At the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night, Miley Cyrus’s younger sister and her father stood together to address the crowd.
“For the first time in years with pants on, my big sis, Miley Cyrus,” Noah shrieked, by way of clarification.
None of her tattoos were visible, which felt notable because Cyrus has many, including several on her shoulders and forearms.
Onstage, Cyrus did not do this dance, but she did begin crying toward the end of the performance.
Historically, Cyrus has been a creative risk-taker-a practice that periodically backfires and gets her in trouble with her public but has nonetheless made her a figure to root for.
It always felt, to me, like Cyrus was methodically working her way toward something interesting; we just needed to wait, to forgive her trespasses, to let her figure out what moved her.
The song is a kind of stocktaking, as Cyrus looks back in amazement at the situation she now finds herself in: reunited with a lost love, and wearing a turtleneck on the beach.
Cyrus herself has been through this before: she was the star of “Hannah Montana,” a wholesome television series on the Disney Channel, long before she was miming a cornucopia of sex acts onstage with Robin Thicke.
It’s not so much that Cyrus has changed, it’s that this is what everybody thinks a grownup woman looks like: pretty, tamed, straight, still, white.