Lost Hit: Miley Cyrus’ “Drive” Deserved To Be A Single
In this franchise, we highlight album tracks that should have been released as singles.
Miley Cyrus was at her controversial and creative best in 2013. Three years after proclaiming that she could not be tamed, the pop star upped the ante during the Bangerz era. Lead single “We Can’t Stop” kicked things off, and pop’s most successful ex-act commemorated the release with an iconic moment at the 2013 VMAs. Performing a medley with Robin Thicke, her twerking and unforgettable foam finger stole the night. It created a media furor, which clearly paid off. The infectious party anthem flew up the charts, eventually landing at the number two spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
How does one top the visual titillations of “We Can’t Stop”? The correct answer is by swinging naked from a wrecking ball and licking a hammer, of course. And the diva did just that in the (later lambasted) video for her soaring “Wrecking Ball.” The gut-wrenching power ballad would go on to top the Hot 100 and became Miley’s most successful release to date. Considering the quick one-two punch, it was hardly surprising when Bangerz topped the Billboard 200 and went on to sell more than one million copies.
After a slew of collaborations including one with Mike Will Made-It, Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J on “23,” the hitmaker switched things up by releasing the pared-back “Adore You.” The lo-fi ballad features a sweet message for a loved one. It was paired with an equally intimate visual. However, the wintery ballad failed to perform quite as exceptionally as its predecessors. Instead, it peaked just outside the Top 20. The single closed out the era, leaving several hidden gems on the tracklist. Chief amongst them is the electro-ballad “Drive.”
Possibly inspired by her breakup with (then) ex-fiancé, Liam Hemsworth, Miley opened up about the song in an interview with FASHION magazine. “I wrote it while I was working on Valentine’s Day — emotionally it was such a hard time,” she explained. “It is about needing to leave someone but not really wanting to completely cut yourself off from the relationship. It’s a time when you want to leave but you can’t. It’s also about moving on.” Built around a throbbing production courtesy of Mike Will Made-It and P-Nasty, the end result is heartrending.
“You told me that you wanted this. I told you it was all yours,” she earnestly belts. “If you’re done with it, then what’d you say forever for.” Her performance builds up to an emotionally fraught moment on the bridge. Gorgeous in its original format, we received an equally arresting acoustic version during Miley’s set on MTV Unplugged. She also highlighted it with a powerful moment on the Bangerz Tour. Unfortunately, the song never got a chance to take off.
“Drive” could have dominated radio and streaming services. Instead, it lives on as a beloved deep cut that deserved so much more. Fortunately, it looks like Miley is exploring similar territory with her forthcoming “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart.” I can only hope her Mark Ronson collab handles heartbreak with as much grace and ease. Revisit “Drive” below.