After leaving gems like “On a Roll” and “Slide Away” for dead and collaborating with Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey on the underrated “Don’t Call Me Angel,” Miley Cyrus is back with her latest single: “Midnight Sky.” The self-assured new single is an absolute winner; it’s a showcase of natural progression and a culmination of everything we have come to love about Miley.
In the vein of The Weeknd‘s “Blinding Lights,” Dua Lipa‘s “Physical,” and 5 Seconds of Summer‘s “Wildflower,” “Midnight Sky” leans into the 80s nostalgia that has captivated pop music this year. The Bell and Watt-produced track is built on bubbly synths and draws influences from disco, rock, and synthpop. With a sample of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen,” Miley truly transports us to the 80s as she sings about her free spirit, the power of her individuality, and her security in herself. This may be the most confident Miley has ever sounded on a track. Her voice has evolved so much over the years and on “Midnight Sky” she employs her now-signature smoky tone, slight growls, and a rasp that adds rougher textures to the polished production. Sonically, “Midnight Sky” is reminiscent of a darker and more fiery version of Harry Styles‘ “Adore You.” Miley’s assertive vocal performance tears into the synths and it’s all counterbalanced by the murky hidden upper register harmonies in the bridge.
Much like “Slide Away,” “Midnight Sky” highlights Miley’s songwriting prowess in ways that her previous songs hadn’t before. Her picturesque lyrics evoke distinct images of past real-life relationships which add depth to the free-spirited theme of the song. “Midnight Sky” combines the pop sensibilities of Breakout and Bangerz, the rock influence of Younger Now, the vulnerability of Dead Petz, and the punk attitude of She Is Coming to create one the best and most effective singles of the year. This is exactly why Miley is one of the most intriguing pop stars of all time: she truly builds on her past eras. Unlike other pop stars, she doesn’t throw away the sound and style of one album and morph into the next one. She treats each as album as a new layer of her artistry. Every previous iteration of Miley Cyrus can be heard on “Midnight Sky” and that is what epitomizes pop music — constant evolution.