"Wrecking Ball" was written by Sacha Skarbek, Stephan Moccio, Dr. Luke, Maureen Anne McDonald and Henry Russell Walter. The production of the song was handled by Lukasz Gottwald and Russell Walter, known by their stage names, Dr. Luke and Cirkut. A power ballad with "anguished" vocals by Miley Cyrus, "Wrecking Ball" has been described as a "heartbroken counterpoint" to the "hedonism" of her previous single, "We Can't Stop". The inclusion of the song in the album had already been confirmed back in July 2013, during an interview with Idolator.
The single already charted at #14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the official music video was released on 9 September 2013 on VEVO. It was directed by Terry Richardson. The video begins with a close-up of Miley Cyrus standing in front of a completely white backdrop and crying while performing the song. The video also shows Cyrus sitting naked on top of a wrecking ball and licking a sledgehammer. 24 hours after its release, the video reached a peak of 19.3 million views, breaking VEVO record held by One Direction with 12.3 million views.