Party in the U.S.A.

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"Party in the U.S.A."
A teenage female with long, curly brunette hair and a gray T-shirt faces the font as she touches her head with her right hand and waist with her left. Letters on the girl's chest spell "Miley Cyrus" in cursive while "Party in the U.S.A." is spelled in print in the bottom right corner. The image has a lavender background.
Single by Miley Cyrus
from the album The Time of Our Lives
Released August 11, 2009 (2009-08-11)
Format
Recorded 2008; 3180 Media Group (Savannah, Georgia)
Length 3:22
Label Hollywood
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Dr. Luke
Miley Cyrus singles chronology
  • "Party in the U.S.A."
  • (2009)

"Party in the U.S.A." is a song by American recording artist and actress Miley Cyrus for her first extended play (EP) The Time of Our Lives (2009). It was released on August 11, 2009, by Hollywood Records as the lead single from the project. The song was written and produced by Dr. Luke, with additional songwriting provided by Jessie J and Claude Kelly. "Party in the U.S.A." was originally intended for Jessie J, but after deciding it was not edgy enough for her, they passed it to Cyrus and adjusted the lyrics to fit her persona. Not completely identifying with "Party in the U.S.A.", Cyrus chose it for The Time of Our Lives partially due to a need for tracks. The song is a pop song, while the lyrics reflect her relocating from Nashville, Tennessee, to Hollywood, California. This is one of three collaborations between Cyrus and Dr. Luke, with EP title track "The Time of Our Lives" and "Wrecking Ball" following in 2013.

"Party in the U.S.A." was a critical and commercial success, reaching the top ten of charts in eight countries. In the United States, the song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was the sixth-best-selling digital single of 2009 and was also deemed as one of the best-selling singles in history. It remains Hollywood Records' fastest and best-selling single to date, selling 6 million copies worldwide as of October 2012. The single was certified seven times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)[1] and quadruple platinum by Music Canada.

The music video for "Party in the U.S.A.", directed by Chris Applebaum, pays tribute to the 1978 film Grease and Cyrus' parents' courting days. It occurs mainly at a drive-in theater and won the MuchMusic Video Award for Best International Artist Video at the 2010 award show. The song was performed live for Cyrus' world tours, the 2009 Wonder World Tour, the 2011 Gypsy Heart Tour and the 2014 Bangerz Tour. At the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, Cyrus' use of a pole during a performance of "Party in the U.S.A.", which some interpreted to be a dance pole, caused a media uproar. Although co-writer Jessie J originally decided not to record "Party in the U.S.A." after writing it, she did eventually, among various other artists, perform a cover version of the song. "Party in the U.S.A." has also been parodied by "Weird Al" Yankovic.

Background[edit]

Soon after signing a record deal with Lava Records, aspiring English singer Jessie J commenced to work on her debut album.[2] She collaborated with songwriters and producers Dr. Luke and Claude Kelly in her first writing session, where "Party in the U.S.A." was conceived with the intention of being performed by Jessie J.[3] However, she decided not to record the song, believing it was not edgy enough for her to perform. She explained, "And I remember thinking this song is amazing, but I don't know if it's me 110 percent, you know. You can kind of feel it."[2] The song reached Cyrus while she was creating an EP with Dr. Luke. The writing team then reworked the lyrics,[4] intending to write an accompanying theme for Cyrus' joint clothing line with Max Azria, exclusively sold in Wal-Mart stores.[5] In order to please audiences, Dr. Luke, Kelly and Jessie J fixated on composing a fun, upbeat song that narrated reflections of Cyrus' personality. "They feel they're buying into a great experience but also buying into the artist", Kelly said of the song's fans. To write his contributions to the song, Kelly said he desired to mimic Cyrus' songwriting: "It’s the same song from a different point of view, you just have to find that unique perspective."[6] To record the song's instrumentation, they decided to mingle computerized sound with "the warmth of live instrumentation", using live electric guitars and drums.[6] Cyrus was pleased with the song and selected it partially due to a need of tracks for The Time of Our Lives.[7] This is the first of two collaborations between Dr. Luke and Cyrus. Dr. Luke would later co-produce Cyrus' 2013 smash hit single "Wrecking Ball".

