The song was written by Cyrus in collaboration with Antonina Armato, Tim James, and Devrim Karaoglu. Cyrus described it as a "total dance track" with a cool concept. "Who Owns My Heart" was written about the feelings a club's environment can lead one to believe. Cyrus depicted the club scene to be very sexy, which she thought was primarily composed by the music playing and intense lighting, and thought that it might trigger fake emotions with the person one is dancing with. She stated, "If you're out, dancing at a club, the way the whole vibe is [...] Do you actually like the person you're dancing with or is just the whole ambiance of what's going on?"
"Who Owns My Heart" is a dance-pop and electropop song with a length of three minutes and 35 seconds. It is an uptempo and predominantly club-oriented number that has Techno influences, as well as Eurodance music qualities but in a darker tone, and is inspired by 1980s music. The song is set in common time and has a driving dance tempo of 136 beats per minute. It is written in the key of A minor and Cyrus' vocals span two octaves, from G3 to C5. It follows the chord progression A5–F5–D5–E5. "Who Owns My Heart" is heavy in rubbery and bubbling disco synths. Keyboard riffs also drive the song's instrumentation. Lyrically, "Who Owns My Heart" speaks of the thrill of meeting a potential love interest on the dance floor. Verses and the bridge describe the setting using comparisons to numerous things, including tsunamis and rodeos. The song's refrains proceed to question, "Who owns my heart? Is it love or is it art?"
Tanner Stransky of Entertainment Weekly stated, "This song is a pulsy, possibly club-ready jam that deserves single status." Heather Phares of Allmusic used "Who Owns My Heart" as an example of, according to her, a recurring problem on Can't Be Tamed: "too often, Cyrus equates grown-up with joyless". Alexis Petridis of the United Kingdom magazine The Guardian felt the song was a gamely attempt at Lady Gaga. He said the chorus invites the answer: "probably that creepy bloke from the Disney Channel who went on about violating your godliness." Evan Sawdey of PopMatters also found an alternate answer to the song's chorus. "It’s commerce that owns your heart, Miley, and it always has been", he wrote. Mikael Wood of Billboard compared "Who Owns My Heart" to 2010 singles released by The Black Eyed Peas. Nick Levine of Digital Spy said it was a post-GaGa Hi-NRG track that was inclined to the generic. However, he said that lyrical references were a large reminder that Cyrus sung the track. Ed Masley of The Arizona Republic deemed "Who Owns My Heart" to be one of the best tracks from Can't Be Tamed, despite containing a "cheesy ABBA-worthy chorus". Jon Caramanica of The New York Times also perceived the song to be "in the vein of Cascada" and one of the most "exciting" on Can't Be Tamed. He said it was a sound that "Ms. Cyrus hasn’t previously shown any affinity for and may never again. Still, it’s a timely and sharp sound."
On the week ending November 27, 2010, "Who Owns My Heart" debuted and peaked at number 76 on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles, its only week on the chart. The song debuted at number 35 on the Austrian Singles Chart, on the week ending November 19, 2010. The following week, "Who Owns My Heart" descended to number 50 and, later, number 54 before completely falling from the chart. On the week ending November 22, 2010, "Who Owns My Heart" debuted and peaked at number 24 on the German Singles Chart. In the succeeding week, the song dropped to number 39. The track continued to descend in positions until spending its last week on the German Singles Chart on the week ending January 10, 2011. The song spent a total of seven weeks on the chart. "Who Owns My Heart" also charted on the Belgian Tip Singles Chart (Flanders) and the Slovakian Airplay Singles Chart, peaking at number two and 35, respectively.
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