If you were paying attention, the Miley Cyrus social media signs were clear. We knew she was in tip-top condition for Sunday’s performance in Tampa. Four days earlier, she posted a video of herself running on the treadmill and belting Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill. An hour before the show, she shared a moment with Billy Idol, chilling on a motorcycle. Casual!
She brought Big Treadmill Energy, plus guest stars Joan Jett and Billy Idol, to the TikTok Tailgate for 7,500 vaccinated health care workers from Tampa Bay and the country. She heaped praise, noting the sacrifices they made to “get back to doing what we love, being who want want to be, fulfilling our purposes.”
“This is my first show in about a year,” she told the crowd. “I could not image a better way to do this than here in Tampa with all these healthcare heroes, surrounded by the people that are making this show possible. We are so appreciative of you and all your diligence, and for that, we’re gonna rock hard.”
Steve Harvey hosted the show before the show, streaming on TikTok and CBS. “This is not any old tailgate,” he said. “This is the best tailgate you’ve ever been to in your life.”
Okay! Probably not, since it’s COVID times, and most of us were behind screens at home, but okay!
TikTokers predicted the winning team. Most said Kansas City, which, honestly, rude. TikTok showed celeb videos, recipes for Rotel cheese dip and Huli Huli wings, a tutorial to make a planter out of a football, while everyone in the comments demanded to see Miley.
Eventually, Harvey came back, and it was time!
“Let’s take one last look at some TikToks from the season while we wait for Miley to take the stage,” he said, draining everyone of life. After 10 more minutes of TikToks, people got what they wanted.
She delivered the 80s rock promise from the first beats. “Oh Miley, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind. Hey Miley!” She ran onstage outside Raymond James Stadium, wearing a black and pink leather cheerleading outfit that read FTW (”for the win”), backed by a giant gumball machine and megaphone.
Idol appeared, looking exactly the same as he did in the 80s. They paired up for Night Crawling and White Wedding. A side note: TikTok’s vertical format is not the best for getting two people in frame. At times, we at home were staring at a sparkly wagon wheel.
Miley has reinvented herself a million times, but her current Joan Jett vibe might be her best. She killed Heart of Glass by Blondie and took a break to gyrate on the motorcycle before launching into Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like a Hole. She wove her hits into covers, wrapping Nothing Breaks Like a Heart with Jolene by her real-life godmother, Dolly Parton. She delivered an Edge of Seventeen medley she called “blessed by Stevie Nicks herself.”
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Football weekend isn’t usually about strong women, she said, but maybe now it would be. She changed into the prerequisite sparkly football jersey and welcomed Jett, who has the same exact haircut. They did Bad Karma, Bad Reputation and I Hate Myself for Loving You. And Miley eventually gave us Rebel Girl, that screaming anthem of females inspiring females. She brought out a stool with photos of her face on it, and said, “If someone doesn’t leave a seat for you at their table, just bring one of your own.”
Miley shouted out Tampa General Hospital, AdventHealth, Bayfront Health, Moffitt Cancer Center, BayCare, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, HCA Healthcare, Florida Cancer Specialists, James A Haley Veterans’ Hospital, and Sarasota Memorial Hospital. She dedicated her song Angels Like You to them.
You never know what to expect with Miley, but in this context, she was kind of... therapeutic? She talked about patience, being kinder to each other. She told everyone to leave their masks on, but “underneath there, put on the biggest smile that you’ve ever had. We’re together listening to live music. Can you believe it?”
After an hour, she did what she had to do. She ended with an emotional encore of Wrecking Ball and The Climb, about “never giving in, never giving up.” But the peak was a few minutes earlier, when she gave the people what they wanted — Party in the U.S.A., momentarily sending the crowd into fits by joking that Jay-Z was coming out. They sang, and danced, the way they did in a previous life.
For the first time in a while, a party in the U.S.A. felt like something we could picture again.
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