It was the best of times… It was the worst of times…
The year was 2002 and Disney was NOT going to let its new crop of young talent go to waste after Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera grew out of the Mickey Mouse Club in the nineties and graduated into full-blown international pop superstars. Hilary Duff was the network’s biggest star at the time and her TV show “Lizzie McGuire” was getting the big-screen treatment in the summer of 2003. This is when Disney made the most important decision in our nation’s history by giving Hilary Duff a legitimate record deal and album! ‘Metamorphosis’ went on to go multi-platinum and make Hilary a huge pop star… and blah, blah, blah… You know how the rest of the story goes.
From Hilary Duff’s huge success, every network and production company with teen talent was hoping to recreate Hilary’s success. Suddenly every teen star was also moonlighting as a pop star! This was an era with some of the worst music ever.. But it gave some of our favorite teen-pop throwback girls of this millennium!
Now, Hilary Duff is the QUEEN of this class of pop tarts, but here are a few other memorable junior pop divas from Hilary’s reign in the mid 2000’s:
Better known as Sharpay Evans from the High School Musical franchise, Ashley Tisdale made some of the guiltiest pleasures in pop in the 2000’s! “Headstrong” debuted at #5 on Billboard’s Hot 200 albums chart!
Another girl from the High School Musical saga, Vanessa Hudgens had a bit of success from her two albums “V” and “Identified.” Her first album included the musica video for “Say OK” which was one of the first videos to hit 100 million views on YouTube!
Aly & AJ
Aly Michalka was starring in the hit Disney show “Phil of the Future” but had a bit more success in her singer-songrwiter band Aly & AJ alongside her sister AJ Michalka. Their song “Potential Break-Up Song” was a top 10 hit on the Hot 100 songs chart and also the first song to go platinum under Disney’s Hollywood Records label!
Lindsay Lohan needs no introduction. She is to Hilary Duff what Christina Aguilera is to Britney Spears. “Rumors” was a top 10 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 and her album “Speak” debuted at #4 on the Hot 200 albums chart!
Although she is best known as being Jessica Simpson‘s younger sister, Ashlee Simpson was a teen star dancing back-up for her older sister and starring in a recurring role on “7th Heaven.” She had a popular reality show that followed her as she recorded her debut album. Fun fact: Her first two albums both went platinum+ and also debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart!
Lana Del Rey hypnotizes her listeners again with “High By The Beach”
Choosing a single song for “Song of the Year” was the toughest category to do. So many songs this year were great. It seemed impossible to cut it down to one song. But after a lot of back and forth, I decided that Lana Del Rey’s song, “High By The Beach” is worthy of that trophy.
I’ve devoted most of the other categories to the most proper female pop artists. Lana Del Rey can’t necessarily be labeled a pop starlet by any means. But “High By The Beach” is possibly as mainstream pop as we will get from her. So after juggling a few songs, I chose the song from the one we most likely won’t see very often on any “pop songs” lists.
“High By The Beach” opens with a haunting melody that immediately changes the environment of your mindset. And when the light-trap beats are introduced in the chorus it catches you off guard and permanently commits you to the remainder of the song. Many songs are effortless and follow you as you continue living your life. But this song grabs your attention and transports you to the scene that it’s living in; controlling you. It’s rare that a song can do that. It’s familiar territory for Lana Del Rey, considering it’s kind of “her thing.” So that’s one reason that this song excels in a place other pop songs fail.
The music video for “High By The Beach” was equally tantalizing and captivating. The video is not obvious of its purpose when it begins. It follows Lana Del Rey through a beach house as she seems to be avoiding something. It ends up being a paparazzi taking pictures from a helicopter. This gave the video a scene with a wind effect that surely had Beyonce dialing every contact, in jealousy, to try and recreate later. And then with a fantasy finale, she grabs a huge sci-fi gun to shoot down the helicopter.
The song has the right amount of pretentiousness while still being a win for the girls of pop music. Lana Del Rey continues to mesmerize the music industry with her unique music and vocals. For that, I picked “High By The Beach” for The Pop Pyro’s “Song of the Year.”
Other Top-Picked Songs This Year:
In No Order:
Demi Lovato – “Cool For The Summer” Easily this summer’s anthem. Demi killed it.
