"The Climb" is a song performed by American singer Miley Cyrus, for the 2009 film Hannah Montana: The Movie. The song was written by Jessi Alexander and Jon Mabe, and produced by John Shanks. It was released on February 10, 2009, as the lead single of the film's soundtrack by Walt Disney Records. The song is a power ballad with lyrics that describe life as a difficult but rewarding journey. It is styled as a country pop ballad, and was Cyrus' first solo song to be released to country radio. The instrumentation includes piano, guitar and violins.
"The Climb" was not intentionally written for the 2009 musical film Hannah Montana: The Movie. Co-writer Jessi Alexander conceived the song's melody while driving to the home of songwriting partner Jon Mabe. Once she arrived, she and Mabe developed a song about overcoming life's obstacles inspired by their personal struggles in the music industry. Alexander referred to the process as a form of "therapy" and recalled,
The song they created was titled "It's the Climb" and was written in third person. Alexander described the original song as "more spiritual" than the version that was released, and said it contained lines about prayer. However, she claimed she knew it was pop and suitable for The Walt Disney Company.
Before reaching Cyrus, the song had been rejected by several country artists. It was eventually picked up by Peter Chelsom, director of Hannah Montana: The Movie, who gave it to Cyrus to record for the film. Chelsom found what would become "The Climb" while visiting Nashville, Tennessee, during a quest to find eleven new songs for Hannah Montana: The Movie. After hearing Alexander's music, Chelsom asked her to submit songs for consideration. Alexander recorded "It's the Climb" on a CD and gave it to him. Several weeks later, Chelsom called to say that "the song was gonna be an integral part of the movie". However, he wanted Mabe and Alexander to rework some of the song's content and to change the song from third person to first person. Alexander felt the changes amounted to a "substantial amount of the song" and commented, "For me, when you change something from third person to first person, it can change the whole meaning of a line." She and Mabe "wrestl[ed] over taking words out" and how much they could change while maintaining the song's integrity. After a number of drafts, Mabe and Alexander finally created a version they felt was "perfect for the movie".
Upon receiving the final draft, filmmakers told the songwriters, "This is perfect for Miley, it’s gonna change her life, gonna change your life." Chelsom commented that the song "turned up" the film's music level by tapping into Cyrus's newfound vocal range. As with the other songs featured in Hannah Montana: The Movie, the song is "tightly woven into the fabric of the story and the characters". In the film, Cyrus plays Miley Stewart, a character with a secret double life as superstar Hannah Montana. Keeping this secret causes trouble between Miley and many of the other characters in the film, and leaves Miley confused and contrite. She expresses her emotions by writing "The Climb". According to film producer Alfred Gough, "The song is her journey, the lessons she's learned in the movie. It's an epic [...] power ballad that encapsulates Miley's journey and the message of the film."
"The Climb" was chosen as the lead single from the soundtrack due to its country elements, which introduced Cyrus to listeners beyond her usual pop audience. The song is Cyrus's first solo effort marketed directly to country radio, though she had previously recorded and released a country duet with her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, which was titled "Ready, Set, Don't Go", in 2007. "The Climb" was leaked to the Internet on February 4, 2009, two days prior to its official release for airplay. In October 2009, it was re-released to countries outside the United States in the international version of Cyrus' extended play, The Time of Our Lives.
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