Miley Cyrus on her raspy voice: People always ask ‘Why do you sound like a man?’

Miley Cyrus covers the current issue of Interview Magazine, only I’m not going to post the actual cover. Or any of the photos from the editorial. The theme of the photoshoot was Miley being “sexy” and going topless and posing with her ass out. And all of that is fine – people should do whatever makes them happy, God bless. But with Miley specifically, I do wonder if that’s all she is, or if she thinks that’s all she has to offer, or if that’s the only way people will pay attention to her. The interview was conducted by Lars Ulrich from Metallica, who actually seems to respect her and they had a nice rapport. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

Performing for thousands of people after the pandemic hiatus: “It actually made me think of all the amazing footage and photographs of Marilyn Monroe performing for the troops. I couldn’t stop thinking of that iconic image of her, bringing people hope in the form of sexuality and wit and beauty and joy. But at the same time, she was able to offer that because she was so insulated from the experience that the soldiers were living through. She was this breath of fresh air because she didn’t have the same darkness and pain and death taking over her aura. But in this case, we’ve all been soldiers, in our own way. Of course, as you said, you and I have not had the same pandemic experience as most of the population, because our sanctuaries and our homes are truly safe.

Why she covered “Nothing Else Matters” at Glastonbury in 2019: “I have two notebooks that I take everywhere I go. One of them is filled with my morals, my values, my purpose, my potential, my capabilities, and my commitments—to others, and to myself. I’m constantly writing things in there. Recently, I wrote down something very wise that I heard, which is related to your question. It was about how lyrics are one of the most resonant aspects of a song, and of why an audience connects with a song. It has to do with the words, and to challenge that is to say that there’s no difference between lightning and a lightning bug. But there’s a big difference. When I think about the sentiment behind “Nothing Else Matters,” it aligns completely with my morals and my values. When I listened to “Nothing Else Matters,” and I knew that I was confirmed for Glastonbury—I actually have chills talking about this—it was the only song that I could imagine playing.

Recording at home, playing with her raspy voice: “There was nothing that I couldn’t try, because I wasn’t in front of 250,000 people. I was in this safe place. We’ve talked about how lucky we are to have that. I stuck, on some level, to the melody. I even went down to some of those octaves, because singing those super-low lead vocals is so satisfying. My whole life, whether in vocal training or just continuing to hone my craft, it’s always been about, “Why do you sound like a man? Where’s your f–king falsetto, bitch? Why can’t you sing the high octave of ‘Party in the U.S.A.’ anymore?” In this song, I get to sing in that low register, and I get to live in that authentic, genuine sound. My voice is how I represent myself. It’s how I express myself. I’ve worked with so many people who tell me, “We’re going to have to bring in a singer to hit those high parts.” You know, “falsetto” is this Latin term for when a boy goes through puberty, but they still want him to sing in the choir. It means “false.”

No falsettos: “I don’t have a false voice. You know me personally, we’ve hung at parties. I am who I am. I say what I mean in the moment, even if that changes tomorrow. I was honored by the fact that I didn’t have to sing this song in the way that females are “supposed” to sing. You can hear that at the end of the song, when I take the gloves off and just start flying. That part of the song really grabs people. It’s that lower register of my voice. So I’m grateful to have a song where I can lean into that.

[From Interview Magazine]

I don’t know much about vocal training and all of that, but I do know singers’ voices change with age, and singers often “age out” of being able to hit higher notes, the same notes they were able to hit when they were younger. It happens to men and women. Miley has always had that raspy voice, but it’s gotten raspier as she’s gotten older and presumably smoked a lot of pot. I don’t think she’s really “taken care” of her instrument over the years, but again, I don’t know much about vocal training and all of that. I don’t think she sounds like a dude, she’s just a woman with a raspy voice.

IGs courtesy of Miley Cyrus.

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45 Responses to “Miley Cyrus on her raspy voice: People always ask ‘Why do you sound like a man?’”

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  1. girl_ninja says:

    I don’t like her. She so pretentious and full herself.

    • smcollins says:

      Nail. Head. I find her so inauthentic and try-hard. I guess we should be glad, though, that she seems to have stopped sticking her tongue out in every photo 🙄

    • Jules says:

      Is she actually comparing herself to Marilyn Monroe?! So pretentious, she is actually out doing Gwyneth with her tone-deaf comments.
      She also seems to have taken over from Katy Perry, she is in full public humiliation mode, playing the part of the clown or scapegoat.

    • ging says:

      Exactly! Sounds as she thinks of herself as our times Marilyn… really? Thought this was going to be about her new Forbes cover, she looks like a Dolly Parton cosplay there… and incredibly edited.

      That being said, I don’t mind women with deep voices. Just her self-importance.