Cyrus has stated "Party in the U.S.A." is not a reflection of her musically, as she preferred songs with more of an edge.[5] She said the track was "an all-American song"[8] and claimed she had never heard a Jay-Z song in November 2009, an artist which the lyrics refer to.[7] However, she did state she enjoyed Britney Spears' music, also mentioned in the song.[9] "Party in the U.S.A." was chosen as the lead single from The Time of Our Lives, as Cyrus thought personnel were "picking up on it", although she did not expect for it to be commercially successful.[5] The song was first played on radio stations on July 29, 2009, following a leak of the track on the Internet on July 28, 2009.[10] "Party in the U.S.A." was officially released for airplay on August 3, 2009,[10] and as a digital download on August 11, 2009.[11]

Composition[edit]

Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A." merges elements found within R&B and pop music. Its lyrics reflect her relocating from Nashville to Hollywood.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Party in the U.S.A." is a song with a length of three minutes and 23 seconds.[12] The song arranges R&B and pop music elements[13] and contains small influences from reggae.[14] The song is set in common time and has a moderate tempo of 96 beats per minute. It is written in the key of F#major and Cyrus' vocals span two octaves, from F#3 to D#5.[15] Cyrus' vocals feature belter refrains.[16] It follows the chord progression F#–A#m–D#m–C#.[15] The song's instrumentation includes a "clash between feathery jazz guitar chords and a booming synth bassline serving as hook".[17]

The lyrics for "Party in the U.S.A." are written in first person, about Cyrus' relocation from Nashville, Tennessee to Hollywood, California.[16] In the verses, she details occurrences in Hollywood, such as peers questioning her attire,[16] that cause for her to feel homesick and intimidated.[18] Towards the conclusion of each verse, the protagonist listens to her favorite Jay-Z and Britney Spears song, respectively, which leads to the refrains describing how her favorite songs make her feel more confident.[16] Vicki Lutas of BBC interpreted, "However cringe it sounds, your favourite song can make you feel okay and feel more confident, even if you're not really."[16]

Critical reception[edit]

A teenage female with long, brunette hair, a fishnet shirt and a jean vest sings into a microphone. Behind her, images of a cityscape are projected.
Cyrus performing "Party in the U.S.A." during her first world tour, the Wonder World Tour

"Party in the U.S.A." garnered critical acclaim from music critics. Michael Hann of The Guardian said "Party in the U.S.A." was a cute pop song.[17] Later, while reviewing the Wonder World Tour, he elaborated that the song was a reminder "that manufactured pop need not be a bad thing – if the manufacturing is good enough".[19] Jaime Gill of Yahoo! Music said, "Fortunately for Cyrus, [the other songs from The Time of Our Lives] flee your brain cells within seconds of their final chords, which means you're more likely to remember the breezily brilliant hit 'Party in the U.S.A.'"[20] Mikael Wood of New York City's Time Out magazine described the song as a "killer tune [...] which proves that Miley makes for a much better rapper than you might expect".[21] Heather Phares of Allmusic selected the track as one of the EPs best, describing it as a frothy party anthem suitable for Cyrus' alias, Hannah Montana.[22]

Erik Ensrst of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the song was "ridiculously catchy".[23] Mikael Wood of Entertainment Weekly decided that "Party in the U.S.A." was Cyrus' bouncy attempt at urban music, since she had previously transitioned into other markets.[24] Jessica Holland of The Observer deemed "Party in the U.S.A." one of the highlights on The Time of Our Lives.[18] Michael Menachem of Billboard stated the song was one of Cyrus' most entertaining songs. Menachem continued, "[Dr. Luke] injects the song with an energy recalling Robyn and early Gwen Stefani. After successfully tackling dance and country formats and delivering one of the year's strongest ballads ('The Climb'), Cyrus continues to show off her impressive range."[14] Ryan Brockington of The New York Post said that although the track was more mainstream than Cyrus' prior singles, he did not hate it.[25] Vicki Lutas of BCC described "Party in the U.S.A." as "a breath of fresh air" while being "seriously stomping" and slightly relatable. She said the song's best attribute was Cyrus' voice and concluded that Cyrus contains an ability of making her voice sound interesting all the time. Upon listening to the track, Lutas feels that "suddenly you think someone else is in the room with you and you've got all the ingredients for, well, a huge party contained in one little song."[16]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Party in the U.S.A." debuted and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 on the week ending August 29, 2009, due to the sale of over 226,000 digital downloads,[26] thus becoming the fastest-selling single released by Hollywood Records.[27] It was kept off number one by "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. It became Cyrus' best-charting effort on the chart up to that point, surpassing her prior best-charting effort "The Climb", which peaked at number four in May 2009.[26] The week's appearance also marked the highest debut by a female solo artist since Carrie Underwood's "Inside Your Heaven", which debuted at number one in July 2005.[27] In the succeeding weeks, "Party in the U.S.A." continued to sell and chart on the Billboard Hot 100 strongly, spending 16 consecutive weeks in the top ten[28] and 28 weeks in total.[29] It also peaked at number one on Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs), and number 13 on Adult Pop Songs.[28] According to Billboard, "Party in the U.S.A." was the sixth-best selling digital single of 2009 and 18th-best selling digital single of all time.[30][31] The single was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments exceeding four million copies and became Hollywood Records' best-selling single to date.[32] By October 2012, "Party in the U.S.A" had surpassed the 5 million sales mark in the United States,[33] making Cyrus the youngest artist to have a single that sold more than five million downloads.[34] The song is among the one of the best-selling singles of all time. As of July 2014, the song has sold 5,542,000 downloads in the US.[35]

