Should Have Been Bigger: Miley Cyrus’ “Who Owns My Heart”
In this franchise, we look back on songs that deserved a little more love and attention.
Can’t Be Tamed is still my favorite Miley Cyrus album. Bangerz was a better era and Younger Now displays more artistry, but the pop star’s third LP gave us bops, rebellion and the greatest heavy metal cover of all time. It also houses a pro-LGBTQ+ anthem (the amazing “My Heart Beats For Love”) and one of Miley’s most underrated singles. “Who Owns My Heart” arrived in late 2010 at a time when the electro-pop movement taking over the charts thanks to the breakout success of Lady Gaga and Kesha.
With a little help from Rock Mafia, Miley embraced the sound on “Who Owns My Heart.” Not only was the song a stone-cold banger, it also reflected a newfound maturity in the lyrics. “Creation shows me what to do, I’m dancing on the floor with you,” the (then) 17-year-old purrs over throbbing synths. “And when you touch my hand, I go crazy.” Hannah Montana wasn’t dead yet, but she was on life support. The hitmaker’s confusion as to whether the vibrations rattling through her body are hormones or club beats comes to the surface on the chorus.
“Who owns my heart? Is it love, or is it art?” Miley muses philosophically on the chorus. “‘Cause the way you got your body moving, got me confused and I can’t tell if it’s the beat or sparks.” The “Mother’s Daughter” icon also addressed that age-old dilemma in the controversial video, which was directed by Robert Hales. It’s hard to believe now, but the mere fact that Miley danced with boys and girls in the video was considered newsworthy. That controversy and the overall backlash to the Disney star’s changing image all but killed the song.
Happily, the second single from Can’t Be Tamed performed better in Europe and was instantly embraced by The Gays. While time has wearied the production somewhat, “Who Owns My Heart” is still a bop and most certainly should have been bigger. Revisit the underrated gem below.