Ashley Tisdale deserved better as a musician and I’m here to tell you why.
Most people probably remember Ashley Tisdale best from her roles on the Disney Channel where she starred in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and High School Musical. The prime of Disney as some may see it, Tisdale along with among many other (still notable) cast mates including Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, entered the Hollywood mainstream. Most of them continued to have acting careers while some ventured into the music world. It might be cliché now that all Disney stars attempt to have singing careers but the mid 2000’s were a different time and if we’re being honest, they had a lot more talent back then. Here is where the story begins.
Shortly after gaining momentum from her acting gigs, Ashley Tisdale released her debut studio album Headstrong in the beginning of 2007. Supported by singles “He Said, She Said” and “Be Good To Me”, Headstrong was a success. It debuted in the top ten and is certified a Gold album. Although it received mostly mixed reviews, in retrospect the album isn’t too bad. Tisdale’s vocals could use a bit of training and her dance moves might not have been the best (please refer to the “He Said, She Said” music video) but at the end of the day it’s a pretty good start for a pop artist. Most of the songs are dance pop inspired tracks with a few ballads thrown in there and are aimed more at electronic/synth in terms of production. The most predominant themes are about love and relationships with a little bit of drama and sass thrown in the mix. The lyrics are, well, just words basically and don’t have much deeper meaning but the music part of it is interesting, to say the least. Overall, the record might have been immature in some aspects but it was definitely enjoyable to listen to and is reminiscent of many pop stars, past and present.
Two years later in 2009, Tisdale released her follow up, Guilty Pleasure. This time she took the pop rock route, which was pretty common at the time (Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato all had similar sounds) and was a lot more mature than her previous attempt. Although it seemed like a step in the right direction, Guilty Pleasure really didn’t chart all that well; the lead single “It’s Alright, It’s OK” barely cracked the Billboard Hot 100 landing at number 99. The album entirely fell of the charts after just a few weeks. Beyond that, however, there are actually some really great pop songs on here if you actually manage to listen past the poorly chosen lead single. “Masquerade”, “Delete You”, “Hot Mess” and “Crank It Up” are all perfectly crafted to match the mood of the record. “Crank It Up” even reminds me of Britney Spears’ now heavily acclaimed 2007 album, Blackout. Even though this time around Tisdale’s vocals were extremely over processed in some regards and the music portion was a little messy at times, Guilty Pleasure had some undeniably great songs that could have been radio hits.
When looing back on Ashley Tisdale’s short lived music career, the main two things I noticed were lack of originality and lack of preparedness. Yet, on top of both of those, I think the biggest downfall was the lack of promotion from her team, record label or whoever where supporting her at the time. She had everything necessary to become a major artist; the looks, the outfits, the attitude, the voice, even though some things needed a little bit of a touch up and maybe a little bit of time to find out who she wanted to be as an artist. Most pop acts don’t even reach their peak until three or four records into their career so it’s possible all she needed was a little bit of time. Nonetheless, I think what she needed most of all was a team that supported her and promoted her in the ways she needed.
(At the time I was writing this, Tisdale had released a new single called “Voices In My Head” and a new album is reportedly on the way even though no official date has been set. To say I’m excited about this new chapter is an understatement and I’m sure many others are also looking forward to it).