During a Miley Cyrus music special that aired on ABC on Thursday, the singer talked about the controversial open letter she received from the late Sinéad O’Connor a decade ago.
The special, called Endless Summer Vacation: Continued (Backyard Sessions), included performances by Cyrus along with an intimate interview where she shared stories from the first 30 years of her life and discussed her musical career along the way.
Then she got to the release of her hit song “Wrecking Ball” in 2013, which came along with a more mature post-Disney channel image and dropped right around the same time as her memorable — and what many called overly sexual — performance with Robin Thick and Pharrell Williams at the MTV Video Music Awards.
After Cyrus mentioned in a Rolling Stone interview that her “Wrecking Ball” video was inspired by O’Connor’s video for the 1990 classic “Nothing Compares 2 U,” O’Connor penned an open letter to Cyrus which was initially posted to O’Connor’s website, and later published by The Guardian.
“I was expecting for there to be controversy and backlash,” Cyrus said Thursday about her new image and music at the time. “But I don’t think I expected other women to put me down or turn on me, especially women that had been in my position before.”
While the letter was supposed to be from a good and motherly place, some of the things O’Connor said definitely turned some heads. Like criticizing Cyrus for “getting naked,” and with lines like, “The message you keep sending is that it’s somehow cool to be prostituted.”
Cyrus responded negatively to the letter when it first came out, but has had 10 years to reflect on it and learn more about O’Connor, who spoke frequently about her mental health issues.
“I had no idea about the fragile mental state that she was in, and I was also only 20 years old so I could really only wrap my head around mental illness only so much,” Cyrus said. “And all that I saw was that another woman told me that this idea was not my idea. And even if I was convinced that it was, it was still just, you know, men in power’s idea of me. And they had manipulated me to believe that it was my own idea when it never really was. And it was. And it is. And I still love it.”
O’Connor was found dead in her London home in July of this year at age 56. No cause of death was given.
Cyrus went on to say that the letter just came at a bad time when there were a lot of things going on with her overall transformation in life.
“I think I had just been judged for so long on my own choices that I was just exhausted. And I was in this place where I finally was making my own choices and my own decisions. And to have that taken away from me deeply upset me,” she said, before later adding. “God bless Sinéad O’Connor for real, in all seriousness.”
The special then cut to a performance of “Wonder Woman” from Cyrus’ most recent album Endless Summer Vacation, with text on screen saying that it was “dedicated” to O’Connor.
Endless Summer Vacation: Continued (Backyard Sessions) aired Thursday on ABC.