Miley Cyrus’ return to music was bound to bring about a few overenthusiastic reactions. One notable entry into the canon of Miley freak-outs is a piece from Elle Magazine that pulls her new single apart line-by-line to explain the references to her relationship with Liam Hemsworth. The careful analysis of “Malibu” is a must-read for anyone that doesn’t know that Genius.com exists.
The in-depth look begins in the first verse, which Elle believes at once sets the tone for the beach-themed love song and calls back to when Miley and Liam actually met. In “The Last Song,” the movie that brought the couple together for the first time, Miley and Liam’s characters meet on a beach. That explains Miley associating beaches with her man.
But things quickly turn from a newfound freedom to self-doubt and fear. Elle reads this as Miley’s take on her efforts to break out of her Disney box. Miley’s relationship with Liam began as her relationship with “Hannah Montana” was coming to an end, and she was often criticized for her performances, style and much more in the years after that.
That leads into the first round of the chorus, which lays out Miley’s Malibu life with Liam as thinly as an old beach blanket. The second verse digs into that life a little more, bringing up Liam’s passion for surfing. Miley’s hope that things won’t change is crushed by the end of the second verse, during which she sings about making a wish “to swim away with the fish.”
Miley doesn’t talk much more about her time apart from Liam, but she does make it clear that, at the moment of their breakup, she never saw a reunion in their future. That doubt sets up for the second chorus about the duo’s reunion and their new life in Malibu.
The song’s outro explains where the couple’s relationship is now. When Miley feels like she’s “drowning,” Liam is there to “save” her. The couple’s “new start” seems grounded in a kind of fluidity as Miley compares herself and Liam to the ocean’s waves.
Whether or not the tide goes out on Miley and Liam’s renewed engagement, Miley’s love song for Liam is a rosy look at their relationship.
What do you think of Elle’s take on Miley’s new song? Is it spot-on or way off?
(Photo credit: Liam Hemsworth Instagram account)