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Fly on the Wall (song)

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"Fly on the Wall"
Fly on the Wall Single.jpg
Single by Miley Cyrus
from the album Breakout
Released December 8, 2008[1]
Length 2:31
Label Hollywood
  • Antonina Armato
  • Tim James
Miley Cyrus singles chronology
"7 Things"
"Fly on the Wall"
"The Climb"

"7 Things"
"Fly on the Wall"
"The Climb"
Music video
"Fly on the Wall" on YouTube

"Fly on the Wall" is a song recorded by American recording artist Miley Cyrus for her second studio album, Breakout (2008). It was released as the third and final single from the album on February 27, 2009[citation needed] by Hollywood Records. The song's lyrics have been interpreted in a number of ways, such as a description of an abusive boyfriend. In actuality, Cyrus says the song describes paparazzi and their extensive personal privacy invasions.

The song received critical praise, with several critics claiming it defied teen pop expectations and was Breakout's best track. Despite only reaching number eighty-four on the United States chart Billboard Hot 100, "Fly on the Wall" performed better commercially in various European regions. "Fly on the Wall" reached its highest international peak on the UK Singles Chart, at number sixteen. The single's music video was directed by Philip Andelman and premiered on FNMTV. The "Thriller" inspired video takes place mainly in a parking garage in which Cyrus encounters and attempts to escape the paparazzi. Cyrus promoted the song through several venues, including a performance on her second headlining tour, the Wonder World Tour, that incorporated a short segment of the "Thriller" dance. Cyrus also performed the song in the Gypsy Heart Tour. The song, along with "Start All Over", "Who Owns My Heart" and "Younger Now" are the only singles released by Cyrus that haven't been certified at least platinum in the United States.


The song's lyrics, written by Cyrus, Antonina Armato, Tim James and Devrim Karaoglu, have been mistakenly interpreted in a variety of ways. The song's protagonist sings in first person perspective while condemning an unspecified subject for wanting to invade her privacy. The majority of reviewers thought the protagonist was referring to a "controlling boyfriend".[2] Ben Ratliff of The New York Times sided with the boyfriend, and believed the song's protagonist was "bullying some poor boy for the sin of wanting to know what she talks about with her friends."[3] Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe believed the song could have described a number of subjects, such as "a former boyfriend, the media, and even her fans."[4] However, in an interview with Jocelyn Vena of MTV News, Cyrus said the song was about "the media" and "how they think they know everything about [her], when they don't. They want to be a fly on my wall and watch [her] 24/7."[5] Cyrus elaborated on the concept in an interview with Nancy O'Dell of Access Hollywood. She stated,

"Paparazzi. I wrote it for the media, always feeling like they need to be in my life. Sometimes they just wish that they could blend in and be there all the time. And that they might know me a little bit better if they were in my house, in my room and my different places. So, it's like going to different spots and trying to get away from them and it's not going away like little annoying flies."[6]


"Fly on the Wall" is a song with strong uses of electric guitars, keyboards and soprano vocals.[2] Influences derive from electronic music and industrial music.[4] It is set in common time with a moderately fast rock tempo of 143 beats per minute.[7] The song is written in the key of G minor.[7] Cyrus' vocals spans two octaves, from G3 to D5.[7] The song has the following chord progression, G5—D—Gm7.[7] The song's chorus has the use of a vocal hook; the hook sings, "fly on the wall".[8]

Critical reception[edit]

"Fly on the Wall" received critical acclaim. Heather Phares of Allmusic said the song was a "G-rated version" of Britney Spears' song "Toxic" and provided hints of Cyrus' future musical direction.[2] Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe said "Fly on the Wall" was a change of pace for Cyrus and called it "the album's most interesting tune."[4] Mikael Wood of The Los Angeles Times said the song is a result of regular Walt Disney Company standards, yet "the CD's best cut."[9] Along with "Full Circle," Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine said the song was a "more worthy" follow-up to "See You Again".[8] Mordechai Shinefield of The Village Voice stated the song was "blazingly brilliant" and that it was "the best, angriest song [on Breakout]."[10] Johnny Dee of Virgin Media said the song and "7 Things" were "feisty pop belters" that would encourage a long-term career.[11] Ratliff negatively compared "Fly on the Wall" to the Pussycat Dolls and said that although Cyrus' voice is generally rich with a deep range, it became "pinched and stingy" in the single. However, he also said the song was "teen-accurate".[3]

