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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Observer

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Ross Lynch is famous, but Disney women are pop-stars

The Driver Era, composed of Ross and Rocky Lynch, graced the sold-out Stepan Center with their presence on Friday. After seeing the performance, there is no doubting the talent and star power the group holds, but there is also no doubting that most people in the crowd knew Ross Lynch from his Disney days. When Lynch mentioned what he referred to as “the ‘Teen Beach Movie’ song,” “On My Own,” his solo from “Teen Beach Movie 2,” the crowd went wild. 

Ross Lynch starred as Austin Moon, in Disney’s Austin and Ally and as Brady, in the popular Disney franchise, “Teen Beach Movie.” Lynch has since appeared in other roles as Jeffrey Dahmer in “My Friend Dahmer” and Harvey Kinkle in “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

Lynch’s top five songs on Spotify include three “Teen Beach Movie” songs, which is a testament to the staying power and popularity of the movie soundtracks. 

While Ross Lynch has the rock-star personality, he has not been able to do what so many Disney women have: become a mega-star.

One might argue that Ross Lynch is currently a mainstream pop star, but certainly not in the same way that Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo and Sabrina Carpenter are mainstream pop stars. These three artists all currently have songs in the Top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100 and bring a sort of glitter pop je ne sais quoi to their performances. 

In terms of acting, Disney men and women seem to perform with equal success. For example, Ryan Gosling, Zendaya, the Sprouse Twins, Keke Palmer, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. But in music, Disney women tend to outperform their male counterparts. 

The Jonas Brothers might be considered the most famous male musicians to rise out of the Disney Channel. During their rise to fame, however, three separate and individual female acts were also rising to fame, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato. 

The Disney generation preceding Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers produced two mega-stars, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, who appeared on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. Justin Timberlake worked with a group in NYSNC; Britney was always a solo act. 

While the Jonas Brothers and Justin Timberlake were able to break out of their association with Disney Channel, the women of Disney Channel have done so two-fold. 

Many former Disney stars actively try to counteract their Disney personas. Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” era is among the most famous. Lynch’s on-stage persona differs from his Austin Moon character in both the subject matter he sings about and the amount of clothes he wears. The campus rumor that Notre Dame made Lynch contractually agree to keep his shirt on was dispelled when Lynch progressively took off the three layers of jackets and shirts he arrived on stage in throughout his set. 

Women are dominating the pop scene. James Hall of the Telegraph says, “We are firmly in the era of female-dominated music” with “seven of the eight nominees for the flagship Album of the Year category” being women at this year’s Grammys. 

Hall asserts that music is moving away from groups and towards individual performers, which could be why the women of Disney tend to outperform their male counterparts, who, at least the most famous of them, have tended to gravitate toward group acts.

This includes Ross Lynch who was a member of pop-rock band R5 from 2009-2018 before the Driver Era was created in 2018. The name recognition of Ross Lynch, as a former Disney star, rather than the Driver Era, could be a contributing factor in their success. After all, I was asked multiple times if I was going to “Ross Lynch” on Friday and Ross Lynch was the star of the show. Ross Lynch has amassed a total of 11.2 million followers on Instagram, while the Driver Era has 1.6 million.

When I sent a photo of the Driver Era on stage in my family group chat, my dad said and I quote “?”.  My dad can sing the words to many Olivia Rodrigo songs. This is probably more of a reflection on the fact that he has four daughters, rather than a reflection on the fame accrued by each performer, but recognition is currency in the fame game.

Ross Lynch and many of the men of Disney Channel are talented and have star power, but they’re no Miley Cyrus, Olivia Rodrigo or Britney Spears. 

This isn’t to say that the men of Disney have not been successful in music or that Ross Lynch can’t perform in Madison Square Garden within a year of playing the Stepan Center like last year’s Sound of SUB headliner, Noah Kahan, but rather that no pop-princess shines quite like a former Disney star. 

Erin Drumm is a senior at Notre Dame studying American Studies, journalism and history. She is from Philadelphia and spends her summers (and every weekend possible) at the shore in Cape May County, New Jersey. Outside of The Observer, Erin can be found cheering on the Fighting Irish and the Phillies, reading and talking about pop culture and history. She can be reached at edrumm@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.