The New York City subway is home to some of the greatest buskers in the world. So when a woman covered Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” at the 50th Street-Rockefeller Center station in midtown Manhattan with the same husky voice as Miley Cyrus, onlookers just assumed it was another talented country singer who just never got her due.
Of course the audience watching at home was well aware that it was actually Cyrus under that black wig, along with an undercover Jimmy Fallon as a younger version of Cyrus’ dad, Billy Ray.
Part of the enjoyment of watching this clip comes from the anticipation of the big reveal. By the time Cyrus hits the song’s final stretch, it’s hard to imagine that no one has figured out the elaborate ruse. Cyrus has one of the most distinct voices in music, and her multiple covers of “Jolene” are already the stuff of legend.
When the disguises do come off, it’s as cathartic a moment as you’d expect. The crowd goes bonkers as Cyrus launches into “Party in the U.S.A,” arguably the best song in her catalogue.
Cyrus also revealed that it was her first time in a subway station, which is very strange and probably very true. But beyond the shticky late night antics, the performance was a powerful reminder that Cyrus is without a doubt one of our most impressive vocalists, especially when she’s flexing her rootsy Nashville twang, as she did for a Google-assisted Ed Sheeran cover and a striking performance of her new song “Malibu” later in the show.
Watch more highlights from Cyrus’ The Tonight Show takeover below.