Struggling to stick to your January resolutions? Listen to new Miley

There's science behind our love of comeback anthems - and they can help us hit our goals, too

Hero image in post
photo: Columbia Records
Hero image in post
photo: Columbia Records

There's science behind our love of comeback anthems - and they can help us hit our goals, too

By Zoya Raza-Sheikh13 Jan 2023
4 mins read time
4 mins read time

January, like the best teen rom-coms, is all about makeovers. You know, that moment where we vow to quit vaping/ stop being unhinged on the internet/ eat a vegetable and believe it will sort all our problems. And while some of the Dry January cohort out there are already beginning to falter, there's a simple answer: the re-energising power of pop bops.

Remember: the sudden urge to drastically change your life when confronted with the passage of time isn't just a human foible, it can be an art form. You need only look at pop divas and their many "eras" to know that - whether it's Charli XCX and her Tumblr vamp to PC Music princess to main pop girlie timeline or Beyoncé's Earth-shattering image overhauls with each album cycle. The latest to rejoin the reinvention crew? Miley Cyrus, who recently resurfaced this month to show off her freshly sun-kissed blonde hair and tease her Divorce Album Endless Summer Vacation.

Yep, it's a New Year and a New Miley. And today marks both the release of her forthcoming project's lead single, Flowers, as well as her ex-husband Liam Hemsworth’s birthday (coincidence? We think not). With lyrics preaching self-love - “I can take myself dancing” and ​“I can buy myself flowers” - over dead-end relationships, it makes it clear that her New Year's resolution was never to text her ex again.

Yep, Miley's our very own accountability buddy and is teaching us to shout our positive intentions into the world with such ferocity that we can't ever go back on them. And there are plenty of other ways that this gutsy, empowering anthem can help us with our own self-improvement projects. At the surface level, there's the obvious dopamine high that comes whenever a beloved artist returns with a new bop. But the science behind comeback songs - and what they can do for our state of mind - goes deep.

See, music is a powerful motivational tune and the more upbeat, the better. A 2010 study conducted by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University revealed that the tempo of music could majorly help participants' reach higher levels of performance. The paper tracked how quickly 12 male students cycled depending on the speed of the music they were listening to simultaneously. And you can probably guess the results from the Ibiza classics which are pumped out during your spin class: music with a speedier beat helps get your exercise efforts in gear and allows you to pedal through the pain.

This is backed up by plenty of studies elsewhere. Data from from a 2017 paper, by Paul Elvers and Jochen Steffens, found that music can evoke a greater sense of motivation and mood regulation and even boost self-esteem and self-confidence. This, of course, doesn’t just the end of there, either. Researchers Stefan Koelsch, Tobias Bashevkin, Joakim Kristensen, Jonas Tvedt and Sebastian Jentschke discovered that music has a pretty noticeable impact on emerging thoughts and moods. The 2019 research revealed that “heroic”, upbeat music resulted in more positive and motivating outcomes.

So, don’t just take our love for Miley Cyrus at face value: there’s data to prove that binge-listening to her main character energy new album really can do you some good, whether it's powering through the winter slump or smashing your January goals.

Mood-boosting January gems

So now you now the science behind motivational music, it's time to banish the blues and stick on the amped-up tunes. Find our picks of the fortnight below. Be warned, they're not all sunshine and smiles - but they are a mood.

"Miley Cyrus - Flowers"

  • January motivation for: Not texting your ex!
  • Our fave lyrics: "I can hold my own hand / I can love me better than you can"

"Circa Waves - Never Going Under"

  • January motivation for: Working out workplace frustration so you can hold back on the IG Story rants.
  • Our fave lyrics: They’ll try to put us down / but we’re never going under"

"Debby Friday - So Hard To Tell"

  • January motivation for: Activating your villain era.
  • Our fave lyrics: "I know you so very well/ You wanna party/ You wanna show and tell"