    • Jo says:

      Oh man, these comments are way harsh. I don’t think she’s saying she’s this generation’s MM, not even close. She just said “I’ve been thinking about this a lot”.
      Regarding her voice, she has a naturally low register but she’s talked a lot about how her voice was affected by trauma (losing her house in the Malibu fires), which is really interesting to me. Of course smoking and lifestyle can be factors too, and it can get deeper and lower with age. She has a great gift, like Stevie Nicks, and yes, like her godmother Dolly Parton. I like that she embraced it and she’s right, hitting the higher notes is very much overvalued, but the lower register is just as difficult, if not more ! I immediately thought about Britney! Maybe if she was of this era in music, they wouldn’t have forced the baby voice on her, which was so bad for her vocal chords (allegedly).

  2. Wiglet Watcher says:

    People always ask that? I don’t believe this. I think as a “singer” they want her to hit different ranges and she can’t so they fix that in production. Just like party in the USA. That was auto tuned as much as Astro world.

    I’d more likely attribute her raspy voice to her whole lifestyle of much worse drugs and genetics before I’d say it’s because she smokes a lot of pot.

  3. Genevieve says:

    This woman has one of the best voices in modern day rock-pop. Elton John, Metallica, Dave Grohl all agree if anyone suspects undue obsequiousness. Even Debbie Harry liked her Heart of Glass cover, which if you ask me, was pretty epic.

    Seriously, YouTube her live singing literally anything from the last album cycle.

    She’s grown internally and musically over the last couple years and her voice has only gotten better with time.

    As women, we each have many responsibilities, but making or worrying about how people “like” you is not one of them. She does what she wants, is reputably professional and kind, and she is helping the cultural female milieu continue to shake messages of internalized misogyny.

    She’s going to be around for a while, and for reasons that far exceed her enormous talent. ☺️

    • Ms single malt says:

      Love your comment. I have read that she is hard working, respected by peers, committed and talented during her live performances. She was a child actor in the Disney world so I give her a pass – not everyone got out unscathed. Plus she is Dolly Parton’s god daughter. I love Dolly.

    • Laalaa says:

      I completely agree.
      And as vocal training specialist, I find it REALLY offensive to suggest she is singing lower because she aged out. She doesn’t have to sing high notes just because she is a woman. And she is far too young to age out, as I’ve heard Tom Jones perform live at his 77 years all his songs in the same key.
      She is just leaning into HER voice, and I hugely respect that. And I don’t even listen to her music!

    • Sof says:

      Yes! Her raspy voice is what, in my opinion, has always put her above all the pop singers of her generation. She can sing any type of music. Loved her Heart of Glass cover! Those who criticized it are the same Blondie a-hole fans who mourn Debbie’s loss of “youth and beauty”, mostly men really.

    • bettyrose says:

      I appreciate your comment. I haven’t listened to much of her music (and found her homage to NIN in her Black Mirror episode super cringy and pretentious) and I swear she talks about how shocking she is way too much (literally no one finds her shocking), but I also super agree with your analysis of the experiences of women in the music industry, and if she’s opening doors for others I always support that.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Her own singing and music aren’t really my cup of tea. But she and other women from that period are definitely survivors.
      When female artists and queer artists make that experience a big part of what they do, there’s always the risk that people with very different experiences will seem to interpret it as them just not realizing they have more to offer than sex. But I don’t think the answer to that risk is for everyone to stop putting what they’ve been singled out for in their art and in the way they present themselves altogether. It’s fine for female and lgbt artists to keep doing what they’re unapologetically doing at this moment. Let the world see what it couldn’t threaten and conservative away.

    • Genevieve says:

      Really—this is her actual latest performance and the woman is a fireball of talent:

      If you’re unsure of the commitment, start at min44 and there is really no question of her vocal talent.

      • bettyrose says:

        Wow, you are not wrong. Thank you for sharing that. She really does have an amazing voice. And I like her stage costume. It’s conservative for her, but just the right amount of sparkly and fun. I’m happy to keep an open mind about who she grows up to be. As for her constant need to discuss her boobs and her sexuality, I suppose someone would be discussing those things so she’s done a decent job of owning the narrative.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        @BettyRose: That’s true. Women and men have been obsessed with not only what was or wasn’t in her bra, but with her hymen since she was 13.

    • Merricat says:

      Agreed, Miley is a lot of things, but untalented is not one of them.

    • Christine says:

      I am 47, and not her target audience, but I am all the way with you. She is spectacularly talented, and always on my play list.

    • Mama says:

      Thank you!!! I love her and her last album was fantastic. Does she put herself out there without shame or care? You bet she does. She loves being sexual and loves being naked. Oh to have that kind of confidence.

  4. Kristen says:

    I know some of it is the hair and makeup, but I feel like she has also maybe changed her face?

