Miley Cyrus on Duetting With Dua Lipa, Covering Courtney Love, and Dating During COVID
“I’m free and can do whatever the f-ck I want which feels great for the first time in years and years,” singer tells Howard during her interviewDecember 2, 2020
Leaving home isn’t something Miley Cyrus does often these days, but she was willing to wake up early and head to the SiriusXM Garage in Los Angeles on Wednesday to once again talk with Howard and Robin. Of course, in order to pull off an appearance like this one Miley made sure to remain several feet away from her band members, all of whom were wearing masks, face shields, or both.
“I’m happy to see your smiling faces,” Miley told Howard and Robin over Zoom. “This is my first live experience since this pandemic … it’s kind of startling.”
As challenging as 2020 has been for all (including Miley), it also marked the release of her seventh studio album, “Plastic Hearts.” She was more than willing to perform some of her new music as well as a surprising cover song live during her return to the Stern Show. Check out all of the highlights from Miley’s latest visit with Howard (below).
STAYING SAFE, STAYING SINGLE?
One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic for Miley Cyrus is that new health guidelines have actually given her back some anonymity. “This mask has actually given me a sense of normalcy,” she told Howard. “I go places and I hide under this mask – I look like everybody else. The only thing that ends up giving me away is the voice.”
She’s tried disguising herself further by putting on a high-pitched baby voice while out in public, but she admitted that hardly ever works.
“This time has been really interesting and challenging for any sort of dating or meeting people,” Miley said of what it’s been like being single during the pandemic. She’s keeping her options open but if you think you can score an in-person date with Miley, think again.
“I do a lot of FaceTime sex – it’s the safest sex. I’m not getting COVID,” she revealed to Howard. “I am definitely not going to be doing anything that’s irresponsible for myself or for other people … it’s just ridiculous for anybody that won’t take the right precautions to keep each other safe. It’s fucked up.”
Miley’s personal life has been tabloid fodder for over a decade now but perhaps never more than in the past year and a half which saw her in relationships with reality TV star Kaitlynn Carter and Australian pop singer Cody Simpson. Both of those romances followed her divorce from actor Liam Hemsworth whom she married in 2018 but had been with since she was just 16 years old after the two starred together in the film “The Last Song.”
“I don’t know if we ever really thought we were actually going to get married,” Miley told Howard on Wednesday of her long relationship with Hemsworth. What might have made the two rush down the aisle was seeing their Malibu home destroyed in a November 2018 fire. Miley lost nearly all of her prized possessions: photographs, original music, and her beloved shrine to Elvis Presley.
“I just clung to what I had left of that house which was me and him and I really do and did love him very, very, very much,” she said.
Some who don’t actually know Miley have assumed she’s simply a “free bird” who cannot be tied down to one person. She told Howard that’s simply not the case.
“I am not a free bird. I love structure. Structure keeps me safe and keeps me my best and I love to be anchored and weighted by people. I don’t want to be friends with feathers, I want you to be, like, cement for me,” she explained.
Howard asked if he could be of any assistance in setting Miley up with someone and asked if it mattered if that lucky person was a man or woman.
“I love people, I love who I love, I’ve had relationships with all genders and I’m down,” she told him. “Right now I’m kind of in the mood for some D, but I’m down for whatever, honestly.”
STOP THE PARTY
Self-reinvention is something Miley is well-practiced in, so much so that she told Howard she says goodbye to herself every night before bed since tomorrow brings on a new day and a new Miley. One piece of herself that Miley has been hard at work on in 2020 is sobriety. It’s a daunting challenge, especially inside of a global pandemic which forces her to stay at home alone most of the time, but Miley noted it hasn’t been so hard for her.
“When I want to do something, I do it and there’s just no question about it,” she stated.
Though she hasn’t used drugs at all recently, Miley did tell Howard she’d been drinking a few weeks ago. She doesn’t mind being truthful about the incident but would rather not call it a relapse, instead opting to call it a regression.
“For me, drinking hasn’t been my demon, but it does not get me going any further,” she explained. “If anything, it just makes me not reach my full potential which is unacceptable to me.”
FRIENDS IN LEGENDARY PLACES
“If you’re lonely when you’re alone you’re in bad company,” Miley said with a smile of what it’s been like living on her own lately. Family remains a central part of her life – she’s still close with dad Billy Ray and mom Tish as well as her many siblings. Her family may be big but she told Howard her circle of friends is relatively small.
“I don’t have many friends. I have good friends. I have quality over quantity,” Miley said.
The friends she does have include some of the biggest names in music and entertainment, however. Miley has a tattoo of a note her pal Yoko Ono sent her not too long ago and she still corresponds with godmother Dolly Parton over email. Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stevie Nicks even has a nickname for Miley – Smiley Baby.
When Miley wanted to sample some of Nicks’ hit song “Edge of Seventeen” for her new track “Midnight Sky,” Stevie not only gave her permission but told Miley she could borrow from her anytime she wanted.
“So I’m like, ‘Shit, if you’re feeling that way, can I borrow you and your time?’” Miley recalled telling Stevie. The two were soon in a studio together recording a mashup of the two songs, which Miley also performed on the Stern Show Wednesday.
