Miley Cyrus' 'Malibu' Single Leaks Ahead of Official Video Release

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Miley Cyrus poses backstage at the 2016 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on Sept. 23, 2016 in Las Vegas.

Ahead of Thursday's (May 11) anticipated release of the video for Miley Cyrus' single "Malibu," the gentle acoustic ballad has leaked. The version that appeared online finds Billboard cover story subject Cyrus singing about feeling free over a spare strummed guitar and insistent drum beat.

"I never came to the beach and stood by the ocean/ I never sat by the shore under the sun with my feet in the sand/ But you brought me here/ And I'm happy that you did/ Cuz now i'm as free, this bird is catching the wind," Cyrus sings in a soft voice in the song's opening verse, as the beat picks up and builds with handclaps and a fuller arrangement. As promised, the song is a clear step away from the grittier, hip-hop and psychedelic rock bent of Cyrus' most recent projects, finding a soft spot between her country and pop past. A spokesperson for Cyrus could not be reached for comment on the leak at press time.

Though it's unknown if the leaked version is a final track, the lyrics to the midtempo song telegraph the promised personal nature of the songs from Cyrus' upcoming, as-yet-untitled album, with lines about fear and anxieties she's overcome and a love she hopes will never end. "Is it supposed to be this high all summer long/ I never would have believed you if three years ago you told me I'd be here writing this song/ But here I am/ Next to you/ The sky so blue/ In Malibu," she sings as the strumming double-times, and she swoons into a wordless "ahh-ahh-ahh" croon.

The song appears to offer glimpses into Miley's personal life and in her Billboard interview the singer hinted that she would open that door to her feelings about fiancĂ© Liam Hemsworth in the lyrics. "They’re going to talk about me if I come out of a restaurant with Liam… So why not put the power back in my relationship and say, 'This is how I feel'?" she said.

Cyrus will perform at this year's Billboard Music Awards, marking her return to the stage for the worldwide television debut of "Malibu." She announced the news Wednesday (May 10) with a promo video teasing the "Malibu" song and video.

 

#Malibu x #BBMAs -- TV debut performance at the @BBMAs May 21 at 8e/5p on ABC!!! #1daytillMalibu

A post shared by Miley Cyrus (@mileycyrus) on

 

The pop star will join Bruno MarsEd SheeranNicki MinajCamila CabelloCeline DionDrakeFlorida Georgia LineImagine DragonsJohn LegendLorde and more performers at the May 21 event. The 2017 Billboard Music Awards will be held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with a live broadcast on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Sunday, May 21.