Chart performance[edit]

Cyrus performing "Fly on the Wall" at the Kids' Inaugural: "We Are the Future"

For the week ending August 9, 2008, "Fly on the Wall" charted at number 69 on Hot Digital Songs due to the release of Breakout, but failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100; the following week, the song completely fell from the sales chart.[12][13] During late 2008, the song reached its peak on several US charts, reaching number 72 in Hot 100 Airplay,[14] and 64 in the Pop 100 and Pop 100 Airplay.[13] For the week ending January 10, 2009, the song debuted and peaked at number 83 in the Hot 100 due to airplay, falling from the chart in the succeeding week.[13][14][15] In the Canadian Hot 100, the peaked and debuted at number 73 on the week ending August 9, 2008 due to digital downloads.[13][14] It then ascended and descended the Canadian Hot 100 before reaching its last week, ending on February 7, 2009.[13][14]

The song was more successful in European nations. For the week ending January 1, 2009, "Fly on the Wall" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number 90.[14][16] Throughout January and February 2009, the song moved up, finding new peaks for four consecutive weeks.[16] For the week ending February 28, the song ascended to number sixteen and became Cyrus' second best charting single in the United Kingdom.[16][17] It then slid several spots down, until its last week on the singles chart at number 86, for the week ending April 4.[16] In the European Hot 100, "Fly on the Wall" peaked at number fifty-seven on the week ending March 7, 2009 and spent a total of five weeks on the chart.[18] For the week ending January 29 in the Irish Singles Chart, the song debuted at number 49.[14] Weeks later, the song reached its peak at number 23 before falling off the chart on March 12.[14] In Austria, the song debuted and peaked on the week ending March 18 at number 57 and fell from the chart after two weeks.[14] It spent seven weeks on the German Singles Chart, where it debuted and peaked at 62.[14]

Music video[edit]

Cyrus beside her car while trying to hide from the paparazzi in the "Fly on the Wall" music video. The video, particularly Cyrus' attempted escape from the paparazzi, was inspired by Michael Jackson's Thriller.

In an interview with MTV News, director Philip Andelman explained that Cyrus was already determined to poke fun at the paparazzi when she contacted him for a "Fly on the Wall" music video.[5] Andelman did not want to create "something too serious" and worked to give the video a "playful" aspect.[5] Cyrus elaborated on the concept of the music video in an interview with Nancy O'Dell of Access Hollywood. Cyrus said,

"The concept is kind of 'Thriller'-esque [sic]. It's kind of like where the paparazzi become these zombies and they're all like attacking me. And my boyfriend is trying to save me, but I don't know if he's a paparazzi too. So, it's like me trying to hide and get away. It's really fun, but I'm escaping from my boyfriend and escaping from the paparazzi and trying to find my way through the whole video."[6]

The video commences with a short segment of dramatic music. It then focuses on Cyrus, wearing a white tank top, jeans, boots and a black leather jacket, and her boyfriend leaving a movie theater and discussing the movie they saw. Suddenly, Cyrus' boyfriend begins to cough as a full moon emerges from behind the clouds. Cyrus is confused, then horrified as she watches him transform into a paparazzi, and runs away from him as he shouts "Miley, come here! I just want a couple of shots!" and tries to snap pictures of her. The music of "Fly on the Wall" begins as Cyrus runs into a parking garage and tries to hide behind a pillar and a black Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. As soon as Cyrus tries to move away from the car, a mob of paparazzi begins to chase her with their cameras. Throughout much of the video, Cyrus runs and hides from the mob. Clips interspaced throughout the video feature her in a long silver shirt and jeans singing and dancing in front of the Mercedes. Eventually, Cyrus is cornered by the paparazzi. She is scared, but then surprised and perplexed when the mob unexpectedly begins to dance in a synchronized manner. Her boyfriend, appearing normal, then arrives in the Mercedes to rescue her. Inside the car, Cyrus describes her strange encounter with the paparazzi to him. Unknown to Cyrus, her boyfriend has planted a video camera in the car; the music video concludes with a shot of the website he posts the video on beneath the headline, "Miley Cyrus Bugs at Paparazzi!!!" The music video to "Fly on the Wall" was first seen on December 5, 2008 on MTV's FNMTV.[19] The video is inspired by Michael Jackson's iconic music video, "Thriller", but trades zombies for paparazzi. MTV also compared the "Fly on the Wall" video for those for "Circus" by Britney Spears and "Rumors" by Lindsay Lohan.[19]

