After Miley Cyrus Choked Up At Her Super Bowl Show, She Shared An Emotional Confession With Fans

The Super Bowl pre-show in 2021 was different for obvious reasons, but Miley Cyrus and her fellow stars still turned the Raymond James Stadium into a massive and colorful party. Except in the middle of it all there was a brief moment when Miley became unexpectedly emotional. What awful thing could’ve happened to make her break down in front of millions of watchers?

The concert started off with energy and exuberance. Miley shouted out to the crowd, “Welcome to the TikTok Tailgate everybody. This is my first show in about a year, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to do this than in Tampa, surrounded by healthcare heroes. We are so appreciative of you and all your diligence. And for that, we’re going to rock hard!”

And rock hard she did. Although other stars were brought up on stage with her, it was Miley’s show. Her opening song was even 1980s hit “Hey Mickey” – albeit with “Miley” substituted for the original name. And her first outfit – obviously there would have to be more than one – was a sequined cheerleader outfit with “FTW” on it. For the win!

Miley brought out rock legend Billy Idol to perform “Night Crawling” and “White Wedding” with him. Then another equally iconic star joined her: Joan Jett. Miley, now dressed in a pink and black football outfit, blasted out more hits. She told the thrilled audience, “When folks think of football weekend, they don’t always think strong women, but after this I think they will.”

It’d been a while since Miley had performed live, and people watching from their homes clearly loved having her back. Twitter went wild for the star. A viewer wrote, “Apparently there’s a big football game on after Miley Cyrus’ concert today and that’s why she wore the cheerleader outfit, an absolute icon.”

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While there were plenty of cover songs in the show, Miley excited everyone by doing some of her biggest hits as well. She performed “Party in the USA,” “The Climb” and arguably her most famous song of all: “Wrecking Ball.” And it was during the latter that the sudden outpouring of emotion occurred.

You might remember that the video for “Wrecking Ball” features some pretty charged imagery. It came in for a lot of criticism and spawned numerous parodies, some more tasteful than others. But by all accounts it wasn’t really intended to be raunchy.

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Miley didn’t actually write the song’s lyrics. They were penned by MoZella, aka Maureen Anne McDonald. She’s the person behind quite a few big hits, in fact, including “Perfect” by One Direction and Fergie’s “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.” And when McDonald wrote “Wrecking Ball,” she’d recently experienced the end of a long-term relationship.

The song was supposed to go to Beyonce originally – can you imagine that? But MoZella changed her mind and wanted Miley to record it. And it just so happened to be a perfect fit for what Miley was going through at that point in time. The year the song was released, 2013, was the time when the singer ended her engagement to actor Liam Hemsworth.

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The Miley-Liam relationship was always full of ups and downs. They first started dating around 2010 after appearing together in romantic movie The Last Song. This was before Miley underwent her image revamp and transformed from teen Disney star to wild child. She and Liam were seen side by side at the film’s premiere.

The couple briefly separated and then found themselves increasingly in the spotlight after reuniting. Liam was as famous as his girlfriend by 2012, seeing as he’d been cast in the film version of the massively popular The Hunger Games. And in June of that year came a big, happy announcement came: the pair had gotten engaged.

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But then suddenly everything seemed to go wrong. First their big day was delayed, next Miley was no longer wearing her engagement ring. In September 2013 there was another big announcement, but this one wasn’t anywhere near as happy. The engagement was off and the much-hyped relationship was apparently over.

And in the midst of this upheaval, Miley released “Wrecking Ball.” If anyone needed proof that this was a track she associated with Liam, it came during the iHeartRadio Music Festival that year when she started crying mid-song. Liam seemed to have moved on fast, though, as he was soon spotted in a romantic embrace with model Eiza Gonzalez.

