The popular Disney Channel TV series Hannah Montana chronicled the adventures of a teenage girl who moves from Nashville, Tennessee to Malibu, California, and lives a double life as a pop star to boot. The show helped make a star of Miley Cyrus, who played Miley Stewart and Hannah (her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, played her father and manager, Robbie Stewart). Hannah Montana's — and Cyrus' — success was reflected on the charts: The show's soundtracks, which included 2006's Hannah Montana and 2009's Hannah Montana: The Movie, made her the youngest performer to have four chart-topping albums. On songs such as the multi-platinum hit "The Climb," she bridged the pop sound of her Disney contemporaries with nods to her country roots, a perfect fit for her already powerful vocal chops.
Miley Cyrus caught the acting bug in 2001 after seeing a production of Mama Mia!, and made her debut with a small role on Doc in 2003. That year, she also appeared in the Tim Burton film Big Fish. With her mother acting as her manager, Cyrus connected with agent Mitchell Gossett, who helped her score auditions for projects including Hannah Montana. She won the lead role in the Disney Channel TV series, and Hannah Montana became an instant hit when it debuted the following March. The show's first soundtrack appeared in October 2006, around the time that Cyrus hit the road with another Disney pop act, the Cheetah Girls. Featuring songs sung by Cyrus as well as a duet with her father, Hannah Montana topped the Billboard 200 Albums chart and went on to sell over three million copies around the world.
Over the next few years, Hannah Montana's popularity continued to grow. In March 2007, the show's theme song, "The Best of Both Worlds," was released as a single that peaked at number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart that August. The second Hannah Montana full-length, Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus, which featured one album of Hannah songs and one of Cyrus' songs, appeared in June 2007. It reached the top of the Billboard 200 Albums chart a month later, marking her second number one album in a row. Later in the year, she embarked on the Best of Both Worlds tour, which stretched into early 2008. The concert film The Best of Both Worlds and its soundtrack appeared that April, with the album reaching number three on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. By then, Cyrus was shooting Hannah Montana: The Movie.
Hannah Montana: The Movie was released in March 2009 and its soundtrack peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, making the 16-year-old Cyrus the youngest performer to have four chart-topping albums. Meanwhile, the soundtrack's lead single — the country-pop ballad "The Climb" — became one of the year's most omnipresent songs, giving Cyrus her first multi-platinum hit. In 2010, Hannah Montana filmed its final season, and Hannah Montana Forever followed in October of that year. After the show folded, Cyrus established herself as a genre-defying pop star with 2013's hip-hop-influenced Bangerz. Later, she added trippy pop to her repertoire with 2015's Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz and touched on her country music heritage with 2017's Younger Now. Cyrus closed out the decade with charting singles that included 2019's "Mother's Daughter," "Slide Away" and "Don't Call Me Angel," a collaboration with Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey that appeared on the Charlie's Angels soundtrack. Her role on the fifth season of the British sci-fi anthology TV series Black Mirror as pop star Ashley O spawned the viral hit "On a Roll," which topped The Hollywood Reporter's TV Songs char and made Cyrus one of a handful of singers to appear on the charts under three separate monikers. ~ Heather Phares