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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Coastal Carolina chapter.

Miley Cyrus’s long awaited eighth studio album, Endless Summer Vacation, dropped on March 10, 2023. The album comes nearly a decade and a half after she began her music career at thirteen years old. But Miley is no longer the young girl she was when Hannah Montana first graced our screens back in 2006. This sentiment rings true throughout Endless Summer Vacation.

Similar to Taylor Swift’s recent album Midnights, ESV is split into two sides; AM and PM. Miley notes the AM as “representing the morning time, where there’s a buzz and an energy and there’s a potential of new possibilities. It’s a new day.” The PM tracks stand as “slinky, seediness and kind of a grime but a glamour at the same time. In the evening, it’s a great time for rest, it’s a time to recover. Or it’s a time to go out and experience the wild side.” At the time of my writing this, the album is only a few days old. The internet sleuths are still working out the hidden details and meanings behind particular tracks. Luckily, we have Miley’s Disney Plus Special, titled Miley Cyrus Endless Summer Vacation Backyard Sessions, to give us further context, but more on that to come. However, I definitely noticed the distinct difference in AM and PM concepts during my listening.

Am tracks – “lost in wonderland”

We begin our endless summer vacation with the hit single “Flowers”. Having been released on February 12 and gaining major popularity on TikTok, the song has had time to settle into our brains. Whether you love it or want to stop hearing it every five minutes; there is no denying the power behind this self-love anthem. The sentiment of buying yourself flowers emphasizes the importance of caring for ourselves. Underlying messages about ex-husband Liam Hemsworth also aided in the success of the single. Next we experience “Jaded, my personal favorite. Its lyrics struck a chord and helped me relate to my own experiences. The song acts as a reflection on a past relationship. Sentiments about changing numbers but keeping t-shirts symbolize growing from these relationships in our lives. Basically, you’re going to do what you must to heal, but you’re also going to hold onto the memories, good and bad. Miley then gives us a look through “Rose Colored Lenses” at a relationship where you could “stay like this forever.” The third track acts almost as a juxtaposition in this sense. In my notes, I describe the song as dreamy, poppy, summery goodness. Give it a listen and judge for yourself! “Thousand Miles” and “You” show more of the ‘country Miley’ vibes you may remember from your childhood. She notes the former as being very different from the final product in her documentary. Written in 2016 after a close friend lost their sister to suicide, it is a love letter to her younger sister Noah. Miley also notes that the sadness that inspired the song is now clouded by happier sentiments. Nine-time Grammy winner Brandi Carlisle also features on the track. “You,” on the other hand, emits ‘poppier’ sounds in comparison. Lyrics about “not [being] made for no horsey and carriage” can be in reference to societal views on women and their roles in relationships. This was the song where the production style really stood out to me. Harry Styles fans may recognize similarities to Harry’s House with Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson having produced several songs on ESV. The final AM track comes in the form of “Handstand.” It stands out from the rest of the album with its more explicit content; but it acts as a bridge between the overall concepts of the AM and PM sides.

pm tracks – “have i landed in paradise”

Diving right into the wilder PM side of ESV is “River.” It’s the album’s second single, following a similar promotional strategy as “Flowers.” In her Backyard Session interviews, Miley states that “sometimes we just need a dance floor banger,” which River definitely is. Critics can’t “deny the violet chemistry” with the longest and next song on the album. “Violet Chemistry” was already considered to be one of the best songs of her career. “Muddy Feet” gives us an angrier look at a past relationship. Lines explaining that “you’ve watered the weeds and you killed all the roses” could be in reference to cheating allegations on ex-husband Liam Hemsworth’s behalf. Sia acts as the second feature for the album on the track. However, unlike Carlise, Sia only really appears in the outro; earning her similar treatment as Lana Del Rey received in Taylor Swift’s “Snow on the Beach.” “Wildcard,” once again pokes fun at misogynistic views on women with lyrics such as “do you wanna play house? I could be your wife.” We get gorgeous imagery of paradise with “Island.” Miley “left her lighter at home with all [her] problems” and is reflecting on the feelings of having left a potentially toxic relationship. She is essentially asking herself if she is lost without the person, or if she has found herself in the wreckage. “Wonder Woman” is the last of the newer songs; with a demo version of “Flowers” completing the album at thirteen songs. This track acts as a tribute to Miley’s mother and grandmother while telling a story of personal growth. She beautifully explains that even the strongest people can break down. Miley normalizes people taking a moment for their mental health, which is so refreshing to hear and such a powerful thing to share with her audience. The “Flowers” demo has the same lyrics we know and love (or hate), but the piano overlay gives it more raw emotions. As the song progresses, it feels as though Miley is convincing herself that she can love herself even in her darkest moments. If you haven’t realized yet, I am a massive Taylor Swift and Harry Styles fan, so I will compare the demo to hit singles “Anti-Hero” and “As it Was.” When you listen to the lyrics outside of the pop sounds, they truly hit differently and expose the deeper feelings we may not want to face. Once you realize this, I promise you will have a whole new outlook on all three songs. Dare I say it, but do you think the demo is more powerful than the original?

the backyard sessions – welcome home miley

Like many others, I was pleasantly surprised to see that ex-Disney Channel royalty Miley Cyrus was getting a special on Disney Plus. Miley famously shed the ‘good girl’ persona of her Hannah Montana days in 2013 with a certain performance. I had assumed that she would never associate herself with the company again. However, an Instagram post teasing the special with the caption reading “welcome home” proved me wrong. The Backyard Sessions follow a similar format to Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u and Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions. Miley discusses and performs eight tracks from Endless Summer Vacation in Frank Sinatra’s former home. There is also an even more pleasant surprise in the form of a performance of “The Climb.” While Miley hasn’t said too much about her reuniting with Disney for the special, she does note that the journey makes up her life. 

Overall, Endless Summer Vacation is a win for me. I love when an artist’s work grows with them and that courses through the album’s veins. It is refreshing to see someone experiment with their sound and identify. You can definitely tell that Miley is simply having a great time doing what she does. She notes this album as the best of everything she’s created before in the documentary, even calling it a perfect fit. Personally, I think it’s the perfect fit for your summer playlist!

Riley Maerlender

Coastal Carolina '25

Riley is a junior at Coastal Carolina University. She loves writing for Her Campus and serving on the chapter's exec board. She also enjoys reading, crafts, and all things pop culture!