Can't Be Tamed is the third studio album by American recording artist Miley Cyrus, released on June 18, 2010, by Hollywood Records; it would become her final album with the label after signing with RCA Records in 2013. Cyrus began planning the project in 2009, while travelling internationally for her Wonder World Tour, and continued into 2010. Described by Cyrus as a "good [record] to blast in your car", Can't Be Tamed represents a musical departure from her earlier work, which she had grown to feel uninspired by. As executive producers, Tish Cyrus and Jason Morey enlisted partners including Devrim Karaoglu, Marek Pompetzki, Rock Mafia, and John Shanks to achieve Cyrus' desired new sound. Their efforts resulted in a primarily dance-pop and pop rock record, with lyrical themes that revolve largely around breaking free of constraints and expectations.
Upon its release, Can't Be Tamed received generally mixed reviews from music critics, who were ambivalent towards perceived lack of musical focus and Cyrus' maturing public image. The album became Cyrus' lowest-charting and weakest-selling album in the United States. It charted moderately on record charts in internationally, reaching the top-ten in countries including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Two singles were released from Can't Be Tamed. Its title track "Can't Be Tamed" was released on May 14, 2010, and peaked at number eight on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and performed moderately worldwide. Follow-up single "Who Owns My Heart" was only released in selected European countries, failing to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 and charting poorly on European singles charts. Promotional efforts for Can't Be Tamed began to associate Cyrus with an increasingly provocative image, an effort continued with her fourth studio album Bangerz (2013). The record was primarily promoted through a series of television appearances and the Gypsy Heart Tour. The album has sold over 350,000 copies in the United States.
Cyrus announced that she intends to take a musical hiatus after completing Can't Be Tamed in order to explore a variety of musical genres and develop a sound befitting her tastes. Cyrus stated that her music isn't inspiring her the way it should be, and hoped Can't Be Tamed would be her last pop album. "The more I make music that doesn't truly inspire me, the more I feel like I'm blending in with everyone else", she said. Cyrus originally desired for a new, more rock inclined sound for her music. She later revealed Can't Be Tamed contained music influenced by pop singer Lady Gaga and possessed techno qualities. "It was a natural progression for her," said Abbey Konowitch, general manager of Hollywood Records. He commented that the album was more dance-pop than originally intended. "But it feels very comfortable for her, and it feels very comfortable in terms of the state of contemporary music".
Cyrus believed the summer 2010 release was appropriate because it was "definitely a good CD. It's good to blast in your car". The album was first released on June 18, 2010 in Germany and then on June 21, 2010 in the United States. Unlike Cyrus' and Hollywood Records' previous albums, Can't Be Tamed was released using a day-and-date format, following a new licensing deal with Universal Music Group in Europe. Konowitch presented the album at its earliest stage to representatives of Universal Music Group in Europe in order to speak of the new licensing deal that enabled day-and-day for its release; the approval allowed for them to commence global marking plan earlier than usual. "Normally our records are staggered throughout the world because of the availability of the artist. It's unusual for us to have the time and the music far enough in advance to do that," he said. A standard edition, containing only an audio CD, and a deluxe edition, containing an audio CD and a DVD, were released. The DVD contains previously unreleased footage from Cyrus' concert at The O2 Arena in London, England, which was part of her first world tour, the 2009 Wonder World Tour. It contains nineteen live performances and backstage interviews with Cyrus. The album artwork was revealed on May 7, 2010 through Cyrus' official website.
Can't Be Tamed was recorded as Cyrus traveled the world, largely due to the Wonder World Tour. In December 2009, she began the recording process in London, England.Album producerJohn Shanks, who previously produced Cyrus' hit single "The Climb", affiliated with Cyrus for the album and, in order to do so, navigated via airplane to different locations. Shanks would repeatedly travel to London in order to fulfill recording and writing sessions with Cyrus. Then, he would return to Los Angeles, California to continue further work on the tracks. The head of A&R at Hollywood Records, Jon Lind, said, "John spent quite a bit of time, God bless him [...] He was really a soldier and a world traveler for going to do this creative thing in between Miley's schedule."
Other producers Cyrus had previously worked with also appear on the album — Antonina Armato and Tim James, both of who produced Cyrus' hits "See You Again" and "7 Things". Cyrus described the environment during the recording process with Armato to be warm: "I call Antonina 'Mommy' because she's my second mom. No one could ever understand the relationship we have. I've been working with her for four years and every day I go into the studio and we just sit around and eat cupcakes and talk and I tell her everything about my life. I think that's why we make good music together." The finished product results in a variety of dance beats and synths, but Cyrus believed the sound was secondary to the personal lyrics therein.
"This record was good for me. I think every album has been almost like a little bit of therapy to just get out what you think and what you feel. I think this is the most honest a record of mine has been. I think this record shows a different maturity in me, a different light but it's also still being the people my fans can relate to. I'm a spiritual person but my main religion that people ask me is the core of what I do and what my songs are about is love. And that's, I think, what this world is lacking and what it's all about."
— Cyrus explaining the concept behind and themes on Can't Be Tamed.