"Party in the U.S.A." peaked at number three on the Canadian Hot 100.[28] The single was certified quadruple platinum by the Music Canada for the sales of 320,000 digital downloads.[36] The song also became successful in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. On the week ending September 13, 2009, "Party in the U.S.A." debuted at number 14 on the Australian Singles Chart. The following week, the song ascended to a new peak at number nine and peaked at number six on the week ending November 8, 2009.[37] The single was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for the shipment of 140,000 copies.[38] "Party in the U.S.A." debuted at number 11 on the New Zealand Singles Chart and peaked at number three on the week ending November 9, 2009.[39] The single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) for the shipment of 15,000 copies.[40] On the week ending January 9, 2010, "Party in the U.S.A." debuted at number 49 on the Japan Hot 100 Chart[41] and, in the succeeding week, reached its peak at number four.[28]

In the United Kingdom, "Party in the U.S.A." entered and peaked at number 11.[42] The song tied with "See You Again" and "The Climb", which charted in August 2008 and March 2009, respectively, for Cyrus' best-charting effort in the United Kingdom.[43] In Ireland, the song peaked at number five.[44] In mainland Europe, "Party in the U.S.A." peaked at number 17 on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles Chart,[28] number six on both the French Singles Chart[45] and Hungarian Singles Chart,[46] and peaked at number 12 on Norwegian Singles Chart.[47] It received lower commercial success throughout other regions of Europe, becoming a top 40 hit in Austria, Belgium (Wallonia and Flanders), Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain and Sweden.[47]

Music video[edit]

The top of the image shows a man with gelled, black hair, a white tee shirt, jeans and a black leather jacket that stands behind a swing at nighttime. The bottom of the image shows a teenage female with long, brunette hair facing forward as she grasps chains with both of her hands.
The scene from Grease where Travolta sings "Sandy" (top) triggered the conception for the music video for "Party in the U.S.A." (bottom).

Cyrus contacted Chris Applebaum to direct the accompanying music video for "Party in the U.S.A.", with ideologies for the video already conceived. Her ideas for the video's theme were about "high-gloss, glamorous white trash."[48] She told Applebaum she desired to pay tribute to one of her favorite films, Grease (1978), and her parents' courting days.[48] Video conception sprang forward with the idea to resemble the scene in Grease where John Travolta sings "Sandy". In the scene, Travolta exits from a car and walks over to a jungle gym, where he sits on a swing and performs the song as projections are displayed in the background.[48] To render homage to her parents' courting days, Cyrus and Applebaum named a drive-in theater in the video Corral Drive-In after a Kentucky drive-in where Cyrus' parents had a date. "In addition, Miley's mom Tish used to drive '79 black Pontiac Trans Am, Smokey and the Bandit (1977) style, and obviously that's the car that Miley arrives in", Applebaum said.[48]

The video commences by showing a drive-in theater in the day. Cyrus later arrives in a black 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, clothed by a black tank top, distressed hot pants, cowboy boots and a black vest. Cyrus and several female extras make their way to a blue pick-up truck, where Cyrus sings using a digital microphone and the extras accompany her. In the song's second verse, Cyrus lies against a wall depicting the drive-in's name, "Corral Drive-In". Then, an American flag unravels before a single wall in a vacant landscape, where she performs as sparkled confetti drops from above. Later, she, standing on a swing in the center, and numerous backup dancers appear in a jungle gym during the evening. For the song's last refrain, Cyrus performs with four backup dancers on a stage, where the background portrays the American flag and letters above it that spell "USA". Cut-scenes feature people entering the drive-in theater, Cyrus walking throughout the drive-in alone, or her and the backup dancers performing in the jungle gym. The video ends with Cyrus flipping her hair in the stage setting.

