Somewhere along the last year or two, Miley Cyrus became the most likably weird chick in the pop game: Her stripped-down covers of country classics proved that her talent is more or less unparalleled, while goofy gambits like the twerking video showed that she doesn’t take herself too seriously, even though her haircut is still way cooler than yours.
Meanwhile, she’s been in the studio with production powerhouses like Mike Will and Pharrell — responsible for many of the most innovative and infectious tunes that have dominated radio for the last year — and her labor finally bears fruit in the form of her lead single, “We Can’t Stop,” a hazy slice of downtempo pop that doesn’t sound like anything else on the radio.
It’s a weird song, isn’t it? There’s something kind of brilliantly woozy about it; it sounds quintessentially California, in a cruising-lazily-through-the-streets-of-west-L.A. kind of way. The beat thuds dully, and that low, distorted vocal sample is sinister in the way Mike’s best songs always are, but that pre-chorus is fabulously infectious, and the chorus has a proper pop hook. The lyrics alternate between fan-friendly YOLO riffing and references to molly and getting turnt, which marks a weird but oddly fitting direction for her. The whole thing just feels strange, and kind of wonderful, and curiously diffuse and borderline revelatory.
But most of all, it feels like a perfect encapsulation of the last few years of artistic and personal development for Miley. She still doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. This song doesn’t, either.