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"Can't Be Tamed" is a song by American recording artist Miley Cyrus for her third studio album Can't Be Tamed (2010). It was released on May 14, 2010 by Hollywood Records as the lead single from the record. The song was written by Cyrus, Antonina Armato, Tim James, Paul Neumann, and Marek Pompetzki, while production was handled by Armato and James. A Rockangeles remix version featuring rapper Lil Jon was included as a bonus track on digital editions of the album. According to Cyrus, "Can't Be Tamed" describes a desire to break out and experience freedom. The lyrics deal with the themes of freedom and self-expression, approached by sultry lyrics.
"Can't Be Tamed" received generally positive responses by music critics. It also garnered commercial success. The song peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached its highest peak at number five on both the Irish Singles Chart and New Zealand Singles Chart. The song's accompanying music video was directed by Robert Hales and follows Cyrus performing with backup dancers throughout a museum. Cyrus is first trapped in a giant cage, being observed by spectators; she then escapes and trashes the museum. She has promoted "Can't Be Tamed" by performing it at several venues, including a performance on Britain's Got Talent that resulted in negative reactions from the media. The song is also a part of Cyrus' second world tour, Gypsy Heart Tour.
"Can't Be Tamed" was co-written by Miley, Antonina Armato, Tim James, Paul Neumann, and Marek Pompetzki and produced by Armato and James. According to Cyrus, the track's moral is to free yourself from any biding or hindrance, in particular application to women. Cyrus said the song's message applies to different situations. Personally to her, "it is about being a cage and people looking at you." As for others, she believed it could describe high school, in a situation where "someone feeling they have to be one way to be with a clique and they want to be who they are. A relationship, or whatever, it is just breaking out and feeling free." Hollywood Records described "Can't Be Tamed" as a "a self-empowering song in which Miley asserts that she has to stay true to herself in relationships".
At four meetings throughout Europe, Cyrus' manager, Jason Morey, presented the album Can't Be Tamed to representatives from Universal Music Group; the representatives confirmed what Hollywood Records in the United States had already decided, that the track would be released as the lead single. "Can't Be Tamed" premiered on April 30, 2010 on Cyrus' official MySpace page; it was officially released for airplay on May 3, 2010 and released as a digital download on May 18, 2010. In May 2010, Cyrus recorded the Rockangeles remix version of "Can't Be Tamed" with rapper Lil Jon at Rock Mafia Studios in Santa Monica, California. Lil Jon said the collaboration was "crazy" and thought audiences would enjoy the remix. Cyrus added, "He just came in and let it out. It's pretty rockin." They believed Lil Jon gave the remix more energy than the original version had.
"Can't Be Tamed" is a dance song with a length of two minutes and 48 seconds. The song also explores predominant styles in the electronic music genre. The song is set in compound time and has a fast tempo of 118 beats per minute. It is written in the key of B minor and Cyrus' vocals span two octaves, from A3 to D5. Cyrus belts her way through the choruses, while some lines in the verses feature processed vocals with the use of auto-tune. It follows the chord progression B5–D–A. Driven by a dark, pounding beat and the heavy use of synths, "Can't Be Tamed"'s instrumentation relies on drum machine.
Written solely in first person, "Can't Be Tamed" explores the themes of freedom and self-expression, approached by sultry lyrics. It puts emphasis to how she cannot be changed or molded into being something she is not. In the verses, Cyrus addresses confidence and the attempt to discover for what she is yearning for, respectively. Choruses have Cyrus shouting the title and variations of it in a repetitive manner, against the beat of the song. Monica Herrera of Billboard interpreted the lyrics "If there was a question about my intentions, I'll tell ya / I'm not here to sell ya" to be an official declaration of rebellion in order to dispose herself of tween role-model responsibilities. Likewise, various other critics believed "Can't Be Tamed" spoke of her completely drawing away from the image she had developed through Hannah Montana, which first aired in March 2006.
Critical ReceptionEditCritics typically reviewed "Can't Be Tamed" favorably. Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly felt the song was "not bad business for stationary cardio, but not the stuff year-end top tens are made of, either." She said it didn't offer "major sensations" and found it similar to Christina Aguilera’s "Not Myself Tonight" (2010). Greenblatt was also disappointed with the song's rhyming in the lines, "I'm not here to sell ya' / Or tell you to go to hell". Sonya Sorich of Ledger-Enquirer said that while she anticipated some negative reception, "Can't Be Tamed" was also a prime candidate for a guilty pleasure dance track." Heather Phares of Allmusic referred to "Can't Be Tamed" as "stomping" and selected it as one of the album's best. Fraser McAlpine of BBC said that though had a strong undercurrent of sex, Cyrus maintained classy throughout the track . "If Miley's gonna weather the Ensexification Moment it' be because she's doing it during a period of extrema GaGa, when videos are less about acreage of flesh and more about feathers and Victorian scientists. Oh, and because she's got the songs and the voice, that always helps", McAlpine concluded.
Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone rated the song three out of five stars and compared it to the musical styles of Rihanna. He added, "It's no 'Party in the U.S.A.' or 'See You Again,' but the chorus packs plenty of electro-fizz pizzazz". Bill Lamb of About.com rated "Can't Be Tamed" two and half out of five stars. He criticized the song for lyrics that headed into a "selfish territory", however, believing it would have airplay success. Monica Herrera of Billboard gave "Can't Be Tamed" a favorable review, writing, "But Cyrus knows how to proffer her sass. When she sneers, 'I'm not a fake, it's in my DNA,' in pre-emptive retaliation against her critics, she does it with the professionalism of a Disney-groomed star." Jarett Wieselman of The New York Post said he liked the song and that though he did not buy Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A." (2009), he feared he would not "be able to resist" buying "Can't Be Tamed". He said the song had a "naughty old school Britney Spears" vibe, called it "totally catchy" and predicted it would be a summer hit. Ailbhe Malone of The Irish Times wrote, "Miley’s taken a sexy electro-edge. Less "Party in the U.S.A.", more Party With My Parents Away, we like this. A LOT."