Behind the Meaning of “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus

It’s a banger. It’s heartfelt and big. It’s powerful. It smashed the charts. It’s Miley Cyrus’ hit single “Wrecking Ball” and it’s the song that solidified her as a pop star, pushing her from her role as a Disney child television star into a force to be reckoned with in music.

Videos by American Songwriter

Let’s dive into the story of the song’s history and meaning below.

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The Song

Written by Mozella, Stephan Moccio, Sacha Skarbek, along with Dr. Luke, Cirkut, and David Kim, the song appeared on Cyrus’ fourth studio album, Bangerz, in 2013. It was originally released as the album’s second single.

The song was originally written with Beyonce in mind before it was given to Cyrus. In fact, Skarbek tweeted at one point, “Beyonce song now becoming a Miley Cyrus song?!! Good/bad? I don’t know??!!!!”

The track debuted at No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 and later it peaked at No. 1, making it Cyrus’ first No. 1 song. The music video helped it rise up the charts (more on that later). It stayed at No. 2 for two weeks in a row and then nine weeks later it again hit the top spot, making it the largest gap between No. 1 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 within a single chart run.

Cyrus said that the song was inspired by “OneRepublic, and the way Timbaland used to do those big ballads.”

It’s since sold millions of copies in the U.S. Outside America, the song hit No. 1 in Canada, Hungary, Israel, Lebanon, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

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After two opening stanzas describing an up-and-down relationship, Cyrus belts out 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

Later in the song, she gets reflective, singing:

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
I never meant to start a war
I just wanted you to let me in
I guess I should’ve let you win

Don’t you ever say I just walked away
I will always want you

The Music Video

The video, which features, among other things, Cyrus knocking down walls in her underwear and her sitting nude on a giant wrecking ball, debuted on September 9, 2013. The video begins with a closeup of Cyrus’ face as she sings with tears in her eyes, reminiscent of the music video for the song “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Connor.

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The video once held the Vevo record for the most views of a video in the first 24 hours after it was released, with 19.3 million streams. It won her Best Video at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards and Video of the Year at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.

Cyrus later performed the song on Saturday Night Live.

50 Cent and Karaoke

Perhaps shocking the world, rapper 50 Cent once said that he would do the song “Wrecking Ball” at Karaoke just to surprise people, noting, “Just a big pop song that no one would suspect, just to fuck with them. Make them go, What?

Sounds about right. Check out Cyrus’ music video for the track below.

Miley Cyrus Photo by RCA Records)

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