SongWriting Analysis: Miley Cyrus “We Can’t Stop”

Writer: Miley Cyrus, Mike Williams II, Timothy Thomas, Theron Thomas, Douglas Davis, Ricky Walter
Producer: Mike Will Made It
BPM: 80

I remember singing karaoke with one of my homies and we were doing Miley Cyrus’s “Party In The U.SA.”
(go ahead, ask why) Cause it’s a great song. And it’s fun to sing, that’s why. Anyways we were singing it, with our “amazing” singing voices when some girl from the crowd goes “If you’re gonna sing this song, at least sing it right.”

Me and my friend kept singing, but I was thinking “What??? This is karaoke…. Not exactly an opera or a choir recital.”

“It’s our party and we can do what we want.”

And that’s why “We Can’t Stop” is a hit. The theme being Me Against The World. Always ask yourself what kind of questions the title raises. Why exactly can’t they stop us? Well it’s because we’re having a party here. OUR party. 
Red cups, sweaty bodies and hands up in the air cause right now we ain’t care.

There is only a slight lyrical development here. The first verse feels like a bit more of a setup verse and the second verse to solidify the theme of “not caring.”

Really pay attention to the simplicity, yet effectiveness of the message. We Can’t Stop because those lyrics are empowering. Hey to the girls with the big butts, shake it like you at a strip club.

We Can’t Stop Lyrics –

It’s like Kesha on Benadryl – Adam Carlson of Entertainment Weekly

And of course there’s no drug references in the song at all….

It’s great to see the Rihanna, Stargate, Mike WillMade It influence making it across the pop landscape right now. Along with Selena’s “Come & Get It”, this is another track that is heavily influenced by Rihanna’s midtempo Diamonds style.

The song structure starts right away with the hook, complete with Mike Will Made It tag. The “chopped and screwed” hook really adds to the overall midtempo feel of the song.  Really pay attention to the drum buildup, first starting with just the kickdrum and a rimshot. Then a louder, snappier snare.  

Then during the pre-hook, the hi-hats really kick into gear, only to have the drums dropout midway. Then come right back during the hook. I really like the bass driven bridge buildup towards the end of the song.

I like how simple Miley’s vocals are in this song. Some musicians look down on that, but the mark of the a truly great pop song is it’s singability so sometimes the best thing to do is to dial it down. Miley does some nice oooh’s to fill out the sound.  She adds some vocal contrast by showing off her higher range during the bridge.

One of the best part of the video is the blatant Pills speaker product placement, haha! And then weird pop-illuminati images.

All of this adds some nice contrast and interest to the song.

How do you like to add contrast to the songs you write?


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