By Zessa Ghaisani |

People who were born in the 90s must’ve experienced the time when Disney pop stars ruled the world. Yes, as a kid who was born in the 90s and spent my teenager life in the 00s, I have experienced that era, an era where I could see and hear their names, their movies, and their series everywhere.

Disney, best known as an entertainment giant, provides all kinds of entertainment for families (mostly), from TV shows, musics, to movies. Not to mention that some of the biggest pop stars of the 00s all started from appearing on a show on Disney Channel. Name it, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Jesse McCartney, Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, and many others. There was a time that every kid in the world wanted to be a Disney star.

Starting from Disney Channel Original Series or Movies, to the soundtracks (which would be produced under Disney’s subsidiary, Hollywood Records), Disney’s works later on broadened to other fields. Celebrities coming from a Disney background were massively popular in the early 2000s to the beginning of 2010s. Ask yourself, or your friends, who doesn’t know High School Musical songs, who doesn’t know Hannah Montana is actually Miley Cyrus, who doesn’t know the Jonas Brothers, etc., the answers will most probably be “I do know them”, there’s little possibility that people didn’t know about them then. Their impact was no joke, really.

Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera were famous as mouseketeers in The All New Mickey Mouse Club. The three kid stars—now massive pop stars—rose to fame after their appearance in the series, and their grow-up process has been publicly shown to the world after. Who doesn’t know that Spears and Timberlake were in a relationship in the early 2000s and that the breakup eventually became an inspiration for both artists’ future songs.

Moving on to the era where Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff ruled Disney. Both were successful in their own part, Lohan with her teen-flick movies, and Duff with her role as Lizzie McGuire, a Disney Channel Original Series. Their feud over another rising teenage pop star, Aaron Carter, has also become the public’s consumption that year.

High School Musical, another example, after its first TV movie release in 2006, became one of the biggest breakthroughs from Disney Channel. With its high school (and musical format) theme, the Disney Channel Original Movie became a big hit. Troy and Gabriella were dubbed as the most powerful fictional couple—which also led the stars who played the roles, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, into a real world relationship. The catchy pop songs, all sung by the stars, could be heard everywhere and it was also the start for the franchise—the movie was followed with a TV movie sequel, High School Musical 2 in 2007, and a theatrical movie sequel, High School Musical 3: Senior Year in 2008. After the franchise ended, the impacts still hadn’t gone away. “We’re All In This Together” and “Breaking Free” are still few of the series’ most iconic songs—for me personally, I would never leave the karaoke without singing one of HSM’s songs.

It is undeniable that their influence really affected my childhood-teenage years. And I bet not only for the audience, but the spotlight was most likely to affect the stars as well. With none of them still staying in Disney today, this could only mean one thing—the fame and fortune Disney gave them didn’t satisfy their essential need as a human, which is freedom. Remember how Joe Jonas wrote in a long-ass article that his youth was ‘robbed’ since he and his brothers were forced to act ‘clean’ so they could become role models for kids their age back then? And when Miley Cyrus suddenly broke out of her squeaky clean image and released her most controversial album after leaving Disney? Those were just few examples of how stars will ‘show their true colors’ after leaving the loving entertainment giant.

On the bottom line, Disney is good at making any artist rise to fame (easily), but in the background it is sad that they limit their artistry & creativity—including their choice of lyrics and the musical theme of the songs they’d release. Nonetheless, Disney succeeded in making children and teenagers at the time have their most memorable youth that they would cherish til they grow older later.

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