Understanding Miley Cyrus’ new track ‘We Can’t Stop’

Miley Cyrus tweeted a photo of herself from her forthcoming video for "We Can't Stop."
(@mileycyrus Twitter)
Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic

Miley Cyrus has a new song called “We Can’t Stop,” an ode to overindulgence, sleepless sleepovers, dancing, MDMA, big butts, bathroom lines, kissing, red plastic cups and sweaty bodies. The song, which seems as if it were written by an ninth-grader imagining her rebellious college sister’s lifestyle, celebrates celebration.

It’s Cyrus’ first single in three years, and in that time the former Hannah Montana has grown from a teen star and potential train-wreck into a self-aware 20-year-old celebrity and occasional musician whose early life as a Disney star seems a distant memory. She’s appeared on tracks by pop king, stripper-pole dubstep producer Borgore and hair metal has-been Bret Michaels -- not a trio that suggests she’s too interested in the aesthetics of music -- and has remained in the news through sassy tweets and Instagram snaps.

Hard evidence of her many preoccupations can be found in “We Can’t Stop,” a monosyllabic mess seemingly designed for use during sorority parties, strip club dances and bedroom tantrums. The singer released the song a few days ago, and Tuesday night teased the forthcoming video with the still seen above.

PHOTOS: Miley Cyrus: Life in pictures


The lyrics to “We Can’t Stop” can be found online, and they are about as poetic as an IRS audit letter. But those who want a condensed version of the ideas floating within Cyrus’ new track can also examine the word cloud of the lyrics presented above (click on image to expand), in which the most frequently used words are presented in larger fonts.

Note the ubiquity of the terms “party,” “want” and “stop,” suggesting a tension between desire and restraint less apparent in Cyrus’ sung version. Note too the little words, whose impact may be small on the page, but make a big dent when repeated in song: “Molly,” “line,” “bathroom,” “sunlight” and “judge,” among them.

Too much explication for such an unchallenging piece of work? Perhaps. But to use the thoughtful, incisive words of Cyrus in “We Can’t Stop,” there’s an ironclad defense: “La da dee da dee. We like to party.”


Taylor Swift joins Rolling Stones for ‘As Tears Go By’

Review: Bjork explores nature in ‘Biophilia’ at the Palladium

Review: Deep cuts from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the Fonda

Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit