Mi­ley Cyrus’s Best Cov­ers, Ranked

New York Magazine - - THE CUL­TURE PAGES - justin curto

mi­ley cyrus has long rec­og­nized the power of a good cover and has the voice to back it up, bend­ing songs to her will for the bet­ter part of a decade. With her new cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” now stream­ing and a “Back­yard Ses­sions” spe­cial on MTV Un­plugged pre­mier­ing Oc­to­ber 16, here are Cyrus’s top five.

5. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” 2015 (Crowded House) with Ari­ana Grande

The “Back­yard Ses­sions” take of this cover is the def­i­ni­tion of casual, with Cyrus and Ari­ana Grande wear­ing one­sies and hang­ing out like long­time friends, talk­ing dur­ing the in­stru­men­tal break and mess­ing up their lines. They’re a good match mu­si­cally, too: Grande’s silky vo­cals bal­ance Cyrus’s smok­ier tone. When they re­vived the cover at Grande’s “One Love Manch­ester” con­cert, it took on new mean­ing as a song of re­silience, even as it pro­vided a much­needed mo­ment of lev­ity.

4. “An­drog­y­nous” 2015 (the Re­place­ments) with Laura Jane Grace and Joan Jett

She doesn’t take a verse or cho­rus for her­self, but Cyrus is the glue that holds to­gether this cover of one of the bet­ter songs ever writ­ten. Her joy is in­fec­tious as she har­mo­nizes with her hero Joan Jett and rock trail­blazer Laura Jane Grace. Even­tu­ally, Cyrus turns to pas­sion­ate shout­ing that should make Paul Wester­berg proud; a month later, when she came out as gen­der-fluid, fans would learn what the words truly meant to her.

3. “Lilac Wine” 2012 (standard, writ­ten by James Shel­ton)

Cyrus wasn’t even old enough to drink when she de­liv­ered what may well be the de­fin­i­tive take of this then-62-year-old standard—out­do­ing Eartha Kitt and Nina Si­mone. Her voice is as en­tranc­ing as the elixir she’s singing about, but she per­forms with un­matched con­trol, push­ing and pulling the notes to­ward a huge, stun­ning fi­nale.

2. “my fu­ture” 2020 (Billie Eilish)

Con­do­lences to Billie Eilish, be­cause Cyrus sang this song as if she her­self had writ­ten it, and she turned it into a mas­ter class in re­straint. Her raspy belt makes the it sound big­ger than you ever thought it could, be­fore she reins her voice back in for smooth runs that string you along. The con­vic­tion she brings to each line al­lows Cyrus to make Eilish’s an­them for a gen­er­a­tion at a cross­roads into her own, turn­ing it into a state­ment from an oft-mis­un­der­stood artist en­ter­ing the next stage of her ca­reer. 1. “Peace Will Come (Ac­cord­ing to Plan)” 2015 (Me­lanie) with Me­lanie Safka

You can see in Cyrus’s face just how ex­cited she is to be singing with Me­lanie Safka, a ’60s folk icon she first cov­ered back in 2012. Or you can hear it af­ter the sec­ond cho­rus, when Cyrus emotes with a re­li­gious fer­vor she has never quite matched. That’s the stand­out mo­ment of this per­for­mance, but hear­ing Cyrus and Safka gently land their duet is im­pres­sive in its own right, as their voices meld and make them sound like the in­ter­gen­er­a­tional soul sis­ters they are. To lis­ten to it is to ex­pe­ri­ence a per­fect minute of the peace they’re singing about.

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