Miley Cyrus has been performing for her entire life as a child actor turned Disney Channel star turned best-selling musician able to slip in an out of different genres as easily as popping on a blond wig to become her childhood alter ego, Hannah Montana.
As the daughter of the mullet monarch himself Billy Ray Cyrus and the goddaughter of Dolly Parton, it is no surprise where Miley's musical chops came from. She already comes from a lineage of country music royalty, but as Nashville tends to do with other female artists, many have tried to discredit her relation to the genre on the basis of her "selling out" by trying out different sounds and styles every album.
Her chameleon-like ability to don all these different aesthetics is what makes her fanbase so large and varied, but Miley has never hidden her country roots no matter the era. Below is a list of Miley's most country-inspired songs throughout the years, showing how she always stayed true to her roots.
'I Miss You' from Meet Miley Cyrus
Miley's star was already on the rise under the Hannah Montana moniker by the time Meet Miley Cyrus came out, and she was ready to show audiences more of what made the person behind the character. Despite the teen pop sound that dominates the album as a whole, she still manages to pull from different genres on each song, and the final song "I Miss You" has the bones of a country song with a yearning chorus underneath the pop veneer.
'These Four Walls' from Breakout
Further separating herself from her Disney persona, "These Four Walls" is a sweeping ballad you may expect from the likes of Carrie Underwood. There's a good deal of angst in her vocals along with her country twang, an early example of her genre-melding capabilities within the country sound.
'The Climb' from Hannah Montana: The Movie
Hannah Montana: The Movie served as a bookend to Miley's Disney career before she would commit herself to become a fully-fledged pop star later in her career, but "The Climb" serves as a touching reflection of where childhood stardom took the young artist while on the precipice of something much greater.
It's become a signature song for Cyrus, often the one song that people outside of the Miley fan-base can sing along to just as well as her oldest fans. In addition to Miley's big country ballad, the movie also included the "Hoedown Throwdown" set in a rural barn party. Miley was particularly excited to revel in her Nashville roots in this scene.
Most recently, Cyrus teamed up with Brandi Carlile for a New Year's Eve performance of "The Climb" and Carlile's "The Story."
The Backyard Sessions (2012)
Miley the pop star has a transitional period after Hannah Montana with the Can't Be Tamed album that stripped most of her country inflection for pure pop sounds, but she was still seen as a teen star. Then she released the Backyard Sessions on Youtube and people thought to take her a bit more seriously.
Her cover of Dolly Parton's signature song "Jolene" sounds as if it were written for Miley's wailing and thick vibrato, and she made the song all her own with a bit more grit than the original. This and her cover of Jeff Buckley's "Lilac Wine" are early examples of how adept she is at making covers personal.
Bangerz Tour (2014)
Miley's 2013 album Bangerz was a pointed attempt at throwing out her past to start over again. It was a bold choice that turned off a lot of fans attracted to her clean teen image but it also openered her up to a whole new fanbase with a strong hip hop sound.
Even without a shred of country sounds on the album, the Bangerz tour often featured Miley covering the Johnny Cash cut "A Boy Named Sue," proving her country knowledge runs deep.
After the personality reset of Bangerz, Miley returned to her roots in full force on Younger Now which is fully fleshed out as unapologetically country. Lead single "Malibu" is a light and breezy fingerpicked melody, and "Rainbowland" features her legendary godmother on the twangy, carefree track.
"High" from Plastic Hearts
Plastic Hearts reveled in punk and metal aesthetics and '80s inspired debauchery, but the yearning ballad "High" is unapologetically country and proves that all genres welcome a little country flair.
READ MORE: Dolly Parton Always Knew Goddaughter Miley Cyrus Was Special: 'She Just Had a Light About Her'
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