"I look at Miley as a female Justin Timberlake," he told MTV News. "The reason why I say that is her work ethics are incredible. That girl can sing so good that I was very impressed. I couldn't believe it. I'm like, 'This is Miley Cyrus? She's singing the song?' "
Timbaland said he and Cyrus sat for hours trying to get the song — which he says is about needing only the music and nothing else, — just right. "She went in and knocked it out. She killed it," he said. "She loved the song, so she killed it."
He's just hoping the 17-year-old will be given the creative freedom to make the leap into making more adult music. "When you go that [teenybopper] route, you can only be big in two places — either TV or music," he said. "And hers, unfortunately, is TV. So she's big at TV and music. She's got to build up to that."
But he has no doubt that she'll be able to bridge the gap.
"She gonna get there — watch," he said. "We developed a great relationship."