Miley Cyrus is a bit of a polarizing figure in the music world, but when she hits it big with a song, man is it a success story. She released Flowers as the debut single of her 2023 album Endless Summer Vacation to massive critical and fan praise. It was one of the biggest hits of recent years, an international success that took the world by storm.
But it isn’t just a simple and catchy pop track. There’s nuance to the lyrics, and it draws on deeply personal—yet very public—events in her life. In this article, we’ll look at the success Flowers achieved, the story, the real meaning, and the drama behind the song.
The Success of “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus
Flowers was the lead single for Cyrus’ eighth studio album Endless Summer Vacation in 2023. An absolute smash hit and a viral trend, it’s no surprise this single broke records. It became the most-streamed track in a week on Spotify in both its first and second week of availability and became the fastest song to gain over one billion streams on the platform, doing so in only 112 days. It would debut at the top of the Global 200, reaching the number-one spot in 40 different countries’ official charts.
In addition to being a radio and streaming hit single, it was one of the biggest viral sensations of early 2023. The song was quickly made into a sound on TikTok and spawned numerous challenges and dance videos. On top of that, plenty of women took to it as an anthem of getting away from toxic relationships and celebrating their independence.
The Drama That Inspired “Flowers”
Before you can fully understand or appreciate the recent work Cyrus has done, you’re going to need to know a little of the celebrity gossip surrounding her life. Actually, that’s a bit of a fib. Look, I don’t pay attention to celebrity news and never care about it. But it matters this time, just trust me. The entire drama surrounding Flowers is integral to appreciating the nuances of the actual song.
Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth had an up-and-down relationship, to say the least. Always in the public eye, the couple got engaged, unengaged, engaged again, married, and divorced. While they appeared to be an adorable celebrity couple, the relationship between the two was never more than a few moments away from drama. Hell, even their house burned down at one point.
Several of her releases during their relationships were essentially love songs dedicated to him. The first of their breakups happened in 2010, but they got back together and broke up again in the same year. By 2013, the two called off an engagement, and after a day, Hemsworth was spotted making out with a model. Yep, a single day. Everyone should have clued in at this point, but this was the first-mile marker on a long road.
Both celebs would date other people before eventually reuniting. By 2018, the two were engaged again, though not without further dramatics. The two argued over the details of a prenup before their wedding, but they would eventually make it down the aisle.
That didn’t last long though. By 2019, Hemsworth would file for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. According to his side, infidelity was the reason for the divorce. She took to Twitter to denounce those claims, stating she had cheated in the past—as had he—but not during their marriage.
Later that year, she would release the single Don’t Call Me Angel, a song that very much felt like it threw plenty of digs at Hemsworth, as he often called her that. The drama would continue with both sides—and families—posting and saying things about the other until their divorce was finalized in 2020. Her entire 2020 album would be rerecorded in the wake of her divorce. But it wouldn’t end there.
She would eventually release Flowers in 2023, and it is heated. It directly draws from the song Hemsworth dedicated to her at their wedding. But that’s not it. The timing of when Flowers was released was absolutely not a coincidence. She let the song out on his birthday, a single-girl anthem that laments her moments with him, and is perfectly timed for that little bit of extra sting.
And that’s where we are now with the album. She has one of the most successful songs of all time, throwing shade at her ex-husband for his role in their divorce. A rumor even surfaced online that she recorded the music video for the song in the house that Hemsworth cheated on her with 14 different women but that information remains unconfirmed as of yet.
So, now that all of the drama that inspired the track is explained to its fullest, we can actually get into what the meaning of Flowers is all about.
A Dive Into The Meaning of “Flowers”
Flowers is a pop anthem and an amazing song. But while even Cyrus says that it was easy to write, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of juicy nuggets thrown into it. For the most part, the track is about self-empowerment and confidence. Getting over a breakup and making the best of things, but it also frequently takes jabs at the relationship she and Hemsworth had together. We’ll go into detail here, citing examples within the lyrics.
We were good, we were gold
Kinda dream that can’t be sold
We were right ’til we weren’t
Built a home and watched it burn
The opening lines of the song are just as packed as you would expect. On the surface, it seems to be talking about building a relationship with someone when things are good and it eventually goes wrong somehow, ‘burning’ down the house they built together. In reality, though, this section is likely referencing the Malibu home the two shared that burned down in the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
We said Hemsworth dedicated a song to Cyrus at their wedding, and she built on that song for Flowers. That track was When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars, and it sings about how he should have bought her flowers, held her hand, spent all his time with her, and danced with her. She eerily mirrors lines from this song in the chorus of Flowers.
I can buy myself flowers
Write my name in the sand
Talk to myself for hours
Say things you don’t understand
I can take myself dancing
And I can hold my own hand
Yeah, I can love me better than you can
It’s pretty easy to see what she does here. She mirrors the song dedicated to her by Hemsworth but puts her own twist on it. She doesn’t need him to do all those things because she’s perfectly capable of doing them all herself. In all honesty, it’s easy to see the comparisons between the tracks, with her going line for line with the one by Mars.
And we can’t forget about the music video for the song. While the unconfirmed rumors surrounding the location of the shoot are just rumors, the video helps explain the message she is trying to convey.
She spends the first part walking through a run-down neighborhood in disguise. She quickly sheds the disguise and dances into her new life, finding out she is much better off than she was before. As the video progresses, she becomes more and more confident, evident by the additional pep in her step.
Flowers, and her 2023 album, are very simple in message. They’re all about being the person you want to be, being confident in yourself, and doing what’s best for you. It’s also a massive “f*ck you” to Hemsworth that set the tabloid world on fire. She never directly names him in the song and hasn’t confirmed squat about it in the months since it was released.
This track is undoubtedly about their relationship, and there’s plenty of evidence to support that, but much of the meaning and easter eggs within the track have been discovered by fans.
In the end, Flowers is all about being happy on your own, learning to love yourself, and not needing the validation that comes with romantic relationships. You can do all of those things for yourself and you have no reason to be lonely. Just enjoy life, live it up, and believe in yourself.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.