Miley Cyrus has been at the front and center of fame since birth. Instead of only being recognized as Billy Ray Cyrus’s daughter, she paved a road for herself. In Cyrus’s new single, “Used To Be Young,” released on Aug. 25, she takes listeners through the journey of growing up in the spotlight.
The song immediately sets the tone by beginning with the soft, melancholy keys of a piano. In the music video, viewers see Cyrus emerge from the darkness into an empty room wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt. While the song reflects on her past, some speculate that the song pays tribute to her time on the Disney Channel as well because her character, Hannah Montana, began her career.
In the chorus, Cyrus creates an environment that appreciates the free and wild young adult years, “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.” Specifically, Cyrus is referencing past incidents where she was publicly shamed and also touches on any regrets she has had in life, but she learned to find peace within them.
As the song progresses and builds towards the bridge, the sadness turns into a joyful celebration of the future along with appreciation of the past which created her into who she is now, “Take one, pour it out, it’s not worth cryin’ ‘bout/ the things you can’t erase / like tattoos and regrets, words I never meant / and ones that got away.”
In the video, viewers can see Cyrus smiling and crying while singing the song. An article written by E!News states that Cyrus had set up a livestream so that she and her mom could see one another during the filming of the music video which brought up many emotions for Cyrus. Further in the article, Cyrus talked more about her new single, saying that “It’s really letting people into true emotions, which I don’t feel like you get to see very much of these days.”
The message of the song was taken to a deeper level by releasing it on the same day that 10 years ago her controversial single, “Wrecking Ball,” was released. According to the Guardian, the song was seen as controversial because Cyrus swung naked on a demolition ball, and the public became concerned that the message was about young girls sexualizing themselves to be noticed. In reality, Cyrus saw it as a way to separate herself from her career at Disney. Prior to this new single being released, Cyrus changed all of her YouTube thumbnails to include the title “Used To Be Young” to promote her new single.
Cyrus explained in a caption on Instagram that the lyrics to “Used To Be Young” were written over two years ago during a time she felt the most misunderstood; “Although my work is done, this song will continue to write itself every day. The fact it remains unfinished is a part of its beauty. That is my life at this moment…. unfinished yet complete.”
As a fan, listening to the song becomes more emotional and nostalgic having grown up alongside Cyrus. But even if the listener is not a Smiler, the song is intended to be relatable since the lyrics throughout are not specific. This makes it easier for the audience to connect to the song about being a young adult making tough decisions.