"We Can't Stop"
Twenty-year-old Miley Cyrus still hasn't even reached the legal drinking age, but that little "detail" hasn't slowed her unabashed, unashamed, all-in and in-your-face party lifestyle. The news reports tell us so. And her latest single, "We Can't Stop," tells us too.
Introducing the song on Ryan Seacrest's daily radio show, Miley said, "Everyone always judges and says what they want. … But my fans have really stood by me no matter what I've been through, and this is a song that says where I'm at in my life right now."
So where exactly is she? She's at a party where everyone is drinking, taking E, snorting coke, dancing like strippers, looking for a casual hook up and generally raising their fists in the face of curmudgeons who might question the wisdom of those choices.
"It's our party, we can do what we want," a robotically rebellious drop-tuned voice begins. "It's our party, we can say what we want/It's our party, we can love who we want/We can kiss who we want/We can screw who we want/Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere/Hands in the air like we don't care/'Cause we came to have so much fun now/Got somebody here, might get some now."
Then comes a bit of profanity ("If you're not ready to go home/Can I get a 'H‑‑‑ no!'"), followed by this unequivocal message to haters: "Doing whatever we want/This is our house/This is our rules/And we can't stop/We won't stop/Can't you see it's we who own the night/ … We run things, things don't run we."
If that belligerent attitude weren't enough, stripper and cocaine allusions are up next: "To my homegirls here with the big butts/Shaking it like we at a strip club/ … And everyone in line in the bathroom/Trying to get a line in the bathroom/We all so turned up here." As for that Ecstasy reference, the chorus begins, "So la da da di, we like to party/Dancing with Molly," which is slang for the drug MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a euphoria-producing drug that's been popular in the dance scene for years. (Note that some fans are hearing Molly as Miley.)
I probably don't need to do so, but I feel compelled to connect the dots between what Miley told Mr. Seacrest and the risky behaviors she glorifies in this song. She says she's glad fans have stuck with her. But the lifestyle she's peddling to them now, Pied Piper-style, is one of unadulterated hedonism: No limits on sex or drugs or drinking or anything, it seems. That's the "good life" according to Miss Cyrus these days.
It would be tempting to think that Miley's legion of fans from her now-distant (and yet so recent) Hannah Montana days have perhaps moved on to another role model as she's gotten older and behaved more and more erratically and provocatively. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. Within a day of "We Can't Stop" arriving at iTunes outlets around the world, it shot to the top of the singles chart in a whopping 18 countries, and into the Top 10 in 24 others. Clearly, Miley's still got significant cultural traction—traction that spans the globe.
An article about the song in U.K.'s The Mirror was titled, "Miley Cyrus Sparks Drug Outrage With Reference to Ecstasy, Cocaine and Strippers in We Can't Stop Lyrics." But is there really outrage? Isn't it more like shrugs and acceptance? A sense of inevitability?
Sandwiched into the middle of her messy lyrics is this Tupac Shakur-inspired line: "Remember, only God can judge us/Forget the haters, 'cause somebody loves ya'." And flaunting itself on the fringes of these verses is a promotional photo featuring Miley in a thong-like tankini that leaves very little to the imagination … or covered.
The dissonance is deafening.