Live performances[edit]

Cyrus performing "Fly on the Wall" on the Gypsy Heart Tour

Cyrus first performed the song at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Disney Channel Games on May 4, 2008.[20][21] The performance had Cyrus in a red coat and was later used a promotional music video on Disney Channel.[21] On May 17, 2008, she performed the song at the 2008 Zootopia.[22] On July 18, 2008 the song was performed in a concert series for Good Morning America along with "Breakout," "7 Things" and "Bottom of the Ocean."[23] During the performance, Cyrus wore a plaid shirt, mini-shorts and boots.[23] On August 1, 2008, Cyrus performed "Fly on the Wall" on FNMTV.[24] On November 21, it was sung at the 2008 American Music Awards.[25] A critic from ABC stated that Cyrus "fearlessly embraced new creative directions" with her performance of "Fly on the Wall."[25] On November 25, Cyrus performed the song on the season finale of Dancing with the Stars.[26] On New Year's Eve of 2008, Cyrus wore a white T-shirt, pants, boots and a plaid jacket to present FNMTV's New Year's Special with Pete Wentz.[27] She opened the episode by performing the song, paired with "7 Things."[27] On January 19, 2009, the song was performed at the Kids' Inaugural: "We Are the Future" event in celebration of Barack Obama's inauguration.[28][29] For the event, she had an abundance of background dancers, and Cyrus wore a casual patterned gray T-shirt, black pants, and boots.[29] She also performed the song in London in an Apple Store.[30] The set, with some songs by Cyrus' father, was sold exclusively by the United Kingdom iTunes Store as an extended play titled iTunes Live from London.[30] On June 7, 2009 at the twentieth annual A Time for Heroes Celebrity Carnival, Cyrus performed "Fly on the Wall".[31]

"Fly on the Wall" was one of the songs on the set list of Cyrus' first international concert tour, the Wonder World Tour. The performance began with two overhead screens displaying a frog catching a fly while two acrobats scaled imaginary walls.[32] Cyrus and her dancers then emerged from a green tractor to begin the song. She wore an extravagant white dress with a feathered back[33] and used elaborate choreography.[34] At one point during the performance, Cyrus unexpectedly flew over the crowd for a few seconds.[34] At the conclusion, Cyrus and her background dancers grouped together to perform a segment of the dance from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video.[34][35] She performed it at the Rock in Rio concert in Lisbon, Portugal on May 29, 2010 and Madrid, Spain on June 4, 2010.[36][37]

Cyrus performed the song during the Gypsy Heart Tour.

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format
United Kingdom[38] February 16, 2009 CD single


Charts (2008—09) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[39] 54
Austrian Singles Chart[14] 57
Canadian Hot 100[14] 73
European Hot 100[18] 57
German Singles Chart[14] 62
Irish Singles Chart[14] 23
UK Singles Chart[16] 16
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 84
US Pop 100[13] 64


