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Hannah Montana 3
Artist: Various 
(Walt Disney)
Disney Channel Playlist 
Artist: Various Artists 
(Walt Disney)
There may be other 'tween-centric stations on your cable menu, but Nickelodeon, Noggin, et al might not have ever existed were it not for the ruler of that fiberoptic realm, the Disney Channel. It's been a while now that this hamlet in The Empire Walt Built has hired Christian-identified kids to perpetuate its brand and those junior saints now have musical talent that should keep company bean counters smiling over the profits they generate.

The queen among those revenue generators remains Miley Cyrus. But the gal's changing up her game on the soundtrack to what looks to be the final season of the show that brought her to the limelight, Hanna Montanna. And even if it's technically a various artists collection, it's just barely.

It was once easier to figure Cyrus out vis a vis her TV character when it came to their music. Her songs from the show "by" Montana were more juvenile, seeing as they comported with the show's high schooler-by-day/rock star-by night conceit. Under her own name, Cyrus has assayed superior material that figures among the better kid-pop of the decade. 

Maybe because the show now more closely mirrors its star's life (don't ask me; I just keep up with the music), that ratio has become less predictable. That trend began with the Hannah MT movie soundtrack last spring, but, perhaps only coincidentally, it sounds as if she's sometimes commenting on her Christianity as it intersects with her celebrity (and the pitfalls she's made through it).

Since they are more reflective and less bubbly than the six songs from the album already getting play on-you guessed it-Radio Disney at press time, good money would say they're not about to receive that kind of rotation there, either. But mid-to-down tempo numbers "Mixed Up, "Just a Girl" and especially the dramatic  "Don't Want To Be Torn'" offer what sounds like mea culpas and admission that fame doesn't always change life positively. "Supergirl," sounding like a hybrid of previous Cyrus (not Montana) hits "See You Again" and "Fly on the Wall," reverses a previous soundtrack number's charge that buying a shopping mall worth of shoes provides happiness. Until and if La Miley broaches CCM waters (I'd guess  she'd do so more swimmingly than her dad/HMT co-star, Billy Ray Cyrus, has), these may be the numbers to best touch upon her faith in the Jesus whom she says she does it all for (including that saucy Elle photo spread?;hmmm...). Even if Montana plays the mouthpiece for the tunes. 

She still makes the most of less weighty material, too. It's likely what will get her over with the parents and grand'rents of her prime fanbase, too. She sound to be channeling Avril Lavigne and Shania Twain in the same body as the lead for an ealy '60s girl group, there's "He Could Be The One" And if there's a better middle school dance smash this fall beside her duet with American Idol runner-up David Archuletta on "I Wanna Know You," it will likely come from either partner's next longplayer. And she have contributed any more to the cannon of country line dance music than the movie soundtrack's "Hoedown Throwdown," but she bests that with the more rhythmically invigorating, if equally inane "Ice Cream Freeze (Let's Chill)." 

Her nigh central place in the Disneyverse assures Cyrus a place on the Disney Channel Playlist compilation, representing here with "Let's Get Crazy." She's mined '70s glam rock more energetically ("It's All Right Here" also from the HM season 3 soundtrack, for instance), but she'll likely do OK by it in concert. And she's not alone in her faith here, either. Cyrus' Montanna co-star Emily Osment and High School Musical graduate Corbin Bleu both contributed vocals to the Word of Promise Next Generation audio Bible. Respectively, they contribute the dippy self-encouragement ditty "Hero In Me" and smoothed out the smoothed out techno of ""Run It Back Again," each from DisChan original movies without enough original music to merit their own soundtrack sets.

Another such recent movie pulls together Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, the diva-ettes being groomed to take over from Cyrus once she moves on to possibly less consistently G-rated pastures. "One and the Same" finds them dueting respectably enough, though they get in their licks individually, too. Lovato's Everygirl tomboy persona shines from the theme song to her current series, Sonny With A Chance, "So Far So Great," but her pairing with The Jonas Brothers for their Camp Rock collaboration, "This Is Me." Gomez belies the occultic nature of her DisChan series, Wizards of Waverly Place on "Everything Is Not What It Seems."  

The Jonas also make the grade with the theme to their eponymous series, "Live To Party" (first heard on the soundtrack to their concert movie; here it here sans applause), though that''s still not not something godly guys should likely be promoting, however chaste the shindig. The JoBros aren't the only hunks in the Disney stable, either. Mitchel Musso offers to the Jonases' fans what Lovato has for Cyrus' admirers:a less hyped, still worthwhile second stringer. He duets with perky blonde Tiffany Thornton on another movie track;and just as his solo album's "In Crowd" wasn't a Dobie Gray remake, neither is "The Girl Can't Help It" from that Lovato-Gomez picture Little Richard redux (nor moving as Musso's "Crowd"). He's also the only dude to have a solo track on that Montana soundtrack ("Let's Make Ths Last 4ever"). 

That leaves the token white friend on Everybody Hates Chris, Vincent Martella. In his voice from the only cartoon series here, Phineas and Ferb, he makes like a slick '50s novelty ditty for "Gitchee Gitchee Goo." That leaves numbers from the first two High Scoool Musicals, a  remix from Camp Rock's Jordan Francis and something from the last Cheetah Girls flick.

For as much Disney dominates its tween market, the company could go further in packaging its wares in a bit more aesthetically. Apart from the can't-help-but-be-cute shots of Cyrus in Montana mode, 3's booklet has a slightly haphazard feel. The less said about the pinkish hue bleeding through Playlist tri-panel insert, the better. Dock a quarter tock from the ratings below for my the deductions for the graphics.

Jamie Rake



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