Cyrus told Billboard magazine that she does not have a formal songwriting process and instead takes notes on her cellphone and the journal she stores in her computer. She said that she does not listen to pop music, and that her "13-year-old self would have beaten up her 17-year-old self" for being "a sellout". Nonetheless, she stated that the music on the album is meaningful to her. Musically, Can't Be Tamed varies and includes several dance numbers, many of which heavily rely on bass. "Liberty Walk", co-written by Cyrus, Antonina Armato, Tim James, John Fasse, and Nick Scapa is about someone who finds the courage to leave an abusive relationship. Cyrus, Armato, James, Paul Neumann, and Marek Pompetzki composed "Can't Be Tamed", the album's title track, which was written about being trapped and people observing her. The song, according to her, bears a theme of "breaking out and feeling free."
Cyrus recorded a cover version of Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn", from their 1988 album Open Up and Say... Ahh!, after hearing a crowd of people singing along to it. She deemed it "a classic" and one of her favorite songs. "I feel like the way the music industry is today really shelters kids and they aren't exposed to songs as honest and real as this one." Cyrus consulted the lead singer of Poison, Bret Michaels, who helped Cyrus analyze "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and then add her "own flare and edge". Michaels said the band receives numerous requests to cover the song and is always nervous about granting permission. "And I gotta tell you something. She nailed the song," he told MTV. He added that Cyrus was "one of the few musicians" that could "give ['Every Rose Has Its Thorn'] her own flare and make it sound good". Michaels sings backup on the cover. Cyrus conceived "Robot" in December 2009 in London, while traveling on the Wonder World Tour; it describes a desire to escape "the form and the machine everyone thinks you should be". Cyrus wrote the song "My Heart Beats for Love" for her gay hairdresser, one of her best friends. It is an attempt to persuade audiences to not discriminate against homosexuals and "be open to the world".
"Can't Be Tamed" was released as the album's lead single on May 14, 2010. Despite mixed reviews for the album, the single received positive critical and commercial reception. Ed Masely of The Arizona Republic writing, "The leadoff single, "Can't Be Tamed," [...] promised so much more than she's delivered here." It debuted at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, selling over 192,000 digital copies, number six on the Canadian Hot 100, and number five on the New Zealand Singles Chart. The song's accompanying music video, which premiered on E! News on May 4, was directed by Robert Hales and follows Cyrus and numerous backup dancers dressed in bird-like clothing as they escape a cage and trash a museum.
"Who Owns My Heart" was released as the album's second and final single on October 22, 2010. It would become her final single with Hollywood Records after signing with RCA Records in 2013. It was only released in selected European countries. A music video was released on October 20, 2010 resulting in criticism from the Parents Television Council for its sexual content. The single would become her final with the label
The album generated mostly mixed reviews from critics. Glenn Gamboa of Newsday said the album's primary fault is how confused it sounds; he says Cyrus is "hard to resist" on some tracks but lacked focus on others, such as while "wandering through" "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and rapping on "Liberty Walk", and that such songs made her "hard to take seriously". Ed Masely of The Arizona Republic agreed: "The trouble is, Miley's not a little girl, not yet a woman, and she seems a little stumped as to the best way one might bump and grind her way through the transition years in public." Masely was also disappointed that Cyrus had turned away from "the spunky bubblegum she did so well" and considered the album's best songs its "frothy electro-pop". Ron Harris of the Associated Press said Cyrus sounded "17 going on 15" as she continued to sing "vague love songs slathered in studio software instrumentals". He questioned Cyrus's large team of co-writers: "How do you claim artistic independence while maintaining a co-writing team that outnumbers the musicians?" In a kinder review, Rolling Stone said Cyrus and her album were undeniably Disney products, but were better for it: "Tamed was mostly cooked up by the pros who helped make Cyrus a Disney princess. It's a Top 40 record of a high order." Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a "B-", saying, "Despite her best rebellious efforts, Miley's just not (yet) that thorny a girl." Ian Drew of Us Weekly said the album's with Britney Spears-style declarations and dance beats ("I'm hot like that," she brags on "Can't Be Tamed") as well as big ballads that echo "The Climb." A glitch? As with Ms. Spears, overproduction cant mask her thin voice."
Many reviewers criticized the album's heavy use of technology on the album. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian said the album was "bog-standard pop-dance: rave synths, vocals chromed with Auto-Tune [...] in seeking to establish a more individual identity, Cyrus has become more generic." Brad Wheeler of The Globe and Mail claimed, "There’s not a sliver of individuality on this uninspired album". He said her auto-tuned voice was "nothing special" and the album's lyrics were cliche-ridden. Heather Phares of Allmusic commented, "Though pop was Cyrus' bread and butter during her Hannah years, the album’s synth-dominated tunes don’t jell with her voice; she sounds more natural and more grown-up on the songs that straddle rock and country." Phares also noted that "too often, Cyrus equates grown-up with joyless".The Washington Post reviewed saying, "Tamed" takes advantage of her vinegary personality, dividing itself between disposable, tinny dance pop tracks and generically sweeping, echo-y ballads."