Miley Cyrus isn’t the first teen singing sensation to be embroiled in a scandal, but as discussion of her revealing Vanity Fair photo shoot continues to make headlines, Cyrus is the only recent teen superstar who has had to manage such controversy in the midst of major success on several fronts. Cyrus has three albums on The Billboard 200, a box office hit with a recent concert film, a sold-out 2007 tour, as well as a popular television show.
The first measure of Cyrus’ album sales since the Vanity Fair story broke on April 27 won’t be available until May 7, but Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which measures blog traffic, shows a 150% spike in discussion about Cyrus’ album “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” between April 27 and April 29.
Before the story broke and speculation began about what the effect of squeaky-clean Cyrus’s skin-baring Vanity Fair spread might be on her career, the young star’s “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” was already perched at No. 3 on The Billboard 200, with sales of 191,000. She also has two other albums on the big chart: “Hannah Montana 2” (No. 34) and “Hannah Montana 2: Non-Stop Dance Party” (No. 141).
To date, the singer and star of the Disney Channel series “Hannah Montana” has sold nearly 7 million records in the United States between her two personas, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Other teen musicians touched by scandals in the recent past were not enjoying Cyrus’ level of all-around success when their stories broke.
Racy photos of Vanessa Hudgens — another Disney Channel-made star (in her case, via the “High School Musical” series) — surfaced online in September 2007. But by that point, Hudgens’ most recent release, September 2006’s “V,” was nearly a year behind her.
In the eight weeks leading up to Sept. 2, 2007 — shortly before the Hudgens scandal broke — the album sold 27,000 copies. In the eight weeks subsequent, it moved 17,000 — a decline of 36%.
But, a year into its life-cycle, sales declines were to be expected for “V,” and it’s not clear whether Hudgens’ photos had much, if any, effect on its trajectory. Moreover, Hudgens’ overall individual success to that point was much smaller in scale than Cyrus’ is now. “V” has sold a total of 570,000 units to date.
Lindsay Lohan also initially rose to fame via Disney, in her case via films like “The Parent Trap.” She added singer to her resume in 2004 when she released her first album, “Speak,” but when drugs- and alcohol-related headlines arose in 2007, Lohan, like Hudgens, was not currently active on the charts.
Lohan’s most recent release at that time was 2005’s “A Little More Personal (RAW).” The album spent seven weeks on The Billboard 200, falling off by February 2006 — more than a year before her arrests in May and July of 2007.