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Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus

Album: BANGERZReleased: 2013Charted:
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  • This big emotional breakup ballad was released as a promotional single from Miley Cyrus' Bangerz album on August 25, 2013. It immediately rolled up to #2 on the iTunes sales chart in the aftermath of Cyrus' controversial MTV VMA performance joining "We Can't Stop" in the Top Five.
  • Cyrus didn't write this synth-driven track. Here are the five who did:

    Canadian composer Stephan Moccio, whose credits include Celine Dion's 2002 hit "A New Day Will Come" and Nikki Yanofsky's official theme of CTV's 2010 Winter Olympics coverage "I Believe."

    British songwriter Sacha Skarbek, who played a key role in the development of James Blunt including co-penning the Worldwide #1 hit, "You're Beautiful."

    Detroit singer-songwriter MoZella (Maureen Anne McDonald), who also co-wrote Fergie's "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)" with Goonrock for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby movie.

    American hitmaker Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), who has written and produced for Katy Perry, Rihanna and Britney Spears.

    Cirkut (Henry Russell Walter), a Canadian producer who works for Dr. Luke's production company.

    Dr. Luke and Cirkut also produced this track. The pair previously linked up with Cyrus when they produced the will.i.am track, "Fall Down," for which the former Disney star provided vocals.
  • Miley's mom, Tish, is a fan. She tweeted: "Wrecking Ball could be my favorite song EVER!!! I've been listening to it for months on end and I NEVER get tired of it! Blows me away"
  • Cyrus told Billboard magazine that she was excited about being able to show off her vocal chops on this power ballad. "A lot of people wanted to try to make me the white Nicki Minaj," she said. "That's not what I'm trying to do. I love 'hood' music, but my talent is as a singer."

    Curus added: "We were inspired by One Republic, and the way Timbaland used to do those big ballads."
  • The song's music video was directed by fashion photographer Terry Richardson, who photographed Cyrus for the September 2013 issue of Harper's Bazaar. The clip begins with a close-up of the singer standing in front of a completely white backdrop and shedding a single tear while performing the song, recalling Sinead O'Connor's iconic "Nothing Compares 2 U" visual. The video becomes more contentious as we see the former Disney star sitting naked on top of a wrecking ball and licking a sledgehammer amidst scenes of her demolishing a three-walled cinder block room.
  • Cyrus told New York's Z100 radio station that her fans need to understand that there is more to the racy visual than her riding around on a swinging wrecking ball naked and suggestively licking a sledgehammer. "I think the video is much more, if people get past the point that I'm naked and you actually look at me you can tell that I actually look more broken then even the song sounds," she said. "The song is a pop ballad. It's one of these songs that everyone is going to relate to, everyone has felt that feeling at one point."

    Cyrus added that the filming of her singing straight to camera as a tear runs down her cheek proved to be a challenge. "If people can take their minds out of the obvious and go into their imagination a little bit and see kind of what the video really means and the way it's so vulnerable and actually if you look in my eyes I look more sad then my voice sounds on the record it was a lot harder to do the video then it was to record the songs," she said. "It was much more of an emotional experience."
  • Cyrus swung her way to a one day record for views across VEVO, as her video for this song accumulated 19.3 million views in its first 24 hours. The previous milestone was held by One Direction whose "Best Song Ever" attracted 12.3 views in one day in July 2013.
  • After peaking at #2 twice on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Party in the U.S.A." and "We Can't Stop," Cyrus finally hit #1 with this song.

    The song's elevation to peak position meant that Cyrus became the first member of her family to reach #1 on the Hot 100. Her father Billy Ray peaked at #4 with "Achy Breaky Heart" in 1992 and brother Trace climbed to #10 as part of Metro Station with "Shake It" in 2008.
  • Cyrus performed the track live for the first time during a four-song performance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival Village in Las Vegas on September 21, 2013.
  • Cyrus told Rolling Stone that the tear she sheds in the video was real - "My dog just passed away," she explained.
  • This was the first song called "Wrecking Ball" to hit the US Hot 100, but the phrase had been picking up momentum in the musical universe. Other acts who had seized the metaphor as a way to express figurative destruction include Lifehouse, whose "Wrecking Ball" came in 2010, and Bruce Springsteen, who used the title for his 2012 album and its title track. Also in 2012, Aubrey O'Day released a song with that name, and Jack's Mannequin gave us "Wrecking Ball Heart."
  • The close up shot of Cyrus shedding a tear in the video was evocative of the 1990 Sinead O'Connor hit "Nothing Compares 2 U," where the Irish singer also cries what she claimed was a real tear. Speaking with Rolling Stone, Cyrus said of the "Wrecking Ball" video: "It's like the Sinead O'Connor video, but, like, the most modern version."

    This statement prompted O'Connor to post an "open letter" on her website expressing concern that Cyrus was being "pimped," and was obscuring her talent. Sinead urged her not to let the music business "make a prostitute of you," adding, "Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited."

    O'Connor also made reference to Cyrus licking a sledgehammer in this song's video and swinging naked on a metal demolition ball. "I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief," she wrote, "that it is in any way 'cool' to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. Please, in future, say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself."

    Cyrus reacted by calling attention to O'Connor's history of mental illness and public meltdowns by means of a screengrab of several tweets O'Connor sent out in the past asking for mental help and prescription medication, as well as comparing her to another celebrity with mental health issues, actress Amanda Bynes.

    O'Connor did not take kindly to the reply and her response was to pen a second open letter, referring to Cyrus as "a danger to women" and threatening her with legal action over her "bullying" tweet.

    Cyrus cut off communication with two more Tweets, the first explaining that she was too busy to write a letter as she would be appearing on Saturday Night Live (a show O'Connor was banned from for tearing up a picture of the pope on her appearance), and the second stating, "if youd like to meet up and talk lemme know in your next letter. :)"
  • This won Best Video at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards. Cyrus celebrated her award by lighting up a joint and taking a puff onstage. The event was held in Amsterdam, where marijuana smokers can't be prosecuted for possessing small amounts.
  • The music clip led VEVO's tally of the most watched music videos of 2013, racking up 371 million views in total after reaching 100 million in only six days. "We Can't Stop" was second place in the list.
  • The song swung back to the #1 position on the Hot 100 after a nine week gap in December 2013 thanks to the viral popularity of a parody video by YouTuber comedian Stephen Kardynal. The nine-week wait for a second reign was the longest in the tally's history for a song in one chart run. Chubby Checker's "The Twist" led in 1960 and again in 1962 but that was over two different chart runs.
  • The tune started life in a writing session between Dr. Luke and Sacha Skarbek intended for Beyoncé. However, as the song progressed, they realized that it wouldn't work for her.
  • The visual won Video of the Year at the 2014 MTV Video Awards. Miley put a spotlight on homelessness when her award was accepted on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless American youths by former homeless Los Angeles youngster, Jesse Helt. He then directed fans to an appeal for donations to fund a new LA homeless centre on Miley's Facebook page.
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