The importance of performing her hit songs for fans is a lesson Miley said she learned from Paul Simon when the two ran into each other backstage at the “SNL 40” anniversary event in 2015.
“I got in trouble with Paul Simon because my set … was kind of shitty,” she told Howard, explaining the “Mrs. Robinson” singer had asked Miley which of her songs she planned to do in concert on an upcoming tour. When she listed off some obscure tracks and made no mention of some of her more popular singles, Paul told her she can’t do that to her paying fans.
“It was good to me, but I didn’t pay to see me. I can sing that shit for free in my own time,” Miley admitted.
COVERING CORNELL and COURTNEY
It was at “SNL 40” that Miley did a rendition of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” – just one of many covers Miley has received rave reviews for, including from Howard himself.
“I love to hear artists interpret other people’s songs. But what I really like that you’re doing is you’re picking songs that I never would have thought that you would pick. You surprise me,” he told his guest on Wednesday.
One song Miley is hoping to cover someday is Joni Mitchell’s “California,” though she says she’ll need a lot of practice in order to nail the falsetto. Performing classics like that allows Miley to not only breathe new life into an older song but also introduce her fans to music they never would’ve heard otherwise.
“Most of my audience they don’t know the music that we cover,” she told Howard. “There was a minute where if you Googled ‘Jolene’ it would say that it was my song.”
Taking on songs like Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” also tends to win over new fans who would’ve otherwise thought Miley was incapable of covering tracks with such demanding vocals. Such was the case when Miley signed on to perform Temple of the Dog’s “Say Hello 2 Heaven” at the 2019 Chris Cornell tribute concert. She told Howard that night was “an out of body experience” for her.
“I’d never really done an event like that before,” Miley said. “The roster of people who were lined up to do this … I know I was the one that didn’t fit.”
Her goal was to win the crowd over at the Los Angeles Forum that night. If the standing ovation she received at the end of her performance is any indication she more than succeeded.
“I really just felt moved by the spirit of how much love there was in the room for Chris Cornell and it really didn’t come from me, that performance,” she continued, explaining how that shared love for Chris Cornell elevated her performance and the performances of each person who took the stage that night.
“Music is where I can hide … where I feel the most secure,” Miley added, telling Howard she isn’t easily intimidated by performing with or for other A-list musicians. On Wednesday morning, Miley surprised Howard yet again by selecting the Hole song “Doll Parts” to cover live on the Stern Show.
“No one’s ever heard me do it. I’d never heard me do it until yesterday … this is just for you,” Miley told Howard before launching into the tune.
DUETING WITH DUA LIPA
Most Stern Show fans will remember the duet Miley did with Robin Quivers of the holiday classic “Silent Night” back in 2018. While Howard’s co-host isn’t sharing the mic with Miley again on her new album “Plastic Hearts,” several other featured artists are making appearances including Joan Jett, Billy Idol, and Dua Lipa who lends her voice to Miley’s new song “Prisoner.”
“I like this video very much,” Howard told Miley of the new “Prisoner” music video which sees the two singers scantily clad and writhing around with each other in between delivering verses.
“She’s super fucking hot. But see, that isn’t it for me. That’s not what turns me on,” Miley said of her “Prisoner” partner. While she finds Dua Lipa plenty funny, Miley explained she needs someone who can truly make her laugh. Plus, Dua Lipa is currently taken.
“She has a boyfriend, I’m free and can do whatever the fuck I want which feels great for the first time in years and years,” Miley said.
MAKING THE BAND
Standing six feet behind Miley on Wednesday were members of her band, some of whom she’s been working with for around 15 years: Mike Schmid on keys, Stacy Jones on drums, Jane’s Addiction’s Chris Chaney on bass, and Jamie Arentzen and Max Bernstein on guitars. During the interview, Howard was excited to learn Max’s father was acclaimed investigative journalist Carl Bernstein.
“That guy’s a hero of mine. It’s an honor to meet you and tell your father I said hello,” Howard told Max.
“Do you write as well? Can you do a little journalism for us?” Robin Quivers joked.
Though Carl Bernstein became a household name for the reporting he and Bob Woodward did on the Watergate scandal and President Nixon’s subsequent resignation, his son explained how his dad always longed to be a rock critic. While writing for the Washington Post in the 1970s, Bernstein gave Led Zeppelin a bad review for their first concert in D.C. (something Max teases him about still). But when the Post didn’t hire him to take over as their main rock music reporter, Bernstein planned to leave the paper and write somewhere else.
“Then one night he had to cover a break-in at a hotel … then he was not a rock critic,” Max said with a laugh.
Howard couldn’t help but ask if there was any romance happening between Miley and one of the guys in her band.
“No, no, no, no, no, no!” she exclaimed. “Don’t even mention it or I’ll never be able to look at them again!”
Miley views her band as part of her family – people she loves but can’t fall in love with. “They’ve had to look at my ass a lot, though, because I went through a big thong-unitard phase,” she laughed.
“Even if there was a … horrible nuclear war and the government came to you and said ‘Miley, you have to repopulate the earth with one of your bandmates,’” Howard asked with a chuckle.
“I’m a philanthropist and a humanitarian … if that is what it fucking came to, sure,” Miley replied.
Miley’s new album “Plastic Hearts” is available now.