There are lots of things that are difficult to really understand when they are happening right in that very moment, and that is true especially when it comes to music. Typically, I’ve heard it takes about 20 years after something is released to get a good grip on its impact and significance, and while that make sense, there are definitely certain projects that don’t take that long. Miley Cyrus’ 2010 album Can’t Be Tamed is one of them. Now, Can’t Be Tamed was an alum that I spent a good year of my high school experience obsessing over so I guess I do have some sort of nostalgic connection to it. However, when I sat down ten years after its initial release to listen to the album in full, one thing was very clear: this album had such a larger impact on music than it was given credit for.
2010 was a time in music where we were transitioning away from the pop rock that dominated the mid to late 2000s to a more synthy, dance pop style, and I loved every minute of it. It was a time where artists could experiment and have fun, and I can say for a fact that the beginning of the new decade was such a great time for music, especially pop music. Everyone was doing something different and mixed in that madness was an album from Miley Cyrus that had the perfect blend of 2000s pop rock with the new synth heavy dance features that were soon to take over. This record had it all; the perfect amount of inspirations from music past and enough of something new to keep it fresh and interesting. There was also an even balance of somber songs and carefree ones, basically one song for every emotion you can feel. So many of them are absolutely wonderful, albeit a tad bit outdated sounding at this point. But regardless, I go back to many of these songs frequently, especially “Robot”, which I still firmly believe to this day would have been an incredibly successful single.
Like I said before, this album is the epitome of early 2010s synth rock and “Robot” is the peak of it all. This song lyrically is about essentially being another cog in the machine, and we hear Miley sing about being controlled (not surprising this came out after she left Disney). But I think another significant factor about the song lies in the idea of feeling free to make your own choices, which, considering how young she was at the time, is an important thing for anyone who’s growing up and trying to live their own life. It fits with the same idea as the lead single and title tack “Can’t Be Tamed” and adds to the overall theme of the project. Yet no matter how related the lyrics are however, where this song really becomes something extraordinary is the production. It is probably one of the most heavily produced songs on here but that doesn’t matter; the fast pace of the track mixed with Miley’s altered vocals bring this idea of being a robot to life. The choruses are heavy with synthesizer and vocal layering but throughout the entire thing you can clearly hear percussion and a guitar keeping pace with it all. The bridge is one of my favorite parts on here, featuring a piano and prominent percussion, which really ties the entire thing together.
2010 is a year that could be summed up with so many great songs and albums, and this one definitely deserves to be included in that discussion.
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