Thursday, April 05, 2012

HEAR THIS: Bella Thorne & Zendaya 'Shake It Up' + A Mini Disney Playlist

I'm not sure how many pop music critics would be totally willing to admit to this but I have a guilty pleasure addiction, folks -- and the recurring theme that links these tunes is often the (Diabolical) Disney Channel.

It started off innocent enough with the positive reinforcement of *NSYNC & Britney Spears' then fledling pop careers, and later with the launching of  Hilary Duff (With Love is proof positive Hil's got the goods), which gave way to the High School Musical franchise (again, guilty) and then along came Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers and my fate was cemented (and in college, no less).

Since Miley Cyrus' & JB's heyday of plastering their mug over literally every Disney "commericial break" (read: insider plug for more Disney media blitz), The Mouse House has broken two more serious contenders into the pop music scene by way of Selena Gomez (& her mysterious "Scene") and Demi Lovato.

Now that all of the aforementioned have left the compound, Disney has yet to truly provide their next "big" hit with the kid set (that very well could translate to mainstream recognition), but all directions are pointing toward Shake It Up, a show centered around two teenage girls (Bella Thorne, left, and the monomyous Zendaya, right in the above soundtrack album cover) as backup dancers on a local dance show while maintaining "normal lives" as schoolgirls (and also features former Camp Rock-er and current Dancing With the Stars competitor Roshon Fegan. It's one part Hannah Montana, one part Sonny With a Chance, one part High School Musical -- so basically, how could it not be a hit? The show is currently in its second season, and recently dropped its second soundtrack.

Here is where I come in. I'll admit I've never made it through an entire episode of Shake It Up, but who am I to judge -- as it's clearly not aimed at someone in my demographic (let's call it twentysomethings). But as a pop music enthusiast, I found my ears officially turned on to this burgeoning new source of teen pop thanks to a little gem called "TTYLXOX."

"TTYLXOX" (say that three times fast -- you can't, I've tried) is the official "first single" by one of Shake It Up's leading ladies -- the redheaded Bella Thorne. The song is the second soundtrack's third official single, and recently notched itself into the Hot 100 (in the lower echeleons). Thorne is just 14 years old (born in 1997 -- dude, I vividly REMEMBER 1997! Spice Girls! Sleep Overs! Elementary School Innocence!...I digress...). For those of you who don't recall, while 14 does seem shockingly young (uh, because it is), it is the exact same age when Miley Cyrus' star began to rise via the very same Disney-fied camp path to stardom.

The song basically sounds like a Valley Girl version of  the Ting Ting's "Shut Up and Let Me Go", complete with vaguely vapid lyrics chock full of the text message lingo so popular with the kiddos these days (and many my own age, unfortunately), including:
"Be Be Be my BFF
'Cuz IDK what's coming next
And I'll be LMHO with the rest

Ahh yes, LMHO -- as in laughing my head off. Oh Disney, I sincerely can't complain with how squeaky clean you persist to be. I really hope 14 year olds are using this term (instead of the more obvious LMAO -- laughing my ASS off). Seeing as I'm no longer in my early teenage years, I'll have to take your word for it. All JK-ing aside, Disney continues to amaze me with its supreme ability to appeal with the young demographic in a perfect snapshot of the times with coming off overzealous. This song is believable material for a 14 year-old vocalist, and yet contains a stomping back beat so that Bella's fans and potentially their babysitters/older sisters/Moms can also come to the party.

"TTYLOXOX" (Talk To You Later, XOX -- which I will now commence to use at the end of every text conversation) is actually a totally jammable guilty pleasure. Part of the reason why it's so endearing is partially its catchy, chant-worthy ridiculousness ("I'm a better me when you're here next to me/JK, can't tell, we're ROTFL" and partially in Bella's polished, jaunty delivery. For some reason, homegirl can pull off text message non-verbage and make it sound like a radio-ready corker.

But the Shake It Up party doesn't stop there, friends. The show's other lead, Zendaya (not to be confused with Sanjaya...::shudders::), also has a stomping single to her credit, via the glittery, dreamy, super catchy dance ballad "Something to Dance For", which has also popped up on a Billboard Chart -- via the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. It appears that Zendaya is being broadcast as more of the vocal performer of the two, but it's too early to tell whether Disney wants to market who as the "next" Selena or Demi.

"A dream like this not something wish you for
A dream like this not something you ask for
When it's a gift worth taking a chance for
Then this is something you dance for"

I told you Disney was diabolical. Tell me that's not a great hook. Go on. I'm waiting.

In terms of material, I feel like Zendaya come out just ahead, while "TTYLXOX" has much more instantaneous appeal. Either way, I unabashedly adore both. While Bella appears to be just testing out the waters, Zendaya already has a few cuts established to her name, including soundtrack appearances and a stellar urban-twinged jam Willow Smith would be jealous of called "Swag It Out" that is credited to Zendaya minus the Disney taggage.

You're welcome, lovlies.


~Selena Gomez, "Shake It Up"

Prior to signing off the Mickey Ship, Selena contributed this electro stomper (sans "Scene" it seems) which serves as Shake It Up's theme song. Go on. Take it up a notch.

~Chris Trousdale, "Not Too Young"
Almost ten years after the (actual) boy band Dream Street fizzled out (and Jesse McCartney became releveant as a solo singer/comptent pop songwriter...see "Bleeding Love"), my fave member finally rears his solo head with this 90's euro-dancey cut. Trousdale guest appeared on the show as a Justin Bieber-esque popstar (his character was called Justin Starr. No, really. It was. Oh Disney, so creative...).

~BLUSH, "Up Up & Away"
The Asian all-star electro girl group which have scored not one but two Billboard Dance hits headline the second soundtrack with with one perfect for the club audience they've already won over. I seriously couldn't love these chicks more. Oh, and it was written/produced by TWIN, who brought us Tiffany Affair's "Over It", Play's "11 Out of 10", Ashley Tisdale's "Be Good To Me", the Cheetah Girls "Cheetah Love" and VFactory's "Love Struck." I repeat -- VFactory's "Love Struck."

~China Anne McClain, "Calling All the Monsters"

While not associated with Shake It Up persay, China Anne McClain is actually the lead actress for a different Disney comedy show called "A.N.T. Farm", and is also in a girl group called The McClain Sisters with her actual sisters with a debut bow set for Hollywood Records later this year. "Monsters" is also a TWIN gem and has seen an obscene amount of hits on my Spotify. Lady Gaga would be proud.

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