Rocking a short, black backless dress, the songstress delivered a moving rendition of her new single before a row of orchestral performers. The entire TV performance was cast in black and white, driving home the somber tone of the track.
Just before taking the stage, cameras caught Cyrus backstage with none other than Kaitlynn Carter, who she was spotted kissing in Italy during a getaway just before news of her marriage ending arrived.
A source recently told ET that Hemsworth made the decision to end his marriage because he realized that it's "time to move on." Meanwhile, a source told ET that Cyrus -- whose "Mother Daughter" song was up for Best Power Anthem and Song of Summer at the VMAs -- "still feels the need to explore herself, her sexuality and her music."
Cyrus' decision to perform was a surprise to many, as she previously said she would not take the VMAs stage this year.
"No f**kin way," Cyrus commented on a July fan post saying they wouldn't watch the broadcast unless she took the stage.
Around the same time, Cyrus agreed with another fan comment that read, "They care more about a f**king green screen than a message to the world. Nominate anyone but at least do not use the image of Miley to promote their damn prizes @vmas and #SheIsComing #Peace"
Regardless of how she got there, Cyrus' "Slide Away" performance now fits perfectly into the canon of her much-discussed previous times on stage at the annual awards show.
At the 2013 VMAs, Cyrus made headlines when she performed twerk-heavy renditions of "We Can't Stop" and "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke. During the provocative performance, Cyrus came out in a teddy bear onesie and later stripped down to a flesh-toned, latex bikini.