Almost exactly a year ago on this site, my esteemed Popdose colleague Dw. Dunphy closed a column by asking, â€œWhat has modernity offered you? Hannah Montana?â€ He was concluding a well-considered paean to vinyl-record listening, but never mind the context â€“ Hannah/Miley has been taking it on the chin from grown-up critics quite a bit lately, even as her bank account swells and her seemingly never-ending Sweet Sixteen party continues unabated (at least on Disney Channel). Many of the complaints adopt a common theme â€“ namely, that Miley/Hannahâ€™s music doesnâ€™t hold a candle to what we listened to when we were kids, and may very well be melting our poor childrenâ€™s minds.
The music that has emerged from both sides of the Hannah/Miley Schizophrenopalooza is hardly Lennon/McCartney â€“ but then, neither were â€œYummy Yummy Yummyâ€ or Leif Garrett or New Kids on the Block or Nâ€™Sync. Yes, the Hannah Montana TV/music/film/ merchandise phenomenon is perhaps the most perfect representation yet of media-conglomerate synergy â€“ but, really, so what? More to the point, should the final verdict on the quality of what has emerged from this mighty commercial enterprise really be left to grumpy old music critics like myself, who can barely be bothered to give a cursory listen to Mileyâ€™s latest in between attempts to wrap our heads around the latest Radiohead opus?
As a public service for those unfortunate readers who donâ€™t have a member of Miley/Hannahâ€™s demographic bouncing around the house, Iâ€™ve decided to turn my first column of 2009 over to my daughter Catie and her best friend, our next-door neighbor Bridget. Theyâ€™re both 7 years old, and already steeped in the magic and the mythology of Miley. (Editorâ€™s note: For the purposes of this article, all instances of the word â€œawesomeâ€ should be read in a high-pitched, sing-songy, little-girl tone â€“ as opposed to, say, the voice of a WWE ringside announcer.) Without further adoâ€¦
Jon: Hi, girls!
Bridget: Hi, Popdose!
Catie: Yeah. Hi.
Jon: Do you remember why weâ€™re doing this interview?
Catie: Yeah. Because weâ€™re the biggest fans of Hannah Montana that were ever made.
Bridget: Sheâ€™s, like, awesome.
Jon: I dunno â€¦ Hannah doesnâ€™t seem so awesome to me.
Bridget: Quiet, mister!
Catie: She is, too! She is so awesome.
Bridget: Because sheâ€™s so cool, of course.
Catie: She inspirates little kids to be what they want to be when they grow up.
Jon: Yeah? And what do you want to be when you grow up?
Bridget: I want to be a singer like Hannah Montana! And an actress. Iâ€™m really good, you know.
(She proceeds to demonstrate, caterwauling a rendition of â€œLifeâ€™s What You Make Itâ€ while flailing around the room.)
Catie: That wasnâ€™t very good at all. (a slap-fight ensues)
Jon: And Catie? What is it you want to be this week?
Catie: I wanna sing to my students when Iâ€™m a teacherâ€”
Bridget: What are you gonna sing?
Catie: Um â€¦ the A-B-Câ€™s, of course! (a rendition commences)
Bridget: Wait! If you want to be like Miley, you have to sing a version that rocks! (the two attempt a rockinâ€™ A-B-Câ€™s)
Jon: Thanks, thatâ€™ll be enough of that. Catie, I thought you wanted to be an animal doctor.
Catie: Well, then Iâ€™m going to sing to the animals I save. Yeah, and Iâ€™ll be a world teacher star.
Bridget: Like you could ever do all those jobs at once.
Jon: Bridget, why do you want to be a rock star?
Bridget: It would be a great opportunity to sing in front of people you donâ€™t know.
Catie: Um, daddy — I want to join the chorus at school so I can sing. Can I?
Bridget: Yeah. I want to do that, too.
Catie: I want to sing at the Civic Center.
Bridget: Yeah, that would be cool. Singing in chorus will help us become like Miley, because people will see us and weâ€™ll become stars!
Catie: I just want to sing in front of tiny people, like kids who need to be teached.
Jon: So, you know, I hear the music when you guys are playing it sometimes, and I havenâ€™t been able to figure it out â€“ whatâ€™s the difference between when Hannah sings and when Miley sings?
Bridget: They have different voices.
Catie: No, they donâ€™t!
Bridget: Yeah â€” I read that she said that somewhere.
Catie: They have different hair on, when they sing.
Jon: Oh, right. Why does Miley have to pretend sheâ€™s Hannah in order to be a rock star?
Bridget: Well, duh! Everybody would want to be around her, and sheâ€™d get exhausted from everyone following her around.
Catie: Yeah, and she would have to, like, talk on TV when sheâ€™s at school. That would be stupid.
Jon: So what do you imagine Mileyâ€™s life is like?
Bridget: Itâ€™s, like, a nice life in Tennessee. She has a nice family —
Catie: Billy Ray Cyrus!
Bridget: (sings) “I want my mommy back!”
Jon: Whatâ€™s that?
Bridget: Some song he sings.
Catie: Wait â€“ is it â€œmommyâ€ or â€œmoneyâ€? (Editorâ€™s note: Itâ€™s â€œmullet.â€)
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Jon: How do you think Miley got her show, and got to be a star?
Catie: By being awesome!
Bridget: I think she went on the computer and typed, â€œI wanna be famous.â€
Catie: No! She auditioned, and she did it really well. I bet I would get a job on Disney Channel if I went for an audition.
Bridget: Nuh-uh. Not if I go with you.
Jon: OK. What else do we know about Miley?
Bridget: I know her favorite color is purple, because Iâ€™m, like, smart.
Catie: She got a new puppy for her birthday, and she was bragging about it.
Bridget: Let me talk! Her sisterâ€™s like, â€œIâ€™m rich because my sisterâ€™s a pop star.â€
Catie: Thatâ€™s not true!
Bridget: Miley used to be Nick Jonasâ€™ girlfriend. And then they broke up.
Catie: It was, like, so tragic!
Bridget: And they kissed on the cheek.
Jon: Huh. Well, how long do you think Miley can stay on TV?
Catie: â€™Til she is 100.
Bridget: I think â€™til sheâ€™s about 26 â€” then sheâ€™s going to retire from the show.
Catie: That is not true! You could be on Disney Channel â€™til youâ€™re about 85. They need some old people on the show. (she starts singing as an old person) â€œIf we were a movie, youâ€™d be the right guy, and Iâ€™d be the best friendâ€¦â€
Bridget: My grandma doesnâ€™t talk like that, and sheâ€™s gonna turn 84.
Jon: OK, one more question. Catie, how cool is your dad because he interviewed Mileyâ€™s background singer?
Catie: Youâ€™re pretty cool.
Catie: Youâ€™re the coolest da-da in the universe.
Bridget: Youâ€™re not very cool at all.
Catie: Iâ€™d rather be the backup singer, actually, because you donâ€™t really have to memorize anything.
Jon: That is not true! You have to know all the â€“
Catie: Can we be done now?
Bridget: Wanna go watch Hannah?
Catie: Nah. Letâ€™s go on the computer.
Bridget: Bye, Popdose!
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