By now, we’re all familiar with the general narrative: Formerly a Disney Queen (thanks to a little ol’ show called Hannah Montana), Miley Cyrus eventually outgrew her cage kept locked away inside the Magic Kingdom castle, outstretched her wings and made her great escape with an electro-pop declaration of independence in 2010: “Can’t Be Tamed”. Now — three years, one platinum blonde pixie cut, one engagement, some movies and a whole lot of puppies later — the Nashville native is flying higher (literally, as it were) than ever.
She’s been cooped up in the studio for well over a year now with the likes of hip-hop and R&B’s hottest producers, including Pharrell, Snoop Dogg and Mike WiLL Made It, the producer du jour responsible for radios’s most pleasurable R&B slow jams, including Kelly Rowland‘s “Kisses Down Low,” Ciara‘s “Body Party” and, most recently, Miss Mileybird’s major comeback track, “We Can’t Stop.”
In some ways, “We Can’t Stop” is an R-rated extension of her kid-friendly 2009 opus, “Party In The USA”. After all, it’s just Miley having some fun! But this time around, the party’s much less wholesome — there’s people standing in line to do a line in the bathroom (an ode to a lyric from her pal Pharrell’s N.E.R.D. smash, “Everybody Nose,” no doubt), big booty girls shaking it strip club style and, of course, an easily mistakable usage of the name “Miley” in the song’s bridge…which sure sounds a whole lot like “Molly.” (Blame the accent!)
It’s not all so ominous, though — this is a liberation! The Emancipation of Smiley Miley! And she’s here to tell you it’s okay to do you, boo via sage, if not cringe-worthy words of YOLO-friendly encouragement: “Forget the haters,” she advises us. There’s the oft-tatted “Only God Can Judge Us,” and perhaps the greatest line in pop music in 2013: “We run things, things don’t run we.”
The production is far from anything Miley’s ever delivered before, shuffling along on a tripping drum loop and bright piano melody that recalls Rihanna‘s “Umbrella” and Jessie J‘s “Price Tag.” The song only gets more interesting from there, including a stinging electronic undercurrent and Emile Haynie-like yelps in the distance. The beats are staggering, slurred and bleary-eyed — it’s essentially “Party In The USA” on sizzurp.
If the song’s not intriguing enough, there’s the accompanying video — and oh, what a video it is! Drag queen spankings, skulls made of french fries, alphabet soup, golden grills and all the twerking that fans of Diplo‘s “Bubble Butt” could ever dream of. It’s all very playful, and why wouldn’t it be? Mileybird’s ’bout that life.
And that’s what makes “We Can’t Stop” so irresistible: It’s a murky Mike WiLL production full of lurid drug references and anthemic melodies, as sung by a country-fied, twerk-happy, post-Disney pop princess. To some, it’s too try-hard. For others, it’s too foul for their tender ears. But let’s recognize it for what it really is: A rising pop star’s attempt to find her voice, experiment with a new sound and remain unapologetic while doing so. (She is — as Lesley would no doubt agree — still just being Miley, after all.)
It’s Miley’s house. It’s Miley’s rules. It’s Miley’s mouth and, like it or not, it’s Miley’s summer, too.
What do you think? Do you agree that Miley’s Mike WiLL Made It-produced party anthem has all the makings of this year’s ultimate summertime smash? Also, can you twerk?