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Miley Cyrus – Breakout". AllMusic. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Ratliff, Ben (July 21, 2008). "Miley Cyrus". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Rodman, Sarah (July 22, 2008). "With her new CD, Miley Cyrus breaks out -- a little". The Boston Globe. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c Vena, Jocelyn (November 13, 2008). "Miley Cyrus Spoofs Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Video -- Swapping Zombies For Paparazzi". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Access Extended: Miley Cyrus Talks 'Fly On The Wall'". Access Hollywood. NBC Universal Television Distribution. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Digital Sheet Music - Miley Cyrus Fly on the Wall". Music Alfred Publishing Company. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b Cinquemani, Sal (July 20, 2008). "Miley Cyrus: Breakout". Slant. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on July 10, 2009. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  9. ^ Wood, Mikael (July 21, 2008). "Miley Cyrus' 'Breakout': A long way from Montana". The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  10. ^ Shinefield, Mordechai (July 22, 2008). "Miley Cyrus, Teen Siren". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Archived from the original on December 13, 2009. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  11. ^ Dee, Johnny. "Miley Cyrus: Breakout review". Virgin Virgin Media Inc. Retrieved September 26, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Miley Cyrus - Chart history - Billboard". 31 May 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2018. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Miley Cyrus > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Miley Cyrus - Fly on the Wall - Music Charts". Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  15. ^ a b "Wayback Machine". 22 August 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2018. 
  16. ^ a b c d e "Chart Stats - Miley Cyrus - Fly on the Wall". Chart The Official Charts Company. January 1, 2009. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Chart Stats - Miley Cyrus". Chart The Official Charts Company. January 1, 2009. Archived from the original on February 13, 2010. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  18. ^ a b "Miley Cyrus Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  19. ^ a b "New Video: Miley Cyrus, 'Fly On The Wall'". MTV. Viacom. December 8, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  20. ^ Harris, Chris (May 5, 2008). "Miley Cyrus Thanks Fans For Their Support During Disney Games Set". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  21. ^ a b "Miley Cyrus". The Walt Disney Company. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  22. ^ Futterman, Erica (May 19, 2008). "Jonas Brothers, New Kids on the Block, Miley Cyrus Earn Fans' Shrieks at Zootopia". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  23. ^ a b Sterns, Olivia (July 22, 2008). "Miley Ready to 'Breakout' After VF 'Mistake'". ABC News. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  24. ^ Wappler, Margaret (August 1, 2008). "FNMTV: Miley Cyrus performs; video debuts from Hawthorne Heights, All Time Low, David Banner". The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Archived from the original on March 20, 2009. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  25. ^ a b "2008 American Music Awards - Performers". ABC. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved September 27, 2009. [dead link]
  26. ^ Spero, Jesse. "Roll Call: Is Miley Cyrus Performing On 'Dancing With The Stars' Finale?". Access Hollywood. NBC Universal Television Distribution. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  27. ^ a b "Miley Cyrus Will Help 'FNMTV' Ring Out 2008 -- From A Fan's Bedroom!". MTV News. Viacom. September 27, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Presidential Inaugural Committee Announces Talent Lineup for Neighborhood Inaugural Ball and Kids' Inaugural Concert" (Press release). Disney Channel. January 13, 2009. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  29. ^ a b Vena, Jocelyn (January 19, 2009). "Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus Entertain Vets (And Obamas) At 'Kids' Inaugural'". MTV News. Viacom. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  30. ^ a b "iTunes: Live from London". iTunes Store United Kingdom. Apple Inc. Retrieved September 27, 2009. [permanent dead link]
  31. ^ "Miley Cyrus - A Time for Heroes Celebrity Carnival". InStyle. IPC Media. June 8, 2009. Archived from the original on June 12, 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2009. 
  32. ^ Harrington, Jim (September 19, 2009). "Concert Review: Miley Cyrus Leaves Hannah Montana Behind at Oakland Show". Oakland Tribune. MediaNews Group. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  33. ^ "Miley Cyrus Brings Wonder World Tour to L.A." MTV. Getty Images. Archived from the original on September 27, 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2009. 
  34. ^ a b c Thompsen, Melinda M. (September 15, 2009). "Review: Miley Cyrus Rocks the Rose Garden as She Kicks off Tour in Portland". The Oregonian. Advance Publications. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  35. ^ Wood, Mikael (September 23, 2009). "Live review: Miley Cyrus' 'Wonder World' concert at Staples Center". The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 27, 2009. 
  36. ^ "My oh Miley! Disney star struts around on stage in a VERY racy costume". Daily Mail. Daily Mail and General Trust. May 30, 2010. Retrieved May 30, 2010. 
  37. ^ Llewellyn, Howell (February 5, 2010). "Miley Cyrus To Play Rock In Rio Madrid". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Fly On The Wall". 16 February 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2018. 
  39. ^ "ARIA – Week of February 2, 2009" (PDF). Pandora Archive. Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved July 14, 2011. 

External links[edit]