Miley sits in tween-queen throne

Fans can relate to the singer-actress, and that's refreshing

October 25, 2007|By Jon Bream | Jon Bream,McClatchy-Tribune

We've soured on Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Ashlee Simpson never recovered from lip-synching on Saturday Night Live. And then there's Hilary Duff, who dated a pierced, tattooed punk-rocker and changed her squeaky-clean image.

Miley Cyrus arrived at the right time. With her Hannah Montana series on the Disney Channel, the 14-year-old singer-actress quickly became a role model for girls ages 6 to 14. The shows on her current tour instantly sold out.

Miley has become the best tween queen since Tiffany was seducing mall rats in the late 1980s. Here's why:

She looks and acts her age. She'll be 15 next month. Her hair, makeup and outfits suggest that she isn't trying to grow up too soon. Moms and dads really appreciate that.

She's a good friend. OK, it's just a character she plays on TV. So credit the writers. But on Hannah Montana, Miley Stewart is a terrific friend to Lily - the kind of pal we all want our kids to have.

She's a goody-goody with a streak of mischief. Little Miss Miley Sunshine sometimes plots to thwart Amber and Ashley, her two obnoxious Valley Girl classmates, but, in the end, she always apologizes. As she sings on Hannah Montana 2, "Nobody's perfect. I mess up sometimes."

She is developing a separate singing persona from her TV character. Hence, she has the "best of both worlds," which is the theme song of her TV series and the name of her current tour. Hannah does bubble gum-y pop with platitudes. Miley, who uses a deeper, grittier voice, sings teen pop, a flavor more advanced beyond bubble gum.

She doesn't seem manufactured. Miley Stewart, her character on Hannah, is believable and relatable - even if the story line (about an everyday teen who secretly moonlights as a bewigged, blond teen pop star) is full of fantasy.

She can sing. Better than her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. I expect she won't be lip-synching during her shows like Spears.

She can write songs. She co-wrote eight of the tunes on Meet Miley Cyrus with some Hollywood pros - but not the same song doctors (Kara DioGuardi, Robbie Nevil) who craft the Hannah tunes.

She's not tying her musical career to covers of oldies. Smart move. Nearly every teen idol makes the fateful mistake of remaking songs recognized by her/his parents' generation.

Her TV godmother, Dolly Parton, will keep her in line. Despite her exaggerated image, Parton is one of the most focused and shrewdest artists in the music business. Even though Miley is not her real-life goddaughter, Parton is the kind of person who won't let her precious little pal make any big missteps in real life.

She started as an opening act, not an arena headliner. She got her feet wet last year opening for the Cheetah Girls, so with luck she won't freak out when she headlines "The Best of Both Worlds Tour."

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