It was arguably the final nail in the Hannah Montana coffin: the former Disney child star completing her transformation into Miley Cyrus 2.0 with the help of foam fingers, Robin Thicke and a latex bikini on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards two years ago. Love it or loathe it, the pair undeniably made an impression.
Now the pop star has called out her 2013 stage partner for asking her to be “as naked as possible” during the performance, yet distancing himself from the controversy afterwards.
While Cyrus, 22, was debated, discussed and berated, Thicke appeared to claim he was surprised by the overtly sexual routine, saying: “That's all on her [...] I'm the twerkee. I'm twerked upon. I was on stage. I didn't see it [...] I'm not really paying attention to all of that”.
She told The New York Times she believes gender played its part in the public reaction, and that 38-year-old Thicke - who has been widely criticised for objectifying women and undermining serious issues of sexual consent with the lyrics and video to his 2013 single Blurred Lines - had been very much involved in the creative process, as well as her revealing outfit.
“It was funny, because I got so much of the heat for it, but that’s just being a woman. He acted like he didn’t know that was going to happen. You were in rehearsals! You knew exactly what was going to happen. And he was actually the one that approved my outfit, so I thought that was very funny. He wanted me as naked as possible, because that’s how his video was.
“It was very much a collaboration. My part - We Can’t Stop - was all me. But when it went into Blurred Lines, that was his performance.”
She went on to say she was surprised by the reaction to the performance, even from those close to her. “Compared to what I do now, it looks like nothing. I can’t believe that was a big deal. It wasn’t shocking at all.
“I was in the studio with Kanye [West] that night, and we watched it back and we didn’t say anything. He was like, ‘That was sick,’ whatever. We woke up the next day, and he was like, ‘Whoa.’ He called and said, ‘Turn on your TV.’
“I was staying at the Trump Hotel and Donald Trump literally called and said, basically, ‘I know everyone’s talking about it, but I loved it.’ I had no idea anyone was talking about it yet.
“Even people around me really judged me. People that I really loved and thought were my friends judged me for it. They were like, ‘You were on drugs when you did that performance.’ I did nothing!”
The interview comes as Cyrus got another taste of public opinion via Jimmy Kimmel Live! this week, when the host sent her out undercover to ask people in the street what they thought of her.
In the video, which you can watch below, she threw herself into the role of an Australian TV anchor and probed just why some of those questioned didn't like her, with one man responding it was because of “her style. And her dad. I just don't like her whole family.”
In another exchange, he said, “The whole fabric of America is kind of falling apart and she's not doing anything to try and keep it together”.
Speaking to The New York Times, Cyrus added that although still happy with her notorious MTV routine - describing it as a “new beginning” and “breaking out” after a two-year work gap following the end of Hannah Montana - she didn't recognise the person she was in 2013.
“I still love it. But I now watch it, and I see someone that isn’t me now [...] I feel like those moments are blackout moments. I remember knowing the night before that it was the first time I would get to perform in this new way. But I didn’t expect it to be what it became.”
Read the full interview here.
Words: Amy Swales / Images: Rex Features