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The media delighted in analyzing “Wrecking Ball” and what it said about the Miley-Liam relationship. An article in Billboard magazine that year compared the song to Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River,” which he’d released after a high-profile breakup with Britney Spears. But, the writer said, “Whereas Timberlake displayed his manhood in the ‘Cry Me a River’ video by wounding his ex, Cyrus is the wounded one in ‘Wrecking Ball,’ and no longer looks like a child. “

The singer herself was firm about what the song and video meant. “If people can take their minds off the obvious and go into their imagination and see what the video really means, it is so vulnerable,” Miley told radio station Z100 in September 2013. “If you look at my eyes, I look more sad than actually my voice sounds on the record.”

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Miley insisted in other interviews that she was over her relationship with Liam, but she didn’t always seem to be doing a great job of it. In May 2014 she performed at London’s G-A-Y venue and unleashed an expletive-filled tirade directed at a past love before singing “Wrecking Ball.” The only repeatable part was her hope that the man who did her wrong enjoyed “hearing this song for the rest of your life.”

But everyone knows what happened next. In January 2016 it was suddenly announced that Miley and Liam were together again. And even more surprisingly, wedding bells were ringing. An unnamed insider told People magazine, “Miley is beyond happy to be engaged to Liam again. It might seem sudden, but they have been very close for the past few months.”

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It took a few years, but the couple did eventually marry in the winter of 2018. The photos that made it to Instagram painted a picture of an incredibly casual affair: the singer’s mother even wore jeans. People magazine reported that arrangements had to be changed when the couple’s Malibu house burned down in a wildfire.

But nope, it wasn’t a happy ending. And it wasn’t a long-lived marriage. In the summer of 2019, less than a year after they wed, Miley and Liam split up and started divorce proceedings. Liam at least was amicable about it in public, though. When the news broke he wrote on Instagram, “Just a quick note to say that Miley and I have recently separated and I wish her nothing but health and happiness going forward.”

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Intriguingly, not long after that Miley came out and said “Wrecking Ball” wasn’t about Liam. In 2020 she told the show Bright Minded, “When I did ‘Wrecking Ball,’ everyone thought I was crying over my breakup. But I was actually crying over my dog [who’d just died]… What’s something that really makes me feel like broken pieces? It was losing my dog.”

After divorcing Liam, Miley seemed to continue living the same way she always had: as a headline-grabbing star. Romance-wise, she bounced back fast, dating Kaitlynn Carter and then Cody Simpson. And career-wise she continued to be a hugely successful musician, releasing another hit record – Plastic Hearts – in 2020.

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So it probably wasn’t a surprise to many people that Miley was asked to headline the Super Bowl pre-show in 2021. She’d perform at the “TikTok Tailgate” in front of 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers. Miley wrote on Instagram in January, “I can’t wait to put on a show for the NFL’s honored guests before the game.”

Miley threw herself into preparations right away. At the beginning of February she posted a couple of clips to Instagram of herself singing while working out, which is apparently a technique many stars use to keep their vocal cords healthy. Miley’s performance was so impressive that it inspired her fellow superstar Lizzo to try out the same thing.

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But as Miley ran on her treadmill, viewers might’ve been wondering whether she’d she sing “Wrecking Ball” at the concert. Her views on the track seemed to have changed over the years. In 2017 she appeared on the Zach Sang Show and said, “That’s something you can’t take away, swinging around naked on a wrecking ball lives forever.”

Miley added, “That’s my worst nightmare… that being played at my funeral.” Oh dear. But people would definitely have noticed its absence if she hadn’t sung the track at the Super Bowl. And when she did, the song made headlines once again because of how she acted during the performance.

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Everything was going great until “Wrecking Ball” came on. When you hear the lyrics of that song divorced from the context of the music video, they’re actually pretty sentimental. The second part of the chorus goes, “I came in like a wrecking ball/Yeah, I just closed my eyes and swung/Left me crashing in a blazing fall/All you ever did was wreck me/Yeah, you, you wreck me.”

During the Super Bowl performance it seemed like that particular part of the song, directed of course at a specific “you” was too much for Miley. She sang, “All you ever did was wreck me, yeah you…” and then trailed off. For a few seconds she stopped singing altogether while the band played on.

