10 Teen Starlets Who Couldn’t Quite Make The Transition To Adult Pop Diva
With Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez duking it out on the charts, and Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande quietly plotting their next moves, you would be forgiven for thinking the leap from teen starlet to adult pop diva is fairly simple. The formula for success seems to go a little something like this: land a role in a Disney or Nickelodeon sitcom, record a manufactured (but generally flawless) pop album and then thoroughly reinvent yourself when you’ve reached the appropriate age.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always pan out like that. The annals of music history are littered with teen sensations that couldn’t quite connect in the first place, or simply outgrew their audience. The point of this post isn’t to name and shame, but rather to celebrate these magical divas. More often that not they delivered beloved pop treasures before finding success in other fields. Furthermore, it’s never too late for a comeback. I would buy new music from all ten of these acts!
1. Victoria Justice
Victoria Justice was supposed to be the break-out star of Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious. She played the titular character, sang lead on the show’s three massively successful soundtrack albums and worked with A-List producers like Shellback, Savan Kotecha and Toby Gad. But then, co-star Ariana Grande dropped “The Way” and Vicky faded from the musical spotlight.
2. Emily Osment
Emily Osment is best known for playing Miley’s friend Lily Truscott in Hannah Montana, but she will always be the pop icon behind legendary Britney Spears rip-off “Let’s Be Friends” to me. Her debut album Fight Or Flight didn’t really take off (pun intended), which doesn’t make it any less enjoyable as a companion piece to Circus. Bring on that sophomore LP!
Biggest hit: “Let’s Be Friends” (#24 in Japan)
Best song: “Let’s Be Friends”
3. Vanessa Hudgens
After rocketing to fame as the female lead in Disney’s High School Musical movies, and landing several hits from the mega-successful soundtracks, Vanessa Hudgens seemed like a sure bet for musical stardom. Her debut LP V did well enough to warrant a follow-up (largely produced by Dr. Luke), but things went a little pear-shaped when “Sneakernight” bombed and nude photos tarnished her girl-next-door image. (How quickly things change). The diva recently dabbled in electro-pop with girl group YLA, so new music isn’t entirely out of the question.
4. Bridgit Mendler
Brigit Mendler came closer than most to leveraging her stardom (courtesy of Lemonade Mouth) into a sustainable pop career when she landed a well-deserved hit with “Ready Or Not.” Her debut LP Hello My Name Is… even cracked the top 30, but it couldn’t produce another hit and the 22-year-old is now conspicuously absent from Disney’s roster. Something tells me it’s time for the “Hurricane” queen to return with an edgy, independently released album!
Biggest hit: “Ready Or Not” (#49 on the Billboard Hot 100)
Best song: “Ready Or Not”
5. Cheetah Girls
The Cheetah Girls were a genuine phenomenon with three Disney movies, multiple albums and a classic seasonal LP called Cheetah-licious Christmas. They tried their hand at an edgier sound on 2007 opus TCG, but it didn’t quite click and the divas went their separate ways. Raven-Symoné, Kiely Williams, Sabrina Bryan and Adrienne Bailon all went on to release solo material without much success. Time for a reunion?
6. Ashley Tisdale
After riding the High School Musical roller coaster, Ashley Tisdale got off to a flying start as a pop star. Debut LP Headstrong landed at number five on the Billboard 200 and delivered memorable hits “Be Good To Me” and “He Said She Said.” Unfortunately, she couldn’t repeat that success with sophomore set Guilty Pleasure — despite the album living up to its title. The 30-year-old decided to focus on acting instead, but did release a random single in 2013 called “You’re Always Here.”
7. Aly & A.J.
In many ways Aly & A.J. ushered in the pop/rock that would become Disney’s mid-’00s signature sound with 2005 LP Into The Rush. The sisters followed that up with another hit album, “Potential Breakup Song”-spawning Insomniatic, but then fell off the radar until resurfacing as 78violet in 2013. They won a lot of new fans with the dreamy folk-pop of “Hothouse” and are reportedly working on a new album.
Biggest hit: “Potential Breakup Song” (#17 on the Billboard Hot 100)
Best song: “Potential Breakup Song”
8. Miranda Cosgrove
What happened to the iCarly pop princess? One minute she is teen-pop’s reigning ‘it’ girl, the next she’s best known for appearing in Michael Jackson memes. It’s a confounding turn of events considering the 22-year-old came out swinging with top 10 album Sparks Fly and then followed it up with an excellent EP boasting contributions from Max Martin, Shellback and Greg Kurstin. #JusticeForMiranda.
9. Bella Thorne
Bella Thorne nipped her own music career in the bud before it even started. The Shake It Up! starlet scrapped her debut LP because she didn’t want to release “auto-tuned bad music.” Instead, she dropped an EP of “auto-tuned bad music” called Jersey. While the five-song set hid a couple of guilty pleasures (the Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX co-writes), you can’t help but think she should stick with acting.
10. Jeanette McCurdy
Jeanette McCurdy played Miranda Cosgrove’s sidekick Sam Puckett on iCarly and its spin-off Sam & Cat. Instead of leveraging her fame into a pop career, which is the usual route for multi-talented teenagers, the 23-year-old headed to Nashville and recorded a country album. It performed reasonably well on the country chart, but the self-titled followed up bombed and she now stars on Sci-Fi drama Between.