On Sunday night, Miley Cyrus returned to the Billboard Music Awards stage to perform her new single "Malibu" — and she killed it. The distraction-free performance put the spotlight on her stunning vocals and honest lyrics. It was also incredibly emotional — Cyrus broke down crying while singing the low-key, country-tinged track, which was inspired by falling back in love with Liam Hemsworth. In fact, it's hard to believe that it's the same girl who took the stage sporting neon face paint at the BBMAs in 2014.
Three years ago, she did a duet of The Beatles' "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" with the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne. That performance was pretty much peak "old Miley" — she was entering her Dead Petz phase of overtly sexual performances, and pretty much everything she did was loud, shiny, and over-the-top. Tonight's raw, pared-down performance of "Malibu" underscores just how much Cyrus has grown up as an artist, and it was wonderful to witness.
On Saturday, Billy Ray Cyrus gave Elite Daily some insight into his daughter's new direction — which, as he sees it, isn't so new after all. "When I listen to ["Malibu"], I hear a lot of her roots. I hear a lot of the influences that I heard her playing as a little girl," he said. "Back in the day, [she would] maybe put on a CD as we were driving back and forth to the set of Hannah Montana and she would be playing, you know, Eddie James and Johnny Cash… and all these great artists that a lot of kids at that time weren’t listening to." He added, "I hear a lot of those influences in what she’s doing now, and I’m loving it."
Pops isn't the only one. People watching the BBMAs flooded Twitter with praise for Cyrus' moving performance: "The real @MileyCyrus is back"; "Those vocals were amazing!"; "could cry watching miley cyrus perform right now seeing how much peace it looks like she's found"; "Love LOVED seeing the raw emotions on that stage tonight."
Watch part of the performance below and check out the best fan reactions.