What Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” Teaches Us About Relationships

With the popularity of everyone’s favorite twerker, Miley Cyrus seems unable to relinquish the spotlight. By now, we all know her more level-headed alter-ego, Hannah Montana, is dead and gone (insert quip about father Billy Ray’s “achy, breaky heart”). We need to look no further than the second single from Miley’s record, Bangerz, for proof: “Wrecking Ball.”

It’s no surprise her image has changed so drastically from her previous innocent pop princess vibe. She has to distance herself from the naïve, clean tween model she once was, because she’s an adult now, technically speaking. What better way than to get pop star cred and turn heads than by growing progressively raunchy and edgy, a stark contrast from her former stardom.

image credit: mileycyrusvevo

Some like it, some hate it, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Miley’s power ballad, karaoke-ready track. (Here’s the Director’s Cut version music video of “Wrecking Ball,” a tight shot of her face during its entirety, unlike the original version of the video, which was considerably more revealing…because she’s nude.)

While the music video of “Wrecking Ball” is right in line with the industry standard, NSFW publicity-boosting formula of less clothes equals more attention, the song’s lyrics are not so glamorous. It would be hard to argue a 20-year-old is relationally mature and a good source of wisdom on the subject, but it doesn’t mean the actual songwriters weren’t putting some thought into what’s typically a vacuous, sugar-coated genre.

Here are 4 truths Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” reveals about the pitfalls of relationships in modern society:

1. Love is not one-dimensional.

Love can be a powerfully destructive force just as it can be an enhancing one. Mainstream pop culture has generally portrayed love relationships rather one-dimensionally, until the last decade or two. Only recently have relationships been portrayed in books, films, and music with the complex truth that love brings people together, but also tears people apart. Real relationships are day in, day out, gritty, boring, thrilling, and challenging all at the same time. To represent love as only one small generalization would be missing out on reality. At the very least, a casual listen to “Wrecking Ball” reminds us that love is messy and convoluted, not always steamy hot and picture-perfect.

2. Infatuation isn’t sexy.

Wanting someone above all else will leave you worse than lonely; you’ll have damaged emotions as well as a deeper emptiness from revering something that’s not divine. People are great, but they’re still just people. Putting a significant other in immortal status isn’t called love; it’s called infatuation. And it hurts because it’s terribly unhealthy, unwise, and destructive. Cyrus’ lyrics:

“Don’t you ever say I just walked away /
I will always want you /
I can’t live a lie, running for my life /
I will always want you.”

When the relationship isn’t reciprocal, love isn’t a two-way street like it’s designed to be. The most powerful, authentic love doesn’t just receive; it also gives. We should not confuse selfless love with foolish infatuation. Selfless love holds strong during a time of temporary unrequited affection, but infatuation is a blinded love with no regard for self-esteem. It’s a dangerous and emotionally harmful relationship, and no kind of abuse should be tolerated.

3. Relationships aren’t about changing another person.

The moment you realize you love a person because you want him/her to change, and not the other way around, you should quit the romance. You may want to salvage the friendship, the sex, or the emotional intimacy, but it will more than likely frustrate you even more. It’s not your job to change someone; that person must want change and enact it on his/her own. Miley sings in the chorus:

“I came in like a wrecking ball /
I never hit so hard in love /
All I wanted was to break your walls /
All you ever did was wreck me /
Yeah, you, you wreck me.”

It’s a warning that the love she held for someone else ended up hurting her. When she tried to fix him, she became the one in need of repair.

4. Love isn’t about winning.

Ask a couple that’s been married for ten or twenty years if the old adage, “All’s fair in love and war” has helped or harmed their romance. If you’re in a relationship where one person always has to make the decision or get the last word in, step back and evaluate the approach you’re each taking. Stubborn hearts will turn resentful over time, only making a more severe relational explosion inevitable. Cyrus declares in the bridge:

“I never meant to start a war /
I just wanted you to let me in /
And instead of using force /
I guess I should’ve let you win.”

Fighting it out may temporarily solve a problem, but it will sour the romance. One of the people will win the argument, but the overall relationship will take a loss.

Though it comes from a different angle, one with a glossy, edgy tone, Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” reminds us truths about love that we’ve heard for a long time. Love is meant to be selfless, but not self-deprecating. To put it another way: love is patient, love is kind. It always hopes, protects, and trusts. Love isn’t just about romance; it’s a choice we must make for the wellbeing of people around us.

Let’s hope Miley and other cultural icons push forward into more similar honest territory, before our harmful perceptions of love wreck our relationships even further.


What do you think about “Wrecking Ball”?


Read more about truth and pop culture:
What Christians Can Learn From “Don Jon”
The Gospel According to Macklemore
11 Reasons “Looper” Isn’t Your Average Action Movie


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