Nothing conjures up the feeling of nostalgia quite like your favorite Disney hits. There are more than a few Disney Channel star songs that will outlast even some of the most mainstream pop songs of the 2000s and '10s, and it's all because of their catchy choruses and unforgettable ties to pop culture history. Gen Z loved them, millennials loved them, and even parents loved them, too. So the next time you're about to feel guilty pressing "play" on your Disney Channel nostalgia playlist, don't.
If Aly & AJ could re-up their classic hit "Potential Breakup Song" into an explicit pop-rock anthem, any number of Disney Channel stars' tracks can find their way back into the mainstream. The stars of yesteryear had their fingers on the pulse of musical greatness, and their best hits have similarities to today's Top 40 hits. Take Miley Cyrus' "7 Things" for example: She was already exhibiting her love for rock and roll all the way back in 2008. Cyrus also blessed us with many iconic hits while appearing on Hannah Montana from 2006 to 2011.
Not every bop played during Suite Life re-run commercials holds up in the present day, but there are too many that do to ignore just how good the music was back in the day. Whether or not the tracks were engineered for a teen audience is beside the point. Some songs stay with you forever, and if you were to play a Jonas Brothers track at the club, you know people would dance along.
1. “Breaking Free” — Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron
“Breaking Free” was one of the most memorable tracks from High School Musical because it signified the moment Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez took their chemistry to the stage and won over their high school auditorium. If you didn’t sing this song at home and host a concert of your own, were you even a Disney kid?
2. “This Is Me” — Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas
Camp Rock featured Demi Lovato and The Jonas Brothers, so naturally, it was jam-packed with so many catchy bops. “This Is Me” was one of the most popular songs from the flick, and it lives on as a Disney classic to this day.
3. “Best of Both Worlds” — Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana
Few Disney channel songs are as iconic as the Hannah Montana theme song, which perfectly explained her duel-life dilemma. Cyrus sang all about how she has to chill out and take it slow before rocking the show. One listen will bring you back to the Hannah Montana heydays.
4. “Strut” — The Cheetah Girls
If there’s one thing the Cheetah Girls taught us, it was how to throw an epic dance party. “Strut” was from the second installment in the film series, and was sung by all of the girls collectively.
5. "Potential Breakup Song" - Aly & AJ
Aly and AJ Michalka are practically Disney Channel royalty. The sisters starred in several shows and Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs), including the beloved 2006 dairy farm buddy comedy, Cow Belles. Their lasting impact on millennial teens' lives, however, happens to hinge on their musical endeavors. The duo created one of the most recognizable pop-rock songs of the 2000s, "Potential Breakup Song," and the recent TikTok-induced revival of the hit truly had everyone in their nostalgia feels.
6. "7 Things" - Miley Cyrus
The 2008 release of Miley Cyrus' "7 Things" marked one of the first times fans of the Hannah Montana actress got to see her perform as herself, sans blonde wig and sparkly costume. While Cyrus would go on to create a name for herself outside of the Disney Channel pop canon, she really outdid herself with "7 Things." It was the turning point in her career and a sign of all her solo hits to come. "Party in the USA," "Can't Be Tamed," and "We Can't Stop" all depended on the blueprint set out by the breakup jam.
7. "So Yesterday" - Hillary Duff
Hillary Duff left behind her Lizzie McGuire persona with "So Yesterday," along with all of her exes and their bullsh*t. The 2009 track is everything one could ask for from a former Disney Channel star trying to make a name for themselves in mainstream pop: a rockstar attitude, blaring guitar riffs, and a chorus that's still catchy over a decade later. At least we have Duff's songs to cry to while we mourn the loss of the remake of her classic TV show.
8. “Let’s Get Crazy” — Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana
“Let’s Get Crazy” appears on the Hannah Montana 3 soundtrack and is all about having fun and letting loose. If there’s anything Miley Cyrus taught us during her five-year reign as Hannah Montana, it’s how to have a grand time. Sweet niblets!
9. "Push It To The Limit" - Corbin Bleu
Corbin Bleu got his start in High School Musical, but the dancing and singing powerhouse made sure you'd never forget him when he embarked on his solo music career. "Push It To The Limit" was made for his DCOM with Keke Palmer, Jump In, but it earned critical success, too; it climbed to No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. The 2007 track had a booming dance breakdown and a beat that made you want to join a jump-rope squad, so don't worry if you start dancing when you hit play. It's the only right thing to do.
