This Week in 2007 is a weekly column looking back on Lindsay Lohan, the first iPhone, George W. Bush, and everything else we loved about the year 2007.
Miley Cyrus's Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus was The Wall of tween pop records. Released ten years ago this month, the double-disc concept album explored Miley's dual public persona. Hannah Montana, her popular Disney Channel character, sang the first disc's odes to "Old Blue Jeans" while Miley herself performed the second half's edgier lyrics like the refrain of "G.N.O. (Girls Night Out)": "I'm out to have a good time / To get you off of my mind."
Miley's experimentation paid off. Disney Channel could promote the Hannah Montana portion of the record, while the high concept pushed fans—and more importantly, music critics—to also separate Miley from her TV role. "See You Again," the lead single, became Miley's first top-ten hit, and Entertainment Weekly music critic Shirley Halperin wrote, "[Miley] impresses with R&B-tinged songs."
It was step one to transitioning Miley away from child star stereotypes. The next step was the album's Best of Both World Tour. Miley had already opened for the Cheetah Girls, but now she was headlining a tour as both her TV character and self. Miley neither stripped nor twerked on tour, but it prompted one of the biggest controversies of her career when ticket prices soared to $3,000 on the secondary market in the fall of 2007. The subsequent cable TV outrage, three attorney general investigations, and class action lawsuit diminished Miley's artistic accomplishment.
Ticketmaster had originally marketed tickets at $26 to $66, but after shows sold out, Reuters reported that ticket brokers resold passes for thousands a piece. Even roughly 1,000 moms and dads who had shelled out $29 a month for access to Mileyworld.com (which promised pre-sale access) failed to get tickets.
The furor was out of Miley's control. It's legal to resell tickets (as the National Association of Ticket Brokers said in a statement at the time: "Every day of the week our members are selling tickets below face value for some event"), and the singer's website Mileyworld.com was run by Pennsylvania-based Interactive Media Marketing.
One group of parents filed a class action lawsuit against the company. Pennsylvania Attorney General's spokesman Nils Frederiksen told Fox News, "All those people joined the fan club thinking they had a chance of getting those tickets when they didn't have a snowball's chance in Tennessee of getting those tickets." (They settled in 2009, granting plaintiffs' four months of free access to the Miley fan site.)
Tickets eventually sold for more than the Police's landmark reunion shows. Some adults rolled their eyes at the bidding war. Vicky Estes, a grandma in Tennessee, remarked to the Knoxville News Sentinel, "I don't know why anybody would want to go to her concert if they had to pay hundreds of dollars… I don't care if I'm a billionaire. That's crazy." But many fought for tickets.
According to Reuters, hundreds of dads competed in a "High Heel Derby," a.k.a. a race where men run in heels, to win tickets. "We got a couple of hundred phone calls from people asking questions about where to get high heeled shoes big enough for husbands and about 150 men turned up in high heels," Saint Louis Y98 radio programer Mark Edwards explained to the news service.
My mom was one parent who spent thousands of dollars on Hannah Montana tickets. I don't recall wanting the tickets, but my mom had immigrated from French Quebec and associated pop concerts with a perfect American childhood. I went to tons of pop shows. One time, we even flew to New York for a Michael Jackson show on September 10, 2001. When I asked if she regretted buying Hannah Montana or other concert tickets, my mom said, "No! You would never have experienced 9/11 if I had not bought those [Jackson] tickets."
As strange as my mother's response is, most of Miley's 2007 audience feels the same way. Claire, a student at Rice University who had free tickets to the show, wore matching Hannah Montana blonde wigs with her friends.
"Hannah Montana was everything," she recalls. "The TV show was an interesting factor that made Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana such a popular icon. Her music was just complementary; she appealed to me and my friends because she was a character we could relate to, but was still elusive in our everyday lives. Everyone dreams about being a pop star, but Miley Stewart was a regular girl living a regular life… In this way, she became a celebrity throughout so many mediums: TV, the movie, music, performance art, fashion."
Hannah Montana 2 and its tour proposed an interesting, even daring, concept for a children's show, but the ticket scandal diminished Miley's child star persona. Looking back, though, most fans remember the tour, but not the ticket scandal. Parents went to extremes because they wanted to please their kids. When it comes to pop concerts, most kids treasure their memories, not their parents' bank accounts.