Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” might be the song even your grandmother knows by heart, but Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Demi Lovato have all had a major role in helping pop dominating the news cycle this summer. These former Disney starlets were each formiddable competition in our Battle of the Summer Jams, but their individual efforts have gone beyond studio time and album promotion as each young woman is carving her own path in this crazy universe of ours.
From chart position to VMA backlash, which singer-actress-profession-to-be-named-later should emerge from August victorious, poised to have an even bigger fall? Let’s take a look.
Miley Cyrus: Twerk Miley, Miley Twerk
You know it, I know it, we all know it: years from now summer 2013 will be defined by the word “twerk,” thanks largely to Miley’s decision to show off her skills whenever possible. First she did it in concert, then came the “Wop” video, the hazy house party in “We Can’t Stop,” Jay Z’s Magna Carta shout-out, the VMAs… Much has been said about Sunday night’s performance–including Miley’s alleged appropriation of black culture–which angered many watching (even the creator of the foam finger!). Discussions like these, especially about subjects like race and gender, are healthy, and as long as Miley is being mentioned on Today, her position within the zeitgeist remains safe. Then again, too much unpredictable/borderline unsavory behavior and she becomes a grating fad. But what does Miley think about all of this?
Mixing pop with politics can be dicey, but for a 20-year-old female, the decision to remain silent on a subject so many others believe themselves to be authorities on seems like a disservice to her younger fans. “Blurred Lines” sparked outrage because of its racy video filled with naked women, yet Miley dancing (with clothes on) is repugnant and immoral. Owning her sexuality in a way that’s less of a parody will help to fill in the missing pieces of the personality she’s forged since cutting all her hair off and cozying up to hip-hop up-and-comers. Coy tweets and that tongue won’t suffice for much longer, as the older she gets, the more she’ll have to take responsibility for her actions.
Miley’s fourth album, Bangerz, is out October 8 (featuring at least one lovelorn ballad, “Wrecking Ball”) and her partnership with man-who-can-do-know-wrong Mike WiLL Made It looks to continue with the upcoming “23.” But mostly I want to know what fiance Liam Hemsworth thinks about all of this.
Selena Gomez: Commercial Success And More Steps Towards Serious Acting
After playing slightly against type (she was still the “good girl” in a group of bikini-clad robbers) in this spring’s Spring Breakers, Selena went back to music, dropping The Scene and releasing her most successful album to date. Yes, lead single “Come & Get It” created some controversy when Selena opted to perform the song at the MTV Movie Awards wearing a bindi, but by the time her fourth album, Stars Dance, was released in July, all was forgiven. Stars Dance scored Selena her very first No. 1 album, and “Come & Get It” was showered in love at the MTV Video Music Awards, taking home Best Pop Video.
If Miley puts it all out there, Selena still plays it safe, hovering the line between sexy dream girl and adorable girl next door with harmless pop that does the trick–and works within her vocal constraints–but doesn’t necessarily reinvent the genre. Charming interviews reveal her abundant maturity, and the diversity of her upcoming projects shows how much faith Hollywood is beginning to have in her mass appeal. Did we mention now seems about as good a time as ever to be distancing herself from Justin Bieber? Next she can be seen in Getaway alongside Ethan Hawke, a costar who may or may not have tutored her in Gen X culture. Marketing yourself to all age groups, are we? Well done.
Demi Lovato: TV’s A-Callin’
Released in May, Demi’s self-titled fourth album puts the drama and personal revelations that helped Unbroken connect with so many fans aside, in exchange for punchy pop jams like “Made In The USA” that show off her larger than life pipes. Demi debuted at No. 3 on the charts, marking her best opening week to date, and lead single, “Heart Attack” has gone platinum. Of the three transitioning teen queens, Demi’s voice is the strongest; even if her image changes ten more times while she navigates her place in pop music cafeteria, she’ll always have the skill set to back her up.
When Demi wasn’t promoting her music, she was making moves: she just booked a big Glee role as the love interest of Santana (Naya Rivera), which should prove whether we like her on a fictional television show or solely when she’s bickering with Simon Cowell. She’ll be back at the latter soon enough as The X Factor returns on September 11, with Demi playing the veteran role to newbies Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio. All in all, be prepared for a lot of Demi come fall.
Ah yes, but have you seen who she’s been spending her time with these days?!
Be careful, Demi (and take notes from the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson, and Mandy Moore): Wilmer Valderrama is kryptonite to any and all female pop stars.
Tuner Says: While each former Disney starlet moved leaps and bounds in terms of shedding her previously G-rated image, only one has combined commercial success and omnipresence without mixing in (a major) controversy. Congratulations, Selena! You’ve won this round.
But what do you think?
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]