Hannah Montana was a cultural phenomenon and for good reason. It was a great kid sitcom paired with an ever-expanding soundtrack that was the music of a generation. I was a huge Hannah Montana fan, going as far as to lie to friends at school that I was going to go to Typhoon Lagoon for her next concert (one that never happened, of course). Everyone had nerve, nobody was perfect, and we all wanted the best of both worlds.
In the context of the show, all the songs were written by Robby Ray Stewart, Miley’s dad. It’s incredibly sweet that the family business was music and it became a way to remember Miley’s mom, but we must get real. Robby Ray Stewart was an awful songwriter. Like, the actual worst.
Remember that the whole basis of the show was that Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana were the same person, but kept both personas very separate so she could continue being a regular kid and a pop superstar simultaneously. Now, there were some problems with this (Her tour dates seemed to be at the same arena in Malibu every weeknight. I understand the idea of a residency, but that is ridiculous), but Robby Ray made the struggle worse than it needed to be.
If we look at the first songs released through the show, all the lyrics are giant arrows pointing to her alter-ego. They are screaming for TMZ to pick-up on her double personalities and post it everywhere to ruin her life. Does Robby Ray really have no other inspiration for his daughter’s songs than the secret she’s hiding from the world? Come on, dude.
The show’s theme song and her biggest hit, “Best of Both Worlds,” is basically a breakdown of secret from start to finish. “Yeah when you’re famous it can be kind of fun/it’s really you but no one ever discovers.” That is a giant tell. If I were to listen to that as an entertainment reporter, I would have a few follow-up questions. For example, why does Miley Stewart look so like Hannah Montana, just with different hair? Also, why do they talk the same? Finally, why does her father try to spoil her secret through every song he releases?
“Who Said” is a track that masks itself as an empowerment jam, but with lyrics like “I’m more than just your average girl,” there’s reason to believe she is hiding something. “Just Like You” is another instance of the lyrics yelling at the listening public to look for this secret she’s hiding. “I’m the girl you know/but I’m someone else too/If you only knew,” roughly translates to “I’m lying/This is a façade/I am a huge fake/Can ya handle it?!”
Add “The Other Side of Me” and you’ve got yourself an EP of deceit. Why would Robby Ray blatantly highlight his daughter’s fake personality?! I truly don’t understand. He can clearly write tracks not about the secret, like “I Got Nerve” and “Pumpin’ Up the Party,” so why resort to a possible ruining of her life? On top of that, Miley should have refused to sing these songs. She seems to have anxiety about getting caught, so why keep singing about the possibility? Was she forced? Miley, blink twice if you need help. All I know is we shouldn’t expect Robby Ray Stewart to enter the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame anytime soon…and I am unnecessarily angry about this.