When the clock struck midnight six months ago, not much had changed – the world was still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many still couldn’t celebrate the New Year as they usually would, if at all.
So how do you throw a party that an audience of millions can relate to? Team up with Lorne Michaels and hope for the best. At least that’s what Miley Cyrus did.
“Lorne Michaels is literally a master at improvising and putting on a show of this magnitude. He does it every week in five days,” Cyrus said of the executive producer of ‘Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party’. “With his ability to be flexible and obviously the professionalism and the way he is seasoned, I don’t think this show would have been possible without him.”
Of course, she didn’t do it alone. For the 2022 special in Miami, she teamed up with co-host Pete Davidson, another “pro party animal.” The duo were friends before the special, so they had natural chemistry, but there were still a lot of balls in the air when it came to putting on a two-hour live show.
“It was a very interesting year to have a New Year’s special because the likelihood of it actually happening and the show really happening, none of us were confident [about that],” she says Variety. “We were dealing with this year-end COVID surge and a big spike across the country and we wanted to make sure it was the right and responsible thing to do to continue to have a New Year’s show that encouraged people to gather and celebrate. A lot of our time was spent on the type of mechanics of the show.
Unfortunately, that meant creativity became their “last priority,” Cyrus says, as safety had to be everyone’s main concern, as well as sending the right message to viewers.
“It had to reflect us in a way that showed that we were taking the right precautions and treating this event as precious as it is because it was a very precious moment,” she explains. “We didn’t even want to encourage people to gather at home if it wasn’t the right thing to do. So, there was this element that made all of our lives so abnormal for the past two years.
That, added to the added pressure of doing a live show, didn’t make it easy for her. Cyrus has been performing for 16 years – both on stage and screen and repeatedly, live. Still, she was “running outside my trailer trying to get on my nerves” before the show started.
“We were doing a tightrope walk in front of everyone because we weren’t as prepared and rehearsed as we had expected. I was sort of doing the show for the first time live.
She says Variety that due to all the last minute obstacles and changes, there was no passage. “I felt the weight of what I was about to do. But I felt the audience at home would be more forgiving than ever because putting on a show on New Years around that time was already going to be kind of a magic trick.
The Joe DeMaio-led show, which included performances from Brandi Carlile, Billie Joe Armstrong, Jack Harlow and Saweetie, went off without a hitch – until it was time for Cyrus to take the stage to perform a medley of his hits shortly before midnight.
“Nobody wants to watch a perfect show. I think everyone wants to watch something that’s real, honest, authentic, and genuine – which ties into how everyone celebrates at home. I think everyone is a little messy on New Years. It’s one of the biggest parts of New Years – how you look when you show up to the New Years party versus what you look like when you leave the New Year party.
She jokes, “Maybe everyone leaves the New Year’s party like I left mine, which is [with] their top falls. It’s a sign of a good time.
All in all, she knew not to plan for a perfect night and laughed at her wardrobe malfunction, effortlessly getting back on stage and continuing to sing while covering up.
“My therapist says, ‘Argument with reality, welcome to hell,’ which I’m not sure there is a truer motto. If we were to argue with a global pandemic…we wouldn’t win that argument,” said Cyrus. “So instead of fighting him, we kind of invited him. People back home desperately needed this type of entertainment. And if anything, they were going to forgive us if the show wasn’t perfect.
And it worked. The NBC special, also airing on Peacock, drew 6.3 million viewers from 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. It was also the most trending New Year’s Eve special on Twitter and will be back this year . As for what this show will look like, the one thing Cyrus knows for sure is that it will stay on NBC. Currently, Davidson is unsigned. It’s just Cyrus in the driver’s seat and that was the original plan.
“An ongoing staple for me has been my relationship with NBC. After doing ‘Dead Pets’, which was a very provocative psychedelic rock record, I thought they were joking when they asked me to be coach on ‘The Voice’,” the singer says. “I never thought this was going to happen and it did. They were able to be a little dangerous with me and grow into that and so originally it was just “Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party”, and there was no co-host.
Cyrus continues, “But one thing that me and Lorne really thought was that there was a sexy, romantic side to the night, and we thought it was important that there was some sort of perfect gentleman. But again, someone who wasn’t going to be too serious and was able to keep the fun and the energy going and be super professional when it came to improvisation, so Pete was definitely perfect for this New Years. We’re just seeing what’s right now for 2023. And Lorne has a motto that I love, which is, “Twice is a tradition.” So you have to decide what the tradition will be.
While the show isn’t an extension of Michaels’ “Saturday Night Live,” it does have access to many talented comedians who are live TV pros. And she doesn’t have much interest in tackling the solo show.
“To carry this whole show alone, it will end up sacrificing, I think, part of the music,” says the two-time Grammy nominee. “I think music is what drives New Years – whether it’s just people creating playlists or going out and hearing DJs – music is a New Years staple, so that’s my focus n °1.”