Love is the most common topic in music. Whether it’s a happy relationship, unrequited attraction, a nasty break-up or even love for family and friends, lots of songs are grounded in this powerful emotion. However, an important subgroup of music pertains to women who are fed up with being mistreated in their relationships and choose to share that rage with the world. One recent example that has taken over radio stations and For You pages alike is Miley Cyrus’ new single, “Flowers.”
Cyrus released “Flowers” on Jan. 13th, and its success has already broken records. The single hit 150 million streams on Spotify and also became the most streamed song in a week on the same platform, surpassing the prior record-holder, “Butter” by BTS. The song’s pop-rock sound perfectly complements Cyrus’ raspy, emotion-filled vocals as she affirms that she treats herself better than her former lover could. The song is widely speculated to be about Liam Hemsworth, with whom she maintained an on-again-off-again relationship with since 2009. The couple got married in 2018, but divorced less than a year later and have stayed ‘off’ ever since.
There are many signs that prove Cyrus is talking about Hemsworth within the lyrics, including the music video and the song’s release date (Hemsworth’s birthday). The lyrics of the song’s chorus mirror Bruno Mars’ hit song “When I Was Your Man” from 2012, but flip the script. Miley mentions a series of acts she can do for herself, like “buy myself flowers” and “hold my own hand,” which Mars promises his ex-lover he would do for her if she took him back. While inspiration from Mars perfectly displays Cyrus’ message that it’s better to love yourself than settle for someone who treats you badly, the chorus’ inspiration is even juicier. Unverified information has surfaced from multiple sources that Hemsworth once dedicated “When I Was Your Man” to Cyrus, and they may have even played it at their wedding, further pointing to the The Hunger Games star as the song’s target.
In fact, Hemsworth’s time working on the “The Hunger Games” franchise is also a major piece in fans’ analyses of “Flowers”. It’s rumored that Hemsworth may have cheated on Cyrus with his co-star Jennifer Lawrence during the filming of the series. While Cyrus never publicly claimed that Hemsworth cheated on her, fans have spotted several clues that suggest otherwise. In an interview with Andy Cohen, the host asked Lawrence whether she and Hemsworth had ever kissed “when the cameras weren’t rolling,” and Lawrence responded by saying “Liam’s real hot.” She later implied she “did at one point” choose ‘Team Gale,’ a reference to Hemsworth’s character in the films. In the first half of the “Flowers” music video Cyrus dons a long gold gown that is reminiscent of the one Lawrence wore at a premiere for “The Hunger Games.” This subtle nod to the star seemingly confirms the rumors.
The “Flowers” music video has other clues that hint toward the unsavory side of the couple’s relationship. Fans noted that the suit worn by Cyrus in the conclusion of the video, where she dances around energetically on her own, looks just like the suit Hemsworth wore at the “Avengers: Endgame” premiere months before they announced their divorce. A clip from the premiere’s red carpet recently resurfaced and went viral after the single’s release, showing Hemsworth asking Cyrus if she could “behave for once”after she pretended to lick his face. Before this, Cyrus can also be seen pushing Hemsworth off of her while getting their picture taken. In a clip from a red carpet in 2019, Hemsworth seemed upset when Cyrus was stopped for an interview. When asked how the couple danced together, Hemsworth looked embarrassed as Cyrus began to grind on him. Another rumor circulating online is that the massive mansion in the music video is more than just a set — the house is rumored to be the place where Hemsworth used “to cheat on Miley with more than 14 women while they were married.” While none of the claims have been verified, it’s important to note that they haven’t been denied by Cyrus or her family. In one interview, her sister Brandi Cyrus stated that “I’m not here to say what’s true and what’s not true. Only Miley knows the truth”.
Despite the drama surrounding the song, “Flowers” is a beautiful ballad about self-love and independence. A song similar in content and internet obsession is Shakira’s recent collaboration with DJ Bizarrap. Shakira addresses her own failed relationship with soccer star Pique, who is currently with the young woman he had a lengthy affair with. Shakira makes several digs at both Pique and his mistress with lyrics that translate to “you traded a Rolex for a Casio” and “a she-wolf like me isn’t meant for guys like you,” referencing her popular song from 2009. Fans’ obsession with her song has also led them to analyze it, breaking down her lyric “I’m worth two 22-year-olds” as a reference to the other woman’s age when Pique began seeing her. Shakira also dedicates the song to her success and happiness as a strong single woman, singing that “women don’t cry anymore, they make money.”
Shakira’s anthem joins “Flowers” in a growing repertoire of music by, and for, wronged women. One classic example is Fleetwood Mac’s hit “Silver Spring“ sung by Stevie Nicks. The track from 1976 has resurfaced on Tik Tok due to a powerful video of Nicks belting the song alongside her ex-lover, Lindsey Buckingham, who the song is about. The artist Fiona Apple is a staple for fans of female rage music, as she has many songs that convey the disappointment felt by women after their partners let them down. One of her most popular songs, “Paper Bag,”perfectly encapsulates this feeling throughout the song, especially with the line “I thought he was a man but he was just a little boy.” This sentiment has been expressed across countless genres through hits such as Olivia Rodrigo’s pop ballad “good 4 u”, Paramore’s pop-punk “All I Wanted Was You” and Megan Thee Stallion’s hip hop hit “B.I.T.C.H.” Cyrus’ “Flowers” is in good company among incredible songs that have empowered women for decades and will continue to do so as long as there are men on Earth.
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