The Climb by Miley Cyrus is such an inspirational song and one of the most requested on The Nite Lite. Read the story behind this uplifting anthem…
The Climb was not intentionally written for the 2009 film Hannah Montana: The Movie. Co-writer Jessi Alexander conceived the song’s melody while driving to the home of songwriting partner Jon Mabe. Once she arrived, she and Mabe developed a song about overcoming life’s obstacles inspired by their personal struggles in the music industry. Alexander referred to the process as a form of “therapy” and recalled:
“I was just driving to work one day. It’s just a typical day, nothing really special about that day. And I just had this melody in my head. And I couldn’t get to my co-writer Jon Mabe or my guitar fast enough because I just wanted to play what I was hearing. And, you know, we just kinda put it down pretty fast and didn’t really think anything about it. The lyrics kinda started to come, I think for both of us, being kinda underdogs in the business. My co-writer was a song plugger, just turned songwriter, and I’d had record deals and ups and downs in the music business. I think for both of us, we just came from a place of, you know, ‘it’s not a race’.”
The song they created was titled “It’s the Climb” and was written in the third person. Alexander described the original song as “more spiritual” than the version that was released, and said it contained lines about prayer. However, she claimed she knew it was pop and suitable for The Walt Disney Company.
Before reaching Cyrus, the song had been rejected by several country artists and was eventually picked up by Peter Chelsom, director of Hannah Montana: The Movie, who gave it to Cyrus to record for the film. Chelsom found what would become The Climb while visiting Nashville during a quest to find eleven new songs for Hannah Montana: The Movie.After hearing Alexander’s music, Chelsom asked her to submit songs for consideration. Alexander recorded “It’s the Climb” on a CD and gave it to him. Several weeks later, Chelsom called to say that “the song was gonna be an integral part of the movie”. However, he wanted Mabe and Alexander to rework some of the song’s content and to change the song from third person to first person. Alexander felt the changes amounted to a “substantial amount of the song” and commented, “For me, when you change something from third person to first person, it can change the whole meaning of a line. She and Mabe ”wrestled over taking words out” and how much they could change while maintaining the song’s integrity. After a number of drafts, Mabe and Alexander finally created a version they felt was “perfect for the movie”.
Upon receiving the final draft, filmmakers told the songwriters, “This is perfect for Miley, it’s gonna change her life, gonna change your life.” Chelsom commented that the song “turned up” the film’s music level by tapping into Cyrus’s newfound vocal range. As with the other songs featured in Hannah Montana: The Movie, the song is “tightly woven into the fabric of the story and the characters”. In the film, Cyrus plays Miley Stewart, a character with a secret double life as superstar Hannah Montana. Keeping this secret causes trouble between Miley and many of the other characters in the film, and leaves Miley confused and contrite. She expresses her emotions by writing “The Climb”. According to film producer Alfred Gough, “The song is her journey, the lessons she’s learned in the movie. It’s an epic power ballad that encapsulates Miley’s journey and the message of the film.”
“The Climb” was chosen as the lead single from the soundtrack due to its country elements, which introduced Cyrus to listeners beyond her usual pop audience. The song is Cyrus’s first solo effort marketed directly to country radio, though she had previously recorded a country duet with her father, Billy Ray Cyrus which was titled “Ready, Set, Don’t Go”, and released to the country market in 2007. Bill Lamb, of About.com, said the song signified Cyrus’s hope for a position in country music, noting her duet with country singer Taylor Swift at the 51st Grammy Awards. Warren Truitt, also of About.com, referred to the song as “Miley’s serious attempt to break into the contemporary country world.” The Climb was leaked to the Internet on February 4, 2009, two days prior to its official release for airplay.
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