10. "Who Says" - Selena Gomez & The Scene
Before Selena Gomez was Selena Gomez, she was Selena Gomez & The Scene. The Wizards of Waverly Place star had an entire roster of hits throughout the 2010s, but "Who Says" encapsulated the most wholesome aspects of pop music at the time. The self-love anthem is still worth playing today, even if it's just to make yourself smile and feel good. Now, whatever happened to The Scene?
11. "La La Land" - Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato's foray into pop-punk was impressive, especially considering she was still working on shows like Sonny With A Chance when she first started out. She was bold and fiery from the start, and ready to tell the truth about the industry in her 2008 song, "La La Land." Turn the speakers up all the way and head-bang along to the thrashing guitar riffs, because this is Lovato at her best.
12. "Burnin' Up" - Jonas Brothers
I mean, who doesn't love a Jo-Bro throwback? "Burnin' Up" is arguably still the Jonas Brothers' most recognizable track, and for good reason too. Nick's solo is the stuff of stans' dreams, and the chorus birthed a new genre of stadium-ready pop songs for teens to sing along to at birthday parties and sleepovers. 2008 was truly a great year for Disney Channel pop stars.
13. "Some Call It Magic" - Raven Symone´
That's So Raven was one of the first Disney Channel shows to truly make a lasting impact on Gen Z audiences. It ran for four seasons and clocked 100 episodes, along with a spinoff soon after (Cory in the House is still so good). The show's star, Raven Symone, weaved her track "Some Call It Magic" into the fabric of the show's plot, and thank goodness she did. Watching the music video is like taking a psychic trip back to the days of watching syndicated episodes of the show, laughing along to every punchline and vision.
14. "He Said She Said" - Ashley Tisdale
Ashley Tisdale wasn't the only High School Musical star to have a breakout pop solo career, but she had one of the most memorable for sure. Her tracks were uncharacteristically scandalous, and "He Said She Said" broke the family-friendly norms of the Disney Channel's otherwise G-rated roster of content. The music video is a trip back to the clubbing days of yesteryear, when Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" owned the dancefloor and you just wanted to get your freak on with a guy wearing a fedora. Not to mention, it's an earworm: "Baby, I can see us movin' like that (like that)/ Baby, I can see us touchin' like that (like that)."
15. “drivers license” — Olivia Rodrigo
Rodrigo took the music world by storm with her January 2021 release of “drivers license,” which fans speculated to be about two other Disney channel stars — Joshua Bassett and Sabrina Carpenter. The song was rumored to be about Bassett’s newfound relationship with Carpenter, and the heartbreak it brought to Rodrigo. However, Rodrigo has been cryptic when addressing the song’s inspiration.
16. “Get'cha Head in the Game” — Zac Efron
“Get'cha Head in the Game” was featured on the official High School Musical soundtrack, and was performed by the Wildcats superstar himself, Troy Bolton. The song is about needing to refocus his attention on the basketball court, after being distracted by his budding relationship with Gabriella Montez.
17. “Burn So Bright” — Bella Thorne
Thorne starred in Shake It Up! from 2010 to 2013, and she kept her acting career going strong after that. But she’s also a talented musician, and her 2018 song “Burn So Bright” was featured in the film Midnight Sun.
18. “Replay” — Zendaya
Like Thorne, Zendaya also starred on Disney’s Shake It Up! before turning her attention to a recording career. “Replay” appeared on her self-titled debut studio album. However, the bops ended there and Zendaya quickly went back to being a full-time actress. Now, she’s the star of HBO’s Euphoria.
19. “Skin” — Sabrina Carpenter
“Skin” was perceived as Carpenter’s response to Olivia Rodrigo’s “drivers license,” but the singer was tight-lipped about whether those rumors were true.
“It’s also just not my place to say,” Carpenter said in a February 2021 interview with Ryan Seacrest. “I think a lot of people were sort of pointing fingers and at the end of the day, I was dealing with what I was dealing with internally and the only way I ever know how to deal with things is to write about it.”
20. “Lie Lie Lie” — Joshua Bassett
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star Joshua Bassett also released a song shortly after the “drivers license” drama went down. While he never confirmed his relationship with Rodrigo, his own song hinted at some drama in his life. He sang, “So they told me all the things that you said / Running all over my name, oh / And you're acting oh so innocent.”
21. "Dynamite" - China Anne McClain
Taio Cruz might have lit up the charts with "Dynamite," but A.N.T. Farm's China Anne McClain reignited the spark. Her cover of the hit song was a standout moment from the Disney Channel series. The bubblegum-pop remake of the already catchy track had all the hallmarks of a classic Radio Disney hit, but for a new age of Gen Z-listeners.
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