A 90-second snippet was shown on September 23, 2009, on Dancing with the Stars.[49] Subsequently that day, the video premiered online on ABC's Music Lounge.[49] Jocelyn Vena of MTV said, "The video is reminiscent of Cyrus' performance of the track on the Teen Choice Awards over the summer — minus the pole dancing."[49] According to a survey held by MTV, responses for the music video varied from populations who were "not feeling it" for various reasons to those who enjoyed "the video's energy and thought that the added bit of sexiness was a healthy progression for Cyrus."[50] At the 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards, the video won the MuchMusic Video Award for Best International Artist Video and was nominated for the MuchMusic Video Award for People's Choice: Favourite International Video, but lost to Adam Lambert's video for "Whataya Want From Me".[51] The video has generated nearly 330 million views on YouTube.[52]

Live performances[edit]

Cyrus performing "Party in the U.S.A." during the Bangerz Tour, alongside various Americana references, including Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell.

Cyrus' first live performance of "Party in the U.S.A." at the Teen Choice Awards held on August 10, 2009. Clothed by a tank top that revealed a portion of her bra, black hot pants and leather boots, Cyrus and backup dancers appeared from a trailer.[53] Midway through the performance, Cyrus danced atop an ice cream pushcart with a pole (which was suggested to be a dance pole by numerous critics) for approximately forty seconds.[54] Cyrus described the performance to be about her heritage: "[My] performance tonight is funny, but I wanted it to be about [something more]. I'm like, 'This is to represent where I am from. I'm so proud of it.' All the girls trying to be Hollywood and stuff with their big glasses, me shooing them away."[53] The performance was met with a media uproar in regards to her dancing being too suggestive and sexual for a teen-oriented event, which caused The Walt Disney Company to issue a statement distancing themselves from the performance.[55] Ian Drew, senior editor of US Weekly said, "She already has this risque image, so it really wasn't much of a stretch. That's how Britney [Spears] took off. She was the good girl gone bad, and it looks to be working for Miley as well."[56] Other contemporary critics used negative comparisons to Spears,[57] but Cyrus welcomed the comparisons via a post on her official Twitter account.[54] Child psychologist Wendi Fischer told Newsday: Cyrus was communicating to her fans that it is acceptable to pole dance, which, according to Fischer, was unacceptable. "Miley's only 16. Why is she rushing it?", she concluded.[56] Other critics defended Cyrus. Apryl Duncan of About.com said viewers should have fixated on her accomplishments that night, winning six awards, rather than the sexuality of the performance.[54] Following the backlash of the performance, Cyrus replaced the ice cream pushcart with a luggage cart while touring.[58]

In 2009 Cyrus continued promotion for the single and The Time of Our Lives, performing "Party in the U.S.A." on The Today Show[59] and VH1 Divas in the United States.[60][61] In the winter, she promoted the track in the United Kingdom at 95.8 Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball,[62] the annual gala for British Royal Family, Royal Variety Performance,[63] and Alan Carr: Chatty Man,[64] as well as in Ireland on The Late Late Show.[65] Cyrus performed the song on all venues of her first world concert tour, the Wonder World Tour, which extended from September to December 2009. During each performance, Cyrus was costumed by a black tank top, black hot pants, black leather boots and a blue jean vest as images on the overhead screens depicted an abundance of sites in and representations of the United States.[66] She roamed throughout the stage with numerous backup dancers and, mid-performance, entered a luggage cart that escorted her throughout the stage again.[66] The lyrics' reference to Jay-Z was replaced with one for Michael Jackson in all live performances.[67] Mikael Wood of The Los Angeles Times, who attended the September 22, 2009, concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, believed "Cyrus managed a reasonable approximation of a rapper" in the performance.[67] Dave Paulson of The Tennessean reported that the song's performance at the November 25, 2009, concert at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee, "received cheers at Jonas Brothers–worthy decibel levels."[68]

In 2010, while promoting her Can't Be Tamed album, Cyrus performed "Party in the U.S.A." at Rock in Rio concerts in Lisbon, Portugal,[69] and Madrid, Spain,[70] the 1515 Club in Paris, France,[71] G-A-Y club in London, England,[72] Good Morning America,[73] 2010 MuchMusic Video Awards,[74] and a concert at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, California, which was streamed across over thirty websites owned by MTV Networks.[75][76] In 2011 she performed the song in her second and third world concert tours, the Gypsy Heart Tour[77][78][79]

