Miley Cyrus Shares a Surprising Criticism She's Received About Her Voice
By Antoinette Bueno
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Miley Cyrus is embracing her inner rock star. The 28-year-old singer opens up to Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich for Interview magazine about her cover of the band's iconic hit, "Nothing Else Matters" -- which she performs on the tribute album The Metallica Blacklist -- and also about finally feeling free to be her most authentic self.
Prior to Cyrus collaborating with WATT, Elton John, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo for a star-studded version of the cover, she sang the 1992 hit live in her shows. Cyrus says "Nothing Else Matters" is "embedded in [her] soul."
"This song means something to me on the deepest level," she tells Ulrich. "What's funny about that recording process was that I cut the vocal in a place that was the polar opposite of where I was the first time I sang it. I recorded it at home, in the middle of a f**king global pandemic, because I couldn't leave my house."
Cyrus says she felt free to experiment with the song because she recorded it at her home, and revealed a criticism of her voice that she's often received by professionals.
"I even went down to some of those octaves, because singing those super-low lead vocals is so satisfying," she notes. "My whole life, whether in vocal training or just continuing to hone my craft, it's always been about, 'Why do you sound like a man? Where's your f**king falsetto, b**ch? Why can't you sing the high octave of 'Party in the U.S.A.' anymore?'"
"In this song, I get to sing in that low register, and I get to live in that authentic, genuine sound," she continues. "My voice is how I represent myself. It's how I express myself. I've worked with so many people who tell me, 'We're going to have to bring in a singer to hit those high parts.' You know, 'falsetto' is this Latin term for when a boy goes through puberty, but they still want him to sing in the choir. It means 'false.'"
Cyrus is adamant that she does not have "a false voice."
"I am who I am," she stresses. "I say what I mean in the moment, even if that changes tomorrow. I was honored by the fact that I didn’t have to sing this song in the way that females are 'supposed' to sing. You can hear that at the end of the song, when I take the gloves off and just start flying. That part of the song really grabs people. It's that lower register of my voice. So I'm grateful to have a song where I can lean into that."
Cyrus also talks about performing at Lollapalooza in July and what it felt like performing live again amid the pandemic.
"It actually made me think of all the amazing footage and photographs of Marilyn Monroe performing for the troops," she says. "I couldn't stop thinking of that iconic image of her, bringing people hope in the form of sexuality and wit and beauty and joy. But at the same time, she was able to offer that because she was so insulated from the experience that the soldiers were living through. She was this breath of fresh air because she didn't have the same darkness and pain and death taking over her aura. But in this case, we've all been soldiers, in our own way. Of course, as you said, you and I have not had the same pandemic experience as most of the population, because our sanctuaries and our homes are truly safe."
"Weirdly, this peace came over me," she continues about performing onstage. "After the chaos of the last year, it was almost like, 'This is it? This is what I'm going to feel?'"