Miley Cyrus’ ‘Flowers’ proves that just because you have moved on to better things, freed from the grasp of a previous relationship, it doesn’t mean that you can’t poke a little fun and be petty about it.
The lead single from her upcoming album ‘Endless Summer Vacation’ which will be released on March 10 this year, just broke the record for the most streamed track on Spotify in one week with 96,032,624 plays, beating Adele’s ‘Easy On Me’. Sure the song’s uplifting message, Cyrus’ wonderful vocal delivery, and its dance-inducing beat and melody have loads to do with it, but contributing to its widespread popularity and success is also its connection to ‘The Hunger Games’ actor Liam Hemsworth who Cyrus was married to from 2018 to 2020. A track and a music video sprinkled with references and easter eggs, many have found joy in putting on their detective hats, seeking a peek into what may have transpired behind closed doors in a relationship that was well documented and publicly followed.
Not to mention, this is an uplifting breakup song that was released on January 13, coinciding with her ex-husband’s 33rd birthday—she doesn’t need to spell out who this is dedicated to. It’s ‘All Too Well’ 2.0. congratulations Liam Hemsworth on taking Jake Gyllenhaal’s place as the world’s most hated man.
The music video. Unless you’re on the lookout for any hints and easter eggs pertaining to the singer’s past unsteady relationship, then there really is not much going on in the music video. A three-minute display of Miley Cyrus enjoying and feeling herself is how I’d describe it. Alone in a massive mansion, the ‘Wrecking Ball’ singer is seen wildly moving and grooving to the beat of her track. A creative decision made with intent, her loneliness is exaggerated and emphasized, showing how happy and content she is even without someone beside her. And her unchoreographed and uncontrolled movements mimic that of someone dancing out of sheer joy—I’m sure all of you have done so while listening to an upbeat track while in a state of pure happiness—she just happens to look really good doing it.
Lyrically. ‘Flowers’ talks about looking back at a past relationship, but seeing that you in fact can still get yourself flowers, that losing that person would not be the end of you, and that you still have yourself. Empowering and liberating, it’s a breakup song that focuses instead on self-love and the beautiful life to look forward to after a split.
The track itself starts out with a somber tone, with Cyrus fondly reminiscing about the past and stating “We were good, we were gold/Kinda dream that can’t be sold/We were right ’til we weren’t/Built a home and watched it burn”. In a switch from regret to acceptance, she then says “Mm, I didn’t wanna leave you, I didn’t wanna lie/Started to cry, but then remembered I” as the song goes into the chorus.
Interestingly enough, the chorus is a direct response to Bruno Mars’ ‘When I Was Your Man’ and it interpolates both the track’s melody and some of its lyrics—the resemblance is uncanny. This is the chorus of ‘Flowers’, “I can buy myself flowers/Write my name in the sand/Talk to myself for hours/Say things you don’t understand/I can take myself dancing/And I can hold my own hand/Yeah, I can love me better than you can”. On the other hand, this is the chorus from Mars’ 2012 chart-topper: “That I should’ve bought you flowers/And held your hand/Shoulda gave you all my hours/When I had the chance/Take you to every party/’Cause all you wanted to do was dance/Now my baby’s dancin’/But she’s dancin’ with another man”.
At the base level, such a move by Cyrus seems like a twist on the typical breakup scenario. Instead of pining for your beloved, desparate to cling onto a bygone relationship, she preaches celebration from its emancipation. However, feeding the fires of public interest, rumors have gone abound that Hemsworth in fact once dedicated the song to her bere—talk about a brutal denial.
Musically. An anthem for the broken hearted, ‘Flowers’ entices you to join Miley to sing and dance away all your pain—you just can’t help it, the music moves you. The track is pretty straightforward and simple. Supplementing Cyrus’ rich and powerful voice is a catchy bass that plays throughout the three-minute track. Bits and pieces of percussion, synths, and strings are sprinkled throughout the song, serving as ear-candy, keeping you hooked and interested.
If you listen closely, it’s not just Mars’ ‘When I Was Your Man’ that ‘Flowers’ took inspiration from. Also in the chorus, if you listen closely, the uplifting strings playing at the background sounds very similar to the one also played in Gloria Gaynor’s classic ‘I Will Survive’.
As a side note, my favorite part of the track is its post-chorus where she says the lines “Can love me better, I can love me better, baby/Can love me better, I can love me better, baby”. I found it interesting how the song uses this part to kick it into another gear just as it starts to slow down towards the end of its chorus.
I can buy myself flowers
Write my name in the sand
Talk to myself for hours
Say things you don’t understand
I can take myself dancing
And I can hold my own hand
Yeah, I can love me better than you can
Miley Cyrus – Flowers
Stills taken from ‘Flowers’ music video