    • Kkat says:

      Hmm she might have done something but I think is more that she is older and lost the roundness

  5. Katie says:

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Miley. I like how physical she is – not the nakedness but the athleticism and energy and commitment. I may be forgetting something, but I don’t think she has done anything particularly “cancelable.” More like she’s just been young and dumb in the public eye.

  6. Cortney says:

    She has an amazing voice and I’m convinced there’s nothing she couldn’t sing. Her voice makes my ears happy. 😌

  7. Courtney B says:

    It’s a shame the photos are so tacky (I checked them out) because she looks really good imo. Her shaggy do is cute on her and she looks healthy. And there’s one photo of her surrounded by dozens of bananas and peels and I could only think about the waste. I doubt anyone ate them afterwards.

    • Mama says:

      That’s all on the stylist. So often in those shoots the subject doesn’t get a lot of say – maybe she has the power to do so or maybe Interview was like, ‘This is it!’ That’s all on Interview and the stylist they hired. It sucks because it is a waste.

  8. lanne says:

    I like it when women have deeper voices. So many women learn in early girlhood to affect a higher pitched voice that sounds like a squeak toy. Paris Hilton’s natural voice is much deeper than the affected baby voice she uses, as is Ivanka Trump’s. I can imagine that for Miley, sounding like a “fake girly girl” when she spent her childhood/teen years as a Disney Princess is really off-putting. I’ll bet voice is her natural affect, seasoned with some smoke inhalation.

    It’s funny because women are often judged for having high-pitched voices, natural or otherwise, but are also judged if their voices are too deep. It’s more of that “conditional acceptance” (I like women when they do X, but not too much, de-emphasize Y, and incorporate Z. Then, I, dude, will find her “effortless!”) that allowed the goalposts toward equality to be continually moved out of reach.

    • bettyrose says:

      I’m prefacing this by saying I have no singing talent at all, and even my dogs who otherwise adore me would tell you the same, but I’ve always had a deep voice. I’m not a smoker. It’s just natural. But the one borderline abusive relationship I was in (which I’ve discussed here on relevant posts) loved to criticize my voice. One time, all I did was answer a call from him with a throaty “hello” (just waking up) and he immediately started in demanding to know why I couldn’t try to be more feminine on the phone. My current partner of two decades loves my voice (as long as I never try to sing – but he loves listening to me read aloud). Maybe there’s no correlation there between a confident man and voice preferences, but maybe there is.

  9. Oria says:

    It sounds more like she’s having a problem with the fact she can’t sing like she used to, than other people commenting on it. Like she’s trying to justify her choices of going low-range in her own mind instead of it actually being a problem for anyone else.

    I like her voice a lot better now, than her earlier days.

  10. NotSoSocialB says:

    I always ask why she sounds like a hillbilly chipmunk.

    Also… cut your dog’s damn toenails! That’s going to cause him arthritis.

  11. Sam says:

    “I say what i mean in the moment, even if that changes tomorrow” smacks of that girl who thinks that she has to be “brutally honest” and just say whatever pops into her head and hurts people and says “I’m just being honest!”. No, I don’t have personal experiences with that girl. Why do you ask?

  12. Lala11_7 says:

    Miley reminds me of the women in Rock that I grew up with in the 60/70/80…I think she has a MAGNIFICENT voice and a top notch stage performance

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Ugh. We don’t need another Madonna, never did.

  14. Meh says:

    Nepotism at its finest.

    • Kkat says:

      Nepotism how? Her trash parents?
      She was in Disney since she was little, that’s how she got in

    • SKF says:

      She’s spectacularly talented and more famous than her father because she’s more talented than him. Nepotism May have opened doors for her; but she’s deserving of her fame.

  15. Normades says:

    She has an amazing voice that hitsssss those notes. She is a huge talent.

  16. lena horne says:

    I think she is very talented. I hope in the future she covers Pat Benatar.

  17. Coffeeisgood says:

    Miley has such an amazing voice for rock/grunge/country but her label never gives her good material. Her best songs are usually covers.

    Idk what it is but everything she does seems so staged and fake and just trying to be wild and outrageous for attention. There is nothing authentic about her public persona. She is truly talented but she just always misses the mark.

    • Mama says:

      Her last album was fantastic and she writes a lot of her own stuff. And maybe she is her true self and people want to just label her as fake.

  18. Barbie1 says:

    I loathe her speaking voice. Cigarettes have ruined it. It is way too deep now. I don’t know how anyone can stand it.

  19. Monica says:

    I think she’s genuinely talented. It’s the “look at me” star BS that puts me off.

  20. Katie says:

    Miley has always had a distinctive voice, which made her a star. People forget here that she also had vocal cord surgery not too long ago. I imagine that was scary to possibly lose her main identity. Off the top of my head, Amy Grant, Adele, and Julie Andrews has similar surgeries. Their voices changed. With Julie, she was never able to sing again. I give Miley a pass on this and hope she stays healthy.