It’s a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme: If a teen star starts out with a squeaky-clean image, they’ll eventually prove how “mature” they are by slutting it up. Maybe Zac Efron takes his shirt off or gets peed on. Maybe Christina Aguilera lets us know she’s “dirrty.” Maybe Justin Timberlake brings sexy back.
The point is, most Disney stars think shedding their white-bread images means cranking up the slut factor. There are exceptions—think Ryan Gosling and Hilary Duff—but they’re in the minority. Mostly, the Mickey Mouse crowd can’t think beyond the booty shake. We’re not slut shaming anyone—it’s just that tarting up your image doesn’t say much for your imagination. (It does, however, give the public lots to get outraged (or titillated) by.
The newer crop of Disney stars are especially prone to going “full ho,” as anyone who saw Selena Gomez (above) and Vanessa Hudgens in Spring Breakers can attest.
So now seems like a good time to revisit the history of “Disney Kids Gone Wild,” with five examples of stars who made the Mouse blush.
1. Selena Gomez
How’d She Slut It Up? It started a few months ago when Gomez joined fellow Disney ex-pat Vanessa Hudgens in Harmony Korine’s raunchfest, Spring Breakers. Now she’s moving on to “Come & Get It,” which mixes sultry bhangra beats with, ahem, unsubtle lyrics about how a man has “an open invitation” to “come and get it.”
How Slutty Is She? If we’re just talking about “Come & Get It,” then I’d say she’s medium slutty. In the video she’s relatively covered up and, even though they’re sexual, the lyrics are more suggestive than explicit. If we add in Spring Breakers—full of murder, screwing and string bikinis—the former teen witch gets extra tramp points.
Sluttiness Aside, How’s the Music? It’s decent! “Come & Get It” isn’t exactly original—it sounds like a Jennifer Lopez castoff (God knows the AutoTune is at full blast)—but the song has a nice, slinky beat.
How’d She Slut It Up? She was in Spring Breakers, duh, and followed it up with a club banger, “$$$ex,” that’s full of naughty words and images. (se below)
How Slutty Is She? Musically speaking, she’s become pretty damn slutty. Calling your song “$$$ex” takes you into Ke$ha territory, where you’re happily celebrating what a mess you are.
Sluttiness Aside, How’s the Music? That’s just it: “$$$ex” works as a song because it’s so shameless. The beat is hot, and Hudgens’ shouty singing makes me think of punky-dancey acts like Icona Pop or ’90s sensation Republica. If you’ve never seen High School Musical, you might think Hudgens was always a naughty pop brat. That’s how naturally she takes to the persona.
3. Miley Cyrus
How’d She Slut It Up? Remember all those nude photo shoots and that song “Can’t Be Tamed?” Yeah… that was some aggressive slutting.
How Slutty Is She? The jury’s still out. “Can’t Be Tamed” was a big flop, and Miley kind of disappeared after that. She’s reemerged twerking in an animal costume and singing on a will.i.am song about getting licked like a lollipop. Given that, it seems possible her new hip-hop-influenced album will push her closer to Nicki Minaj major-league slut territory. We’ll find out soon enough.
Sluttiness Aside, How’s the Music? Again, the jury’s out. I liked “Party in the U.S.A.” and “The Climb” as much as the next dude, but I’m not a fan of “Fall Down.” But the next album is really going to make or break Miley’s career, I think. If it’s good, then she can be in as many nudie shoots as she wants.
How’d They Slut It Up? Their boys new single, “Pom Poms” is about a woman bouncing her breasts around. And the video uses every naughty cheerleader image you can imagine.
How Slutty Are They? Low-grade sluttiness. Take off those shirts, JoBros, and show us what you’re working with! (Joe Jonas does get a few slutty points for this solo video, though.)
Sluttiness Aside, How’s the Music? “Pom Poms” is a surprisingly hot song. (Here’s my review.) It’s totally evaporated since it got released, however, so it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a hit. Maybe that’ll convince the boys to go full frontal next time.
How’d She Slut It Up? It seems like a pointless question, right? She started out as a cute member of The New Mickey Mouse Club, but even her breakthrough single “…Baby One More Time” was built on teasing a “schoolgirl sex kitten” vibe. Brit spent the next decade covering her naked body with sparkles.
How Slutty Is She? Britney has actually gotten less slutty as the years have roll on—something not guaranteed to happen with a sexy pop icon. (Just ask Mariah Carey.) Yes, she’ll still drop a song like “Hold It Against Me” or “If U Seek Amy,” but Britney’s more recent hits have been less about bumping uglies and more about just partying at the club. After years of constant scandal, she’s made a fascinating transition to Pop Music Survivor, still generating hits and somewhat reining it in.
Sluttiness Aside, How’s the Music? I didn’t love “Scream and Shout,” but it just ended a long run in the Top Ten. And the fact that she’s still cranking out hits says something about the potential future—and longevity—of the newly class of Disney sluts.
Mark Blankenship has never used a dollar sign as an ’S,’ and that’s his loss. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship.