After a 3-year hiatus from the musical scene, Miley Cyrus came back and introduced a whole new persona on her 4th album, Bangerz. The departure proved to be a success, earning Cyrus her first number one with the album’s second single, Wrecking Ball. Written in collaboration by MoZella, Stephan Moccio, Sacha Skarbek, Lukasz Gottwald and Henry Russell Walter, the song was intially composed with Beyoncé in mind, but the decision changed as the process advanced.
Wrecking Ball was classified by Digital Spy as a “heartfelt ballad about lost love”. Rolling Stone noted the contrast between it and Cyrus’ previous single, stating that “the new ballad offers a heartbroken counterpoint to the hedonism of Bangerz’s lead single, We Can’t Stop.” A.V. Club went as far as proclaiming the song the “modern day My Heart Will Go On”.
The song’s video is divided into two parts: close-up footage of Cyrus singing against a white backdrop intersected by scenes of her licking a sledgehammer and swinging on a wrecking ball. MTV called it scandalous and were not surprised that it “captivated audiences”. Miley herself spoke about the intention behind the video: “I think the video is much more, if people get past the point that I’m naked and you actually look at me you can tell that I actually look more broken then even the song sounds.”