From Bobby Sherman to the Backstreet Boys, preteen idols have endured as a mainstay of pop music culture.
This decade, the Walt Disney Company has increasingly managed the business of puberty pop. Its new generation of musical Mouseketeers includes household names like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers. Disney artists mostly are young actors able to sing tracks put together by a stable of songwriters and producers.
Mitchel Musso is one of the latest. He plays the role of Oliver Oken on the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana. On Aug. 14 at the Majestic Theatre, Musso opens for Metro Station, a band that includes Miley Cyrus' older brother, Trace, and Musso's older brother, Mason.
Musso's self-titled debut album was released on Disney Records in June. The first single is the sing-along breakup song "Hey." The chorus brims with giddy liberation: "Hey! I'm screaming at you. Hey! Don't care enough to write you a letter now that I'm doing better on my own." Musso co-wrote three songs on the CD, but like many Disney artists, he's cast more prominently as the album's showman.
Think of it as musical theater straight out of a recording studio, with Musso mastering a leading role formulated by a team that included Sam Hollander and Dave Katz. They work as the successful songwriting and production duo S*A*M and SLUGGO and have penned Top 40 singles for bands like the Gym Class Heroes and Boys Like Girls.
Musical theater is in Musso's genes. His path to Disney stardom was smoothed by his parents, Samuel Musso and Katherine Gaye Moore, who were involved in community theater in the Dallas area for 25 years. Mitchel began acting in television commercials at age 8.
Now "Hey" is the number-four song on the Radio Disney Top 30, just below Taylor Swift, Hannah Montana and Jordin Sparks.
"It's an exciting new adventure in my career," Musso says about his music on his Radio Disney blog. "My fans are absolutely AMAZING! PEACE OUT!"