Long Before ‘Flowers,’ Miley Cyrus Wrote One of the Best Heartbroken Anthems at Only 15 Years Old

Miley Cyrus.
Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

If the phrase “I can buy myself flowers” doesn't mean anything to you, then you might've been living under a rock, because Miley Cyrus's recent single, “Flowers,” has been practically inescapable for the past two months. Flying to no. 1 in over 30 countries, breaking the Spotify record for most streams in a week and filling up everyone's TikTok and Instagram feeds around the world, Cyrus wrote the perfect empowerment anthem to kick off 2023.

Part of the success of “Flowers” was due to its backstory. The 30-year-old seemingly wrote the song about her ex-husband, Liam Hemsworth, 33, and in a Swiftian move, the song (and its accompanying music video) are littered with references to their relationship. Not only did Cyrus drop the song the day before Hemsworth's birthday, and film it in the Studio City home that she *used* to share with her ex-husband, but as Mashable notes, the chorus even seems to be a clear play on the words from Bruno Mars's track, “When I Was Your Man,” which Hemsworth reportedly dedicated to Cyrus (although this connection has not been confirmed by the singer).

But this isn't the first time Cyrus has pulled off a trick like this.

15 years before she dropped “Flowers,” Cyrus proved that she was a master at writing heartbreak anthems when she was just a teenager, with the pop punk banger “7 Things.”

Co-written with Antonina Armato and Tim James, and produced by John Fields, “7 Things” was the lead single from Cyrus's second studio album, Breakout, and it came out when she was only 15 years old. Although it didn't have quite the same success as “Flowers,” this single was still a major hit for Cyrus, reaching no. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the most-watched music video on YouTube at the time, until it was surpassed by Lady Gaga's “Bad Romance” in 2010.

If we take a closer look, we can see a lot of similarities between “7 Things” and “Flowers.”

Before she was getting TikTok buzzing with her Easter egg-filled visual for “Flowers,” Cyrus had the rumor mill churning with the clip for “7 Things,” because it clearly seemed to be referencing her relationship with Nick Jonas (who she dated from about 2006-2007).

In an interview with MTV, the director of the “7 Things” music video, Brett Ratner, revealed: “[Cyrus] had me come out to her house...She started showing me all of her personal items from under her bed that her ex-boyfriend gave her. So she pulled out his dirty socks and a bunch of photographs.” Ultimately, many of these items were used as props in the video.

Most notably, Cyrus wears a dog tag necklace in the clip, which appears to be her ex's medical identification tags for his diabetes. Director Ratner seemed to confirm this too in the MTV interview, saying, “The necklace she's wearing in the video is the necklace he gave her. She's wearing his diabetes or medical necklace.”

But while “7 things” featured a clue-filled video and cutting lyrics, where Cyrus lists the “7 things [she] hates” about her ex, it also takes a surprising turn at the end. After getting out her anger, she then lists the seven things she loves about her former partner, despite the ways in which he made her mad.

This idea continues in “Flowers,” where Cyrus looks back fondly on her relationship with Hemsworth, saying, “We were right 'til we weren't.” And in the end, she realizes that she can give herself the kind of love that her ex-husband couldn't.

It's a simple message, but it's a powerful one, and it's an evolution of an idea that Cyrus planted 15 years ago. While the singer-songwriter has always captured the nuance of being angry at a lover, but still harboring affection for them, she's finally reached a point of peace, where she knows how to love herself the most. We can always count on Miley for a thoughtful pop classic.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a Features...