Parton, 77, released her version of “Wrecking Ball” on Friday, October 20. Starting with a melancholy piano, Parton sings the first verse before Cyrus, 30, joins her on the chorus. By the second verse, the guitars and drums kick in, transforming the song into an emotional thunderstorm that leaves no one standing in its wake. Parton and Cyrus’ voices play off each other like lightning bolts before the crashing crescendo.
There’s even a spot where the women sing Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” at the end, as if this new version wasn’t already great enough.
Parton revealed that Cyrus’ song had a huge impact on her — so much that she needed a version on her upcoming Rockstar album. “When I heard ‘Wrecking Ball,’ I almost wept in my car,” she said in a press release for this new take.
“When it started into the chorus, it hit me like a wrecking ball!” she added. “I thought, ‘How great can a song be, and how great can Miley Cyrus be?’ I thought, ‘I have to have that song on my rock album, and I have to have Miley sing it with me!’ I love it, and I hope you do!”
“Wrecking Ball” came crashing in August 2013. After debuting at No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100, it eventually climbed to the top to become Cyrus’ first No. 1 song on the chart. The song and provocative video — featuring Cyrus first in a white tank top, underwear and boots before she stripped down to just her Dr. Martens — became synonymous with her Bangerz era.
Since then, the “Flowers” singer has evolved, but her relationship with Parton has stayed the same. Cyrus explained in 2019 how she got closer with Parton. “[It was when] we started doing Hannah Montana, and she was playing my aunt,” Cyrus told Entertainment Tonight. “And she doesn’t really let me call her godmother. She likes fairy godmother much better.”
“I worked with [Miley’s dad] Billy Ray for all those years when he had ‘Achy Breaky Heart,’” Parton said in 2019. “He worked with me on some shows we did in the early days. I think he opened some of my shows and we just got to know each other, and I wrote a song called ‘Romeo’ and had him in a video. And then when Miley came along, you know, we just said, ‘She’s got to be my fairy goddaughter.’”
Parton and Cyrus have teamed up several times throughout the years. They sang “Jolene” together on The Voice in 2016, starred in T-Mobile’s 2022 Super Bowl commercial and Parton joined Cyrus for Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party in December of that year.
Parton’s Rockstar arrives on Friday, November 17. The 30-track album is her first foray into rock music and a loving retrospective of some of the genre’s biggest hits. It’s also a star-studded extravaganza, with appearances by Sting, Debbie Harry, Rob Halford, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sheryl Crow, and the two surviving Beatles — Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr — just to name a few.