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Having apparently swallowed down the “you wreck me” part, Miley carried on with “I never meant to start a war, I want you to let me in.” She continued faltering over the lyrics and told the crowd, “It never gets easier,” before pausing once more. Then, she seemingly got her mojo back.

Miley gave it her all for the rest of the song. She fiercely sang out, “All you ever did was break me/I came in like a wrecking ball/Yeah I just closed my eyes and swung,” before finishing off by holding the last note on “You, you wrecked me,” and then turning away from the microphone as if totally overwhelmed.

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What had happened? As soon as the song was done Miley, still looking and sounding pretty exhausted and upset, told her audience of healthcare workers, “You guys would know much more about this than me. About medicine and you know, sometimes we have to take a great big spoonful of our own.”

Miley continued, stumbling over her words a little, “And uh, singing that song ‘Wrecking Ball’ about feeling, you know, completely broken and shattered… I know that one of the main reasons why I’ve missed live music so much is seeing all of you out here relating to me, relating to my lyrics. Everyone’s suffering is different, even everyone’s threshold of pain.”

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“I like to think I’ve got a pretty high tolerance,” Myley added. “I wear a lot of glitter and I wear a lot of armor.” That was evident in the costume she was wearing right at that moment. The star went on, “And I also wear my heart on my sleeve… but it gets broken. A lot. And a lot of us have been feeling broken this year.”

Miley then introduced the final part of the concert by saying, “This next song that I’m gonna sing for y’all next – and last – is something that… as much as I need to say the lyrics are for you, maybe I really need to say them for me. And that’s what unity is really about.” The track was “The Climb,” which Miley said was about “never giving in, never giving up.”

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While the audience watched Miley live on stage, plenty more people were live-tweeting along. And they were moved by her “Wrecking Ball” performance. A viewer wrote, “I see Miley Cyrus is trending but no one is talking about how she cried during ‘Wrecking Ball’ and said, ‘It never gets easier,’ and how that ruined me.”

Plenty of people seemed to be moved by the performance, in fact. Another Twitter user wrote, “Miley Cyrus crying during her performance of ‘Wrecking Ball’ today really got me in my feels.” And in a similar vein, someone else said, “Catch me crying at Miley Cyrus’s performance of ‘Wrecking Ball’ at the Super Bowl.”

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At the very end of the concert Miley told her fans, “Every time I feel like giving up, like it’s not worth the fight, I’m going to think of you. I want to thank you. You are our heroes…. I hope one day I can see you all again and sing some more songs for you. It has been my deepest honor and privilege, and I will never forget it.”

It was clearly an extremely emotional affair for Miley, and everyone noticed how “Wrecking Ball” had affected her. Cosmopolitan magazine wrote, “Miley split from Cody Simpson in August, a year after the singer and ex-husband Liam Hemsworth announced their break up. Sending Miley a huge virtual hug.”

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Despite the heartache, though, Miley at least received some good reviews for her performance. The Houston Chronicle’s magazine Preview wrote of the show, “Cyrus has impressive lung power – a clip of her doing vocal work on a treadmill recently went viral – and she’s equally adept at wringing feeling out of any song.”

And journalist Ross King, writing in British newspaper The Sunday Post, stated regarding Miley’s post-“Wrecking Ball” speech, “I think Miley was talking not just about the pandemic but her ex-husband, Liam Hemsworth, from whom she split recently.” He dubbed it an “emotional moment” and also mentioned that she “absolutely tore up the stage.”

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But even though she cried on stage – possibly over Hemsworth, possibly over her dog, or maybe over something else entirely – don’t worry about Miley too much. On Valentine’s Day she posted an old headline about herself on Instagram reading “Miley’s revenge! ‘I’m staying single!’” and wrote, “They sold magazine[s] telling teenagers that being single is vengeful… not just healthy and acceptable!” So thankfully she’s back to her old self now.

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