Miley Cyrus’ Best Cover Songs, Ranked
By Radio.com Staff
Miley Cyrus‘ ability to make every cover her own has certainly improved over time. We’re not even going to subject anyone to listening to her cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and chalk it up to the fact that she was a little too young to really “get” grunge.
But as she’s grown into her own, shedding her pop-country roots and moving toward a Debbie Harry/Madonna forthcomingness, the other songs she embodies start to ring true to who she is as a singer and an artist.
We’ve collected her best covers, some we wish she’d bring to a formal studio setting, and some that work best in their stripped-down and impromptu locale.
What’s your favorite Miley Cyrus cover?
10. “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol
For her performance of “Rebel Yell” at the 2012 VH1 Divas concert, Miley seemed to be channeling Adam Lambert. Unfortunately, her high-pitched down-home squeal didn’t necessarily leave us wanting more, more, more. She did however do a great job of copping Billy Idol’s look of leather and spikes – both the metal ones on her jacket and the bleached blond ones on her head. The number also gave us the first inclination of what she really meant when she swore she couldn’t be tamed.
9. “I Love Rock and Roll/Cherry Bomb/ Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and The Runaways
Back in 2010, a young Miley was trying to prove she was a little more rock and roll than her Hannah Montana persona allowed. And what better way to do that than with a medley of Joan Jett hits. From the looks of this Rio rendition of the Runaways “Cherry Bomb” she clearly already had Cherie Currie’s jailbait act down pat. And when you hear the young Disney star shout that she doesn’t give a damn about her bad reputation, you can’t help but think she was foreshadowing the twerking that was yet to come. But when it’s all said and done, we really wish she would have taken a shot at Jett’s 1988 brazen pop hit, “I Hate Myself For Loving You” since it’s a sentiment we imagine Miley could relate to.
8. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper
With a subtle twang, Miley’s rendition of the 1983 hit off her 2008 album, Breakout, is a kiddie friendly remake perfectly designed to play over and over on Radio Disney. Her rendition also proves once again that it’s nearly impossible to mess up Lauper’s perfect pop ode to female independence.
7. “Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley
Though this song was originally written and performed by James Shelton in the ’50s, and covered by Nina Simone in the ’60s, we’ll assume Miley was looking to Buckley’s version off his 1994 album, Grace, as inspiration. Especially knowing the fact that last year she tweeted a quote from Buckley in response to rumors that her and then fiancé Liam Hemsworth were on the rocks. For her backyard rendition of the song, Miley keeps things simple, allowing her to show off her voice without any gimmicks and prove she really can sing. We did however take a few points off for her having to read the lyrics off a piece of paper.
6. “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1” by The Flaming Lips
This version of the song isn’t perfect, but surprisingly it’s Wayne Coyne who has trouble keeping it together, joking that he might have had a little too much to drink the night before. Or perhaps he was partaking in a few recreational activities that involved the 24-karat gold rolling papers Miley is currently selling on her Bangerz tour. Either way, we forgive the off key notes for the chance to see Miley get all starstruck over sharing the stage with Coyne.
5. “Look What They’ve Done To My Song” by Melanie
Miley returns to her country roots for her rendition of Melanie’s cheeky folk song that is all about the singer’s experience in the music industry, which she admits made her go a little crazy. Miley was also pushed to her brink after her experience with Disney, so maybe that’s why you can’t help but feel like the former child star is speaking from the heart when she yelps, “If the people are buying tears/Then we’ll be rich someday, Ma.” Of course, no one can stop Miley from being Miley now.
4. “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” by Arctic Monkeys
Miley could be covering Drake’s “Marvin’s Room,” but Miley’s known predisposition for weed of course would have her covering the stoned-dialing anthem of 2013.
3. “Hey Ya” by OutKast
There is something just so sublime about this cover. The twang comes out in her voice and it’s just so unadorned and simple and lovely. It doesn’t go for the original’s 60’s pop feel, nor does she strip all the fun out of it. It’s the sound of her mezzo voice trusting the song with no ornaments or spectacle. And what do you know: it works really well.
2. “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey
“Summertime Sadness” has been through the ringer once or twice, even with a remix that garnered the song a GRAMMY. Miley’s version takes Ms. Del Rey’s voice, accent and all, and puts a little more fight into the original dirge. It’s Miley’s inherent energy, baked into her persona, that gives life to even the most elegiac ballads.
1. “Jolene” by Dolly Parton
Miley didn’t sway too far from her comfort zone with this country cover, but with her husky twang-filled delivery of “Please don’t take him just because you can,” she strikes a little fear in Jolene and definitely makes her godmother Dolly proud.