Zedd ft. Selena Gomez – “I Want You To Know” Selena had a great second half of the year, but she had one of Spring’s best tracks.
JoJo – “Save My Soul” The only ballad on top of the list, and rightfully so. JoJo is one of the best balladeers of the girls in pop music.
Marina and the Diamonds – “Blue” The pre-chorus to this song, “give me love; give me dreams…” is the best of the year.
Rihanna – “Bitch Better Have My Money” If you don’t sing along to this song when it’s played, you’re a robot. Anthem.
Selena Gomez – “Good For You” Selena was just doing a lot of great things this year.
Selena Gomez has had a steady progression with her musical career. She solidified herself as a pop heavyweight after she released 2013’s “Come and Get It” (from her album ‘Stars Dance’) then gave it one of my favorite music videos of all time. ‘Revival’ proves that she is still a pop superstar but also an artistic risk-taker with her music.
Selena Gomez could have easily had a successful album by making the expected dance teen pop album that she had been boxed into with her previous albums. But she took a HUGE risk and made a mid-tempo album with breathy vocals and intimate tones. I go into further detail about the album and my reactions, after its first play, with my #QuickListen review that was posted here on The Pop Pyro earlier this year. Read my review: Click Here
Selena Gomez unraveled this album better than most pop stars can these days. Every single, performance and promotion for ‘Revival’ painted the perfect picture for what this album is. And upon listening there were no surprises except good music. “Good For You” was the perfect lead single. The song was extremely successful on the Billboard Hot 100 and has over 200 million streams on Spotify alone. The success continued with her second single “Same Old Love” also topping the charts. She is currently promoting her latest single “Hands to Myself” with performances at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball and Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She just released her sexiest video yet with its video as well.
‘Revival’ reveals an entirely new facet of Selena Gomez. It’s cohesive; it’s sensual; it’s insightful; and it’s just an all-around GOOD ALBUM. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and topped many critic’s end-of-year album lists. For all of these reasons, I picked ‘Revival’ as The Pop Pyro’s “Album of the Year.”
Other Top-Picked Albums This Year:
In No Order:
Hilary Duff’s – “Breathe In Breathe Out” One of the most all-encompassing and pure pop albums of the year. Standout tracks:“Confetti,” “My Kind,” and “One In A Million.”
Dumblonde’s – “dumblonde” My favorite debut of the year. This album is great from start to finish. Standout tracks: “dreamsicle,” “love blind,” and “you got me.”
Lana Del Rey’s – “Honeymoon” She released another flawless addition to her catalog. If you love Lana; you love this album. Standout tracks: “Music To Watch Boys To,” “Art Deco” and “Religion.”
Tamar Braxton-Herbert’s – “Calling All Lovers” It’s mostly an R&B album, but Tamar uses the album to prove the versatility she and her voice have. Standout tracks:“KING,” “Angels and Demons” and “Coming Home.”
When fans demand that a music video get its proper treatment, that must mean something.
I ran this by a few friends before posting and their unanimous reactions were, “Is this an April Fool’s joke?”
It’s not, and I’m completely serious, but hear me out… To me, a music video’s first job is to create the visual counterpart to a song. With that said, just like a musical playlist or album, I want my music VIDEOS to easily blend in succession of each other. Have you ever made a playlist of music videos and when a 6-minute video plays it completely breaks the mood and you’ve had to get up and fast forward the video three minutes to reach the performance segment of the videos. Yeah, I’m not entirely excited to live like that, okay? What I love about Hilary Duff’s“Sparks” video is that you can play it in between “Toxic” and “Womanizer” and all three videos smoothly play together.
My favorite thing about “Sparks” is that it is a visually appetizing video from start to finish. This video is a complete sugar-induced stomach ache of candy colors and visual geometrics. Hilary Duff looks the best she’s ever looked in a music video. Her video is completely pointless leaving out any need to follow a “story” or some kind of difficult imagery to take away from the song itself. It’s the direct companion piece for the music that adds the visual (delightfully over-) stimulation to the greatness that is “Sparks.”
