Divorce, the Stigma Around “Forever,” and Deeper Meaning Behind Miley Cyrus’ 2020 Single “Midnight Sky”

Within a decade, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth broke up, made up, got back together, and eventually married in 2018. Ultimately, their marriage ended two years later, capping off their decade together. Cyrus chronicles their rocky, 10-year run in her 2020 single “Midnight Sky.”

Videos by American Songwriter

Released on Cyrus’ seventh album Plastic Hearts, “Midnight Sky” was co-written with Louis Bell, Ilsey Juber, Jon Bellion, Alexandra Tamposi, and Andrew Wotman and peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Sonically, Plastic Hearts was also a departure for Cyrus, centering around a more glam-rock and synth-pop, sound. Also featuring guest vocalists Stevie Nicks, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, and Dua Lipa, the album went to No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

[RELATED: Miley Cyrus Albums to Fit Your Different Moods

The Meaning

Right from the beginning, Cyrus references her independence following her divorce and the feeling of being trapped in her former relationship in “Midnight Sky” with lyrics coiling around losing and then finding oneself.

It’s been a long night and the mirror’s tellin’ me to go home (home)
But it’s been a long time since I felt this good on my own
Lotta years went by with my hands tied up in your ropes
Forever and ever, no more

“You just definitely want to feel like you are just in control of your own life and not trying to control anyone else’s,” said Cyrus of the song. “So for me to be able to really have a good, clear understanding of the last two years, which there [were] some traumatic experiences—losing the house in Malibu and going through a really public breakup—I think I just really needed some clarity. And so it was just really important to me to be able to like really sit with my thoughts.”

By the chorus, Cyrus relishes being a freer spirit again and also references her liaison with Kaitlynn Carter. The two were spotted kissing on a boat in Italy several months into Cyrus’ marriage.

The midnight sky is the road I’m takin’
Head high up in the clouds

I was born to run, I don’t belong to anyone, oh no
I don’t need to be loved by you
Fire in my lungs, can’t bite the devil on my tongue, oh no
I don’t need to be loved by you
See my lips on her mouth, everybody’s talking now, baby
Ooh, you know it’s true, yeah
That I was born to run, I don’t belong to anyone, oh no
I don’t need to be loved by you

Cyrus said the song was about her relationship “with the stigma” and how you can often be considered a “failure” when a relationship doesn’t work out.

“I just don’t think that,” said Cyrus. “I think we’re kind of set up for devastation, in that, from the time we’re little kids, we’re taught to claim other humans as our best friends forever. And you just don’t know who you’re going to be sitting with here right now. You never know who you’re going to evolve to be and who they’re going to evolve to be.

So I think that we, especially as women in relationships, a lot of the time we can get villainized when ‘forever’ doesn’t happen.”

Photo: Mike Coppola/FilmMagic

How to Re-Watch the 2023 CMA Awards