Along with the release today of her eighth studio album, Endless Summer Vacation, Miley Cyrus has revealed the very gay origins of her latest single.
Following on the heels of the album’s chart-topping lead single “Flowers,” “River” is a bouncy, synth-drenched dance track. The accompanying black-and-white video, released today, also finds Cyrus dancing solo on a lighted catwalk before joining a crowd of wet, shirtless, muscular dudes. The video’s final scenes are certainly evocative of gay nightclubs!
It turns out it’s not just the video for “River” that was inspired by gay dance parties. Cyrus shared the story behind the song in a Spotify “Storyline.” The feature, similar to Instagram’s “Stories,” allows artists to share insights about their songs on the music streaming platform.
Cyrus writes that “River” was written at “a time in my life where I was going through a lot emotionally and personally.”
“And then I had a dance party with my friend,” she continues. “The rule was that every girl had to bring their gay best friend, or no entrance.”
The playlist for the soiree consisted of a who’s-who of LGBTQ+ icons: “We were listening to Diana Ross, Whitney [Houston], Lindsay [Lohan], Paris [Hilton], Britney [Spears], all the legends.”
“The song evolved from a trouble where it felt like it never stopped raining, to then raining down love,” Cyrus writes.
Cyrus’s previous single, “Flowers,” remained at the top of Billboard’s Global 200 chart for six weeks following its release and was her first song to top Billboard’s Hot 100 in nearly a decade. “River” may be poised to be a similar success. The magazine ranked the song as the fourth best on the new album. “There’s a reason why ‘River’ is being positioned as Cyrus’ potential follow-up smash to ‘Flowers,’” writes critic Jason Lipshutz, “the single handles its synth-pop flourishes and sexual innuendoes with funk and personality, its melodies blasting out like laser beams and Cyrus opting for sashaying monotone on the verses to offset the “ooh-ooh-OOH!” maximalism of the chorus.”
Cyrus, of course, is a longtime vocal LGBTQ+ ally. She has said she identifies as pansexual and gender fluid, and her Happy Hippie Foundation advocates for LGBTQ+ youth.
She was also recently spotted seated between gay icons Elton John and Lil Nas X—who teamed up with Cyrus’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, on a remix of his breakthrough hit “Old Town Road” in 2019—in the front row at Versace’s Fall/Winter 2023 fashion show.