In Music

Hannah Montana is the pop persona of Miley Cyrus, who visits Milwaukee Sunday.

In Music

The "Best of Both Worlds" tour is selling out arenas nationwide.

In Music

The singer is the same, but songs by Hannah (left) have a poppier feel than Miley's tracks.

Who is Hannah Montana and why should you care?

When a small group of parents gathered at a recent holiday party, the conversation turned to teen star Miley Cyrus and her "Best of Both Worlds" tour, which has taken the country by storm the past few months and will make a stop Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center.

When a childless male latecomer joined the circle, he asked two simple questions, the second of which elicited a gaggle of guffaws:

"Are you guys talking about that Hannah Montana thing?" he asked, setting up the haymaker.

"Who is that, again?"

Although the man looked momentarily self-conscious amid the laughter, he had not committed a social faux pas of any magnitude.

It was just that asking parents of school-age children -- particularly those with girls between the ages of six and 13 -- about Miley / Hannah was like meeting a group of football fans and saying "Who is that Brett Favre guy?"

In most homes with pre-teen kids, Cyrus gets more TV face time than the Packers quarterback, whose own 8-year-old daughter, Breleigh, is a fan of Hannah Montana and attended a recent "Best of Both Worlds" concert in St. Paul.

As a service to those who are allowed to surf past the Disney Channel, here is a glimpse into Miley's world, which can be examined in-depth at her Web site, mileyworld.com.

Here are some basics:

Miley Cyrus is a 15-year-old entertainer whose given name is Destiny Hope Cyrus. (Miley is a nickname, apparently a shortened version of "Smiley Miley.")

Her father is Billy Ray Cyrus, a country singer-songwriter best known for his 1992 hit "Achy Breaky Heart." (And for his "achy breaky big mistakey" mullet! -ed.)

Since spring 2006, Miley and Billy Ray have starred as a father-daughter duo in the Disney Channel series "Hannah Montana."

Miley plays Miley Stewart, a "normal" teen who leads a double life. During the week, Miley is a high school student with quirky friends, homework and an annoying brother, Jackson. On the weekends, she puts on a blonde wig and transforms herself into a teen pop star known as Hannah Montana.

Only Miley's closest friends know about her dual life. (Are you catching the "Best of Both Worlds" drift?) Billy Ray, who is billed as Robby Ray, is Hannah's father and songwriter on the show.

In addition to drawing incredible ratings, the show has spawned a wide array of merchandise, from T-shirts and jeans to toys. With much of the recording industry in a nosedive, Cyrus has put out a pair of CDs -- "Hannah Montana" and "Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus" -- which have solid nearly 7 million copies worldwide.

"Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana is the huge phenomenon it is, not because she's a brilliant actor or an extraordinary singer," Syracuse University pop culture professor Robert Thompson told the Baltimore Sun.

"The reason it is a phenomenon is because of the incredible industrial complex that Disney has in control. The way the concert was promoted, the handling of Hannah Montana is a phenomenon created out of a brilliant set of marketing strategies."

The timing has been a factor, too. Cyrus' show, which has a wholesome tone, became popular at a time when previous teen idols like Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan were making headlines by going to rehab. Her music, much of which she helps write, combines a mix of bubble-gum and harder-edged pop that captivates kids from kindergarten through junior high.

The concert tour, which launched about three months ago, has been playing to sold-out arenas and has created a furor to rival tours of teen sensations like Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync as well as a previous Disney star, Hilary Duff, who starred in the show "Lizzie McGuire."

Remember the clamor for things like Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Kids and Tickle Me, Elmo dolls? The clamor for Miley Cyrus concert tickets has been similar.

Ticketmaster.com, the on-line arm of the largest concert ticket seller in the country, recently announced that the "Best of Both Worlds" received more page views than any other music act in the country last year, beating out The Police, Kenny Chesney, the Dave Matthews Band, Celine Dion, Jimmy Buffett, Rush, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Bon Jovi and Keith Urban. Only the Broadway musical "Wicked" got more requests.

How crazy is Miley-mania? A 6-year-old Texas girl wrote an essay describing how her father had died in Iraq. She won airfare for four and tickets to a concert in New York, but it turns out that the essay was a fraud.

Radio stations have sponsored wacky promotions to giveaway tickets. Counterfeit tickets have been sold. In some cities, the tickets, which have a face value of about $65, have been selling for $2,000.

Tickets to the Bradley Center show sold out in less than 15 minutes, but area brokers said that prices have dropped in recent weeks.

"It's been a bit of a disappointment," said Gary Allen, office manager at Front Row. "For some reason, the show is not as big as it is elsewhere in the country.

"In other cities, it was $340 or $400 just to get in. Here, you can get in the door for less than $100. There was a lot of demand, but the tickets were a bit easier to get."

Mike Holzberger of Connections Ticket Service said that media hype and a heavy resale market combined to inflate prices early.

"The demand has been strong since Day 1," Holzberger said. "But, I think originally the price was too high. The cheapest tickets started out at $200, but now they are less than $100.

"It's still a very popular show. It's every 10-year-old's dream to go to that concert. But, the prices are coming down and I think that's OK. It's still a lot of money for a ticket. But, we don't really want to be charging $200 for a mediocre ticket to the show. But, if the demand is there and we have to pay a lot to get them, we don't really have a choice."

Disney, which is known for running a tight ship, has seen to it that even "insiders" have had a hard time procuring tickets.

Admirals president Harris Turer, whose team is a tenant at the Bradley Center, received a lot of requests from friends when the show was announced.

"A friend called my cell phone and I hadn't spoken to him in about nine months," Turer said. "Before I ever said 'Hello,' I said 'I do not have Hannah Montana tickets!'"

Turer, who has a young daughter, will watch the show from his suite. "My daughter is thrilled," he said.

Others will, too. For those who can't attend the show, a concert movie is expected in theaters next month. Tickets to that show, presented in 3D, will cost $15. Check your local scalper for updated prices.


Talkbacks

sandstorm | Jan. 11, 2008 at 9:12 a.m. (report)

oh yeah, the fact that you have "tastes" regarding "just out of pubescence" girls is 18 kinds of creepy.

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sandstorm | Jan. 11, 2008 at 9:10 a.m. (report)

then you are a freak as well Sijan. we're not talking about a freakin' 5 year old here. THAT'S the difference. unlike you, i've actually watched the show and this girl probably wears more clothes than you do to church. you and that other latent perv probably think crap like High School Musical and actual high school musicals should be banned because the kids aren't wearing snowmobile suits while performing. seriously, hannah montana is worlds removed from what christine aguilara used to be, so take your 1950's attitude elsewhere.

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sijan_heights | Jan. 10, 2008 at 12:30 p.m. (report)

Sorry Sandman (stay out of my room at night-by the way) I've gotta agree with RNIAM about this. This stuff looks waaaay too JonBenet for my tastes. Which- I, state here and now, DO NOT INCLUDE painted up, tight jean wearin, just barely out of pubescence, harlots.

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sandstorm | Jan. 10, 2008 at 8:34 a.m. (report)

rniam. it's just you. the kid is a teen pop star no different than other teen pop stars over the last century. i'm not sure how you attach that to pedophilia, but i do believe you should probably talk to a therapist about it.

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littletinyfish | Jan. 10, 2008 at 12:47 a.m. (report)

Drew, I've seen so many Hannah Montana articles from you I'm beginning to think that the interest might lie with more than just your daughter. Let's be honest. Do you even have a daughter?

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