Another fascinating thing about this video, and probably the first thought my friends had when they asked if this was a joke, is that this video was actually immediately panned by everyone. Fans complained and expressed their hatred of its original cut that included scenes of Hilary Duff going on Tinder dates. I hated it too. So fans DEMANDED the Tinder scenes be removed to reveal the full-potential and perfection that lied behind those terrible pedestrian clips of her at the bowling alley. To me, if her performance shots were just as bland as the tinder clips, the video would never had fans rallying for the tinder-less version. It has to take a lot of humility in admitting that the fans, for once, have a song’s best interest at heart. Removing the Tinder clips to reveal a truly passively/effortlessly-overstimulating (can that be a thing?) music video proves that they really don’t need all the overly ambitious “distractions” that weighs them down. Thank you for listening to the fans, Hilary Duff!!!
Just like any other huge Hilary Duff fan, I loved her beachy and chill singles (“Chasing the Sun” and “All About You”) from 2014 that had her singing scaled-back tunes. But Hilary is a bonafide pop superstar, and veteran at this point. Fans have confidence that she can produce pop-perfect singles. Fast forward to this year and she reemerges with an exciting dance pop song, “Sparks.” The song is amazing! And when she posted a wig-snatching and colorful 10-second clip of the (tinder-less) video on her Facebook leading up to its premiere, fans (and myself) were expecting greatness when the song premiered. We’ve gotta follow our first-gut feeling and for “Sparks” (even though it was clouded with criticism upon release) it was that this video is absolutely amazing, stunning and fun in all aspects. The video is GREAT; Perfect in my opinion.
For it being fantastically aimless and ambitiously colorful and sparkly, I picked Hilary Duff’s “Sparks” as The Pop Pyro’s “Music Video of the Year.”
Other Top-Picked Music Videos This Year:
In No Order:
Demi Lovato’s – “Cool For the Summer” This is Demi’s best video, period. Probably the only contender to replace “Sparks” as my favorite video this year.
Ariana Grande’s – “Focus” She really worked that high-kick and lavender hair. When she released this video it was one of the more exciting nights this year.
MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS’ – “Froot” This song is unique in itself and the noir-style it’s filmed in created a fantasy for me that I really appreciated while watching. And can we all just applaud all of her glamour-shots?
Madonna’s – “Ghosttown” This is probably the best cinematic-style music video out this year. It helps that this song is one of the most underrated songs of the year. Madonna’s video is exceptional.
I’m really excited to share my top picks from the material our POP DIVAS have given us this year in music!
Throughout these remaining days in 2015 I will be releasing TWO categories a day. On New Year’s Eve I will have the album/song of the year plus crown the “Diva of the Year.”
Over the past six months I’ve been building this page, I can now see where the page is and where it’s going. I’ve realized that I want to celebrate all the women in pop music that aren’t afraid to keep pop music interesting and colorful. You know, for us kids that were raised in the early 00’s era. It was a battle zone of pop divas trying to outdo one another by amazing videos and performances. I’m talking about the Britneys, Christinas and P!nks; even the Katys and Gagas… a time where pop music was about being beautiful, irreverent and THE FULL PACKAGE. So my picks this year and the content on this page will forever reflect that.
If you’re a fan of the “Britney”-types; the girls that aren’t afraid to sell a little sex appeal and have a dance break in the middle of a ballad, Then The Pop Pyro is the place for you.
The Pop Pyro is:
The Pop Pyro was created and is run by myself. If we haven’t been introduced yet, I’m Jeremy Miles. I invite anyone from this page to follow my posts on my personal account as well. I’m a huge fan of Britney Spears and all of her peers. I get a little critical of some of her pop rivals, but in the end, I support all of the women in pop music that are similar to her.
And with nearly 4,500 likes here on Facebook, I think this is also an appropriate time to thank you guys AGAIN about how grateful I am of your comments, likes, shares and compliments on my posts and original content. The page has had videos with over 130 thousand views and reaches of over 2.5 million timelines! (Same with memes that have gone viral.)
Before I start releasing the “of the year” categories tomorrow, Spotify has a great review of your personal listening habits and I’d like to share mine with you. And so I can get to know you guys better, put your results in the comment section or copy the text below and change the answers to fit as best as you can.
THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN. I CAN’T WAIT TO CONTINUE THE PAGE IN 2016.