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It’s 2017 and we’re still mentioning Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato in the same breath.
Today, the two queens of pop are releasing what will be, for each of them, their sixth studio albums. Cyrus’ new album, Younger Now, embraces her country roots and even features a duet with her godmother, Dolly Parton. Swoon!
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But today’s shared release date isn’t the only thing these stars have in common. Sure, Cyrus and Lovato’s musical styles, looks, and Instagram feeds are wildly different — but their careers have a common denominator: the Disney empire.
Post-Disney, the two have had skyrocketing, successful musical careers. Cyrus’ 2013 hit “Wrecking Ball” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and has nearly 300 million streams on Spotify. Lovato’s singles “Heart Attack” and “Skyscraper” both peaked at number 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
While Cyrus has had more overall hits to date, Lovato has a more consistent grip on the charts. Over the past few years, Cyrus has steered away from mainstream music, with her last album, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, showcasing an experimental sound that prompted Billboard to write, “No Hot 100 expectations should be placed upon any of these songs. This is a passion project, not a pop project.”
In contrast, Lovato’s previous album, Confident, had hits like “Cool for the Summer” and “Confident” make the charts, reaching the 11th and 21st spots respectively.
While Cyrus has stepped back into the game, getting radio airplay with her hit song “Malibu,” Lovato has showcased her killer vocals on new songs like “Tell Me You Love Me,” which has us giddy waiting to see how the artists will compare on the charts.
Even with their child stardom days over, both have beaten the odds and maintained successful careers. Even the eldest Jonas Brother, Kevin Jonas, couldn’t help but notice the strange coincidence of “Disney’s Holy Trinity” — Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez — all killing it in the music scene this year. Does Disney get a finder’s fee?
While Cyrus and Lovato might be alums of “Disney High,” the two were never attached at the hip, let’s-start-a-YouTube-channel-together BFFs. In fact, in their early Disney days, there was even some mild teen drama (we’re talking about the time Cyrus and her friend Mandy Jiroux poked fun at one of Lovato and Gomez’s videos).
But they both had to deal with the scrutiny of growing up in the spotlight, which at times brought them closer.
In 2010, when Cyrus was under the lens for the then-considered-controversial video for “Who Owns My Heart” (nothing compared to the foam finger), Lovato immediately came to her defense, saying, “She’s my best friend and I will defend her 100 percent for the rest of my life.”
Cyrus had already begun to move the needle by the time her Disney show ended, but it didn’t take her long to completely shatter her Disney persona at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.
Lovato told Katie Couric about the performance: “I think the world needs to get over the fact that she was Hannah Montana when she was 16.”
Lovato, on the other hand, has been open about her experiences with addiction and mental health issues, and checked into rehab in 2010. That prompted her to leave the Disney Channel show Sonny with a Chance and develop a more open and honest relationship with her fans.
It’s worth pointing out that neither of the singers’ difficulties growing up in the spotlight should come as a surprise. In fact, if you look closely at their earliest music, both of the stars’ future struggle to find themselves can be found foreshadowed in some of their lyrics:
Cyrus’ 2010 song “Robot” includes the lyrics, “Stop trying to live my life for me / I need to breathe / I’m not your robot.”
That’s not too far from Lovato’s 2008 single “La La Land,” which goes, “I won’t change anything in my life / I’m staying myself tonight.”
While other fellow Disney alums are less vocal on social media and stick to promotional tweets and Instagrams, Cyrus and Lovato don’t shy away from speaking their minds (and aren’t afraid to get into Twitter feuds or subtweet other stars).
The two are also outspoken about causes that they care about. Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder while getting treatment for her addictions, Lovato became an advocate for mental health awareness.
It’s now been 11 years since the first episode of Hannah Montana premiered, and this June, it will have been a decade since Camp Rock first hit our screens. Cyrus and Lovato will, no doubt, make a dent in the music scene with their new albums this year, just as they have over the past 10.
While Cyrus and Lovato may have spent most of their childhoods reading lines and lyrics written by other people, it seems they’ve managed to find their own, clear voices.