Like most '90s kids can attest to, I grew up on Disney Channel. The media mogul churned out some of pop's greatest talents (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, even Ryan Gosling). Not surprisingly, much of my musical tastes haven't grown up after listening to classic Disney artists like Hilary Duff and Vanessa Hudgens.
I do listen to more alternative music (thanks for coming into my life Lana Del Rey, Marina and The Diamonds, John Mayer, Krewella, and Sky Ferreria), but I keep my tabs on Disney artists all the time. Here are my favorite Disney graduate releases this past year. Are you a Selenator, Zswagger, Lovatic or Smiler?
Selena Gomez is probably my favorite Disney (pop) princess. She has a girl-next-door meets exotic seductress air about her. "Come & Get It" is her breakout track from the album Stars Dance, but it's not the only amazing cut. My favorites are "Save The Day", the title track, "Write Your Name", and "Birthday". Even though Selena does not have the vocals to belt for beautiful ballads, her attitude and unique delivery make her a prime vehicle for EDM-laced songs. The album is straight up dance pop with Caribbean, hip-hop, electronic and Spanish flavors. From start to finish, Stars Dance is the perfect party album. Read my full review on Amazon.com.
Zendaya Coleman is Disney's newest music marketer on the scene. Contrary to what you might think, Zendaya packs a powerful performing punch. Just watch her music video for "Replay" and you'll see she has melismatic vocals and sharp dance skills (she is on Disney Channel's dance-centered show Shake It Up!). What sets her apart from the rest of the "artists" popping out of Disney Channel, is the music itself. Zendaya (the self-titled debut album) dazzles with R&B, dance, and Zswagger-tinged hip-hop. Auto-tune is used only sparingly to add musical texture to a record that highlights Zendaya's elastic voice. My favorites from this album are "Only When You're Close", "Putcha Body Down", and "Heaven Lost An Angel".
Actress, Glee-guest star, X Factor USA judge and novelist, Demi Lovato, has stunned in just about every non-Disney way. Her fourth album, Demi, establishes herself as a true Top-40 contender, not a washed-up teen idol. "Heart Attack" launched Demi into the pop stratosphere. Demi is Demi's best work yet, lyrically and vocally. Songs like "Nightingale", "Warrior", and "In Case" capitalize off Demi's signature sound that started with "Skyscraper". The album is both deep and flecked with light-hearted tunes.
Miley Cyrus knows how to market herself the best, and that's probably because she is no longer tied to Hollywood Records, a Disney disc-producing label. While Cyrus is the most controversial of these Disney darlings, her music is the most sonically interesting. Most Hollywood Records releases are white-washed with PG lyrics and a vocal filters that clarify, cleanse, and conform the singer's contributions. The eclectic Bangerz has features from Britney Spears, Nelly, and, to my distaste, Future. While Miley mostly meanders on this album (see my review in The Gonzaga Bulletin), Bangerz does have some truly bangin' tracks. My favorites are "SMS (Bangerz)", "Do My Thang", and "#GETITRIGHT".
I love all my Disney divas for their music, performing personalities and "after-Disney" antics.