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Miley Cyrus has landed in New Jersey. Despite only being officially announced as a 2019 VMAs performer earlier on Monday (August 26), she looked right at home onstage giving an expertly touching, string-heavy, debut performance of “Slide Away,” her latest song that fans have speculated touches on her separation from husband Liam Hemsworth.
Onstage painted via a black-and-white lens, Miley glided through the downbeat track as scores of violins, violas, and cellos provided an emotional counterpoint to her raw vocals. As a breakup song, “Slide Away” is not vitriolic or bitter; its real power resides both in Miley’s voice of resignation and the ease with which she fires off a slew of enlightened, mature goodbyes. “Woke up one day, it had turned to dust,” she sings, “baby, we were found, but now we’re lost.”
There was very little pomp accompanying this one—just Miley in a dark dress, alone at a microphone, focusing on the intimacy of the words and really feeling the emotionality of her voice. The stylish clip felt over too soon, but given how she gripped the mic stand and released her lungs toward the end, it was probably a welcome reprieve for Miley once the music quit. Plus, she got a standing ovation from her parents, who saw her from the crowd. That’s nice.
Last week, she took to Twitter to speak out publicly for the first time about, among other things, her split with TK and her public perception, which has fluctuated as she grew up in the spotlight over the past decade and a half. “I fucked up and cheated in relationships when I was young. I lost a massive Walmart deal at 17 for ripping a bong,” she wrote.
“Liam and I have been together for a decade. I’ve said it before & it remains true, I love Liam and always will,” she continued. “BUT at this point I had to make a healthy decision for myself to leave a previous life behind. I am the healthiest and happiest I have been in a long time.”
Miley’s presence at the 2019 VMAs was particularly notable as she’d earlier written on Instagram that there was “no fuckin way” she’d perform at the show this year. As the host of the show in 2015 and a storied performer many times over, Miley’s a VMA fixture—and it’s nice to have her back.
Her song “Mother’s Daughter” was nominated this year for Best Power Anthem. Watch Miley’s moving “Slide Away” performance in the clip above and proceed to melt.
The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards have touched down at The Prudential Center in New Jersey, airing live on MTV. See the full list of winners and keep up with all of the night’s biggest VMA moments!