In 2013 Cyrus sang "Party in the U.S.A." during her performances held to promote Bangerz album. She performed the single on Jimmy Kimmel Live!,[80] 2013 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas,[81] The Today Show,[82] and the series of Jingle Ball concerts in December (including Jingle Bell Ball in Los Angeles).[83] In 2014 she included this song on her Bangerz Tour. While singing "Party in the U.S.A.", Cyrus wore a cropped blonde wig, a leotard with red, white, and blue sequins, a white cowboy hat, star spangled boots, and a set of fake teeth during the performance. The backup dancers were dressed as American monuments.[84] Her performance received positive reviews from critics. Théoden Janes of The Charlotte Observer wrote, "She turned a verse of Party in the U.S.A. into a cool, cocky rap"[85] and John J. Moser of The Morning Call said that the performance resonated with the audience, even though Cyrus was lifted atop a huge pedestal.[86] Jane Stevenson of the Toronto Sun wrote, "She went for a big ending, with fireworks, confetti, an elevating stage and dancers dressed as Abe Lincoln, Mount Rushmore, the Liberty Bell and The Statue of Liberty for the final older song Party in the U.S.A."[87] A critic from Nashville Scene wrote, "Party in the U.S.A. was sung by Miley and screamed back by every person in the crowd. Cue red-white-and-blue confetti. Cue fireworks. Pack the Bangerz Tour up and put the circus back on the road. Fans in other cities need to party, too."[88] Cyrus also performed the song during the musical festival on June 21, 2014, Summertime Ball at Wembley Stadium of London, in front of 80,000 people.[89]

Cover versions[edit]

Cyrus performing "Party in the U.S.A." during the Gypsy Heart Tour

Kidz Bop Kids recorded a cover version of the song for the seventeenth installment of Kidz Bop, released in 2010.[90] James Christopher Monger of Allmusic selected the track as one of Kidz Bop 17 '​s best and said it was fueled by the "same karaoke glee that fueled previous installments."[91] On a season six episode of The Office, "Sabre", Ed Helms (portraying Andy Bernard) and Ellie Kemper (portraying Erin Hannon) performed a parody of "Party in the U.S.A." for the coordinating director of Sabre, using an acoustic guitar. The parody was themed about the city which the series is set in, Scranton, Pennsylvania. Due their boss mispronouncing the word "Sabre", it ended without a rhyme.[92] Kelly West of Cinema Blend wrote, "Still, it was adorable seeing the two sing together. Unfortunately, the rhythm of their flirtation is just as awkward (and equally charming) as the rhythm of the song they attempted to perform."[92] Jessie J covered the song live at a concert for iHeart Radio in April 2011.[93] On the May 26, 2011 episode of talk show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, "Party in the U.S.A." was covered in the style of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, a recurrent bit on the show. Host Jimmy Fallon sang lead (impersonating Neil Young), while playing an acoustic guitar and harmonica. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young members David Crosby and Graham Nash joined to Fallon with vocal harmonies. Matthew Perpetua of Rolling Stone described it as "a sad, beautifully harmonized folk rendition of Miley Cyrus' 'Party in the U.S.A.' that manage[d] to make the joyful tween anthem sound like a vintage Sixties protest song."[94] A parody titled "Party in the CIA" was included on "Weird Al" Yankovic's 13th studio album, Alpocalypse (2011).[95] Tokyo Police Club in 2011 covered this song in the disk 10 years, 10 covers in 10 days. Prior to the 2012 London Olympics, the United States women's national soccer team made a video of the players lip-synching to the song; the video became very popular.[96] The song was also sung in a capella in the 2012 hit musical-comedy film Pitch Perfect. In the movie, the main stars sings the song while inside a bus and they also performed the song during the Finals of an a capella contest. The performance of the song was also included in the movie's official soundtrack.

Social impact[edit]

Following the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, a resurgence in the popularity of "Party in the U.S.A." video occurred. The official YouTube video was flooded with comments regarding the death of bin Laden and it was immediately deemed a celebratory anthem for the event. Moreover, the song's association to his death continued on other social medias, like Facebook and Twitter, and it was played as individuals celebrated outside of the White House.[97] About it becoming an anthem for bin Laden's death, Nitsuh Abebe of New York magazine wrote, "I have to confess that my list of reactions to the news did not get anywhere near 'watch a Miley Cyrus video.' The reason it occurred to others is surely as simple as it seems: This is a recent hit song whose title is dominated by the words "party" and "U.S.A." Looking for anything more apt would be overthinking it. Cyrus' video [...] is stocked with a great many of those things we like and do well: a drive-in theater, trucks and muscle cars, Daisy Dukes, giant flags. It is, just like bin Laden's death, another convenient opportunity to celebrate ourselves."[97]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[130] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[131] 4× Platinum 320,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[132] Platinum 15,000*
United States (RIAA)[133] 7× Platinumdagger 7,000,000[35]
United Kingdom (BPI)[134] Silver 200,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

dagger Since May 9, 2013, RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads.[135]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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