the way girls her age do, Cyrus sustains a perfectly believable demonstration of post-high-school, precollege female longing. She shows anger, vulnerability, defensiveness. And she anchors a serviceable idealized drama about how a loving relationship between a father and daughter paves the way for that lucky daughter to one day find adult love.”
May 2010: The video for “Can’t Be Tamed” proved Cyrus had flown the Disney coop. Wrote Stransky: “The video … finds our beloved Hannah Montana ensconced in full bird regalia, rocking deep smoky eyes, and being announced as ‘Avis Cyrus, the rarest creature on earth.’ Yes, she’s a bird – a huge-winged bird! – throughout. Which made me feel like she should instead be intoning the words ‘can’t be caged’ – she sits in a cage for much of the clip – instead of ‘can’t be tamed.’ Right? Because birds are not so much tamed as they are caged, right?”
Cyrus’ jewelry line got pulled from Wal-Mart after the accessories were found to have dangerously high levels of cadmium, a toxic metal that can cause cancer when ingested.
Promoting his album Custom Built, Bret Michaels talked to EW about its duet with Cyrus, “Nothing to Lose,” which had suggestive lyrics that raised eyebrows. “I guess in hindsight I should have looked more at the maturity of the song,” Michaels conceded. “But she was never singing it to me, so I never thought about it. It got really controversial for no reason, and it’s kind of a bummer, because it took it away from how beautiful the song really is.” She was repaying him for helping her with her cover of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”
June 2010: Cyrus made headlines after she participated in a faux girl-on-girl kiss during a performance of “Can’t Be Tamed” on Britain’s Got Talent. She did it again, and again on tour. We were only upset because her explanation was a missed opportunity. On her website, she wrote, “I really hope my fans are not disappointed in me because the truth is I did nothing wrong. I got up there and did my job which is to perform to the best of my ability. I just want to put an end to this right now and just say one thing to everyone out there making this performance such a big deal. GET OVER IT! NOTHING HAPPENED. THERE ARE WAYYYYYYY MORE IMPORTANT THINGS IN THE WORLD.” We wished she’d said, “I really hope my fans are not disappointed in me because the truth is, even if I had kissed her, I did nothing wrong.” At least then, her wild streak – she can’t be tamed! or be bothered to use apostrophes! – would have a purpose (other than attempting to prove that 17 isn’t too young to dress like Beyoncé).
June 2010: Perez Hilton was all about posting photos of scantily-clad Miley, though at least the ones of her at the MuchMusic Awards were real.
Her album Can’t Be Tamed, debuted at No. 3. EW gave it a B-. ”It’s hard not to read an indictment of her time with the House the Mouse Built in many of Can’t Be Tamed’s defiant lyrics,” Greenblatt wrote, “from the girl-on-the-verge title track to thumping album opener ‘Liberty Walk’ (‘Free yourself, slam the door/Not a prisoner anymore’) and downright mutinous ‘Robot’ (‘Stand here, sell this, and hit your mark/…I would scream but I’m just this hollow shell’).”
July 2010: The final season of Hannah Montana premiered. We provided you with this photo comparison.
August 2010: Cyrus again won multiple Teen Choice Awards, defending her Choice Movie Hissy Fit title thanks to The Last Song.
September 2010: Miley made a video, nearly 10 minutes long, debunking the rumors that emerged about her over the summer.
The video for the single “Who Owns My Heart” debuted. Stransky’s take: “Just like the perplexing lyrics in the song (‘Who owns my heart? Is it love or is it art?’), the dancey, vampy video makes little effort to string together a storyline beyond Miley waking up in a bed, heading to the club to gyrate (complete with a head of crimped hair, scandalously low-cut gold lamé top, and lots of bangles), and then head back home. Truly, the theme of this video could be: hair! There’s a lot of it flying around! There’s almost a rave-y vibe to the whole thing, too. But who’s complaining? Not us! It’s fun! And really sultry!” The Parents Television Council complained.
Cyrus came in at No. 20 on EW’s list of the 40 Highest Grossing Stars Under Age 40.
Miley’s parents filed for divorce on Oct. 27, after 17 years of marriage.
November 2010: She’s attached to other films, but she signed on to what quickly became our favorite, the action-comedy So Undercover. According to Deadline, she will play “a tough, street-smart private eye hired by the FBI to go undercover at a college sorority.”
Cyrus earned a C+ for her goth performance of ”Forgiveness and Love” at the American Music Awards. She celebrated her birthday early with an afterparty wearing a midriff-baring black leather halter top with feather straps and black leather pants. She was photographed canoodling with 18-year-old Nickelodeon star Avan Jogia.