Anyone who has followed Miley Cyrus’ longtime relationship with Liam Hemsworth knows the pair always seems to find their way back to one another. Her return to country on her new album Younger Now also marks her return to a simpler narrative of love, coinciding with Cyrus putting an engagement ring back on her hand.
Fans have suggested that the song is about Stella Maxwell, with whom Cyrus was rumored to be in a brief casual relationship with back in 2015. Maxwell, a Victoria’s Secret model, has been dating Kristen Stewart since 2016.
Previously, Cyrus opened up about her pansexuality in a Billboard cover story, and an interview with Variety. The singer explained her discomfort with being labeled bisexual, as she never thought of her own sexuality in gendered terms. “My whole life, I didn’t understand my own gender and my own sexuality,” explained Cyrus. “I always hated the word ‘bisexual,’ because that’s even putting me in a box. I don’t ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl.”
Her new song, “She’s Not Him,” takes an approach to pansexual love in a way that has yet to appear in mainstream music. In this song, her eventual return to a male does not negate her relationship with a woman.
The song sits quite low on the track list of Younger Now, but the choice to include this story remains significant. Younger Now is Cyrus’ most understated musical project yet, and while not packed with the pop bangers fans have gotten used to, it allows “She’s Not Him” to stand out as an authentic ode to love that was not meant to last. The pansexual love story is not a gimmick – it’s an honest account.
Cyrus paints a gorgeous lyrical picture of her time with the former lover, legitimizing how deeply in love they were, yet realizing they were not soulmates. She sings, “There’s no other girl that looks like ya, darling/Those eyes, that tongue, those teeth, that face, that body/Even though we’ve gone to outer space/Still no way you can take his place.”
The singer is hopelessly infatuated with this woman, and it shows even after the relationship has concluded. “Every time you walk through my door/I swear to God you’re more beautiful than before, but you’re not him/No matter what you say/No matter what you do/I just can’t fall in love with you.” The love is genderless, only deciphered to separate the soulmate from the past.
Genre is key in making this song a milestone – country music is no stranger to grand love ballads, especially ones with predictable form and simple lyrics, but coming across any track that is not blatantly heterosexual is almost unheard of in the format.
“She’s Not Him” gives voice to pansexual and bisexual people who are so often left out of the mainstream, as so many attempts at inclusivity have only consisted of lyrics regarding the same sex, rarely expanding to something more. In an easily palatable pop-country song, Cyrus legitimizes bi and pan identities in mainstream music all while baring her own journey back to her true love to the world.