Miley Cyrus’ Black Mirror alias Ashley O isn’t the first of her acting alter egos to break onto the Billboard charts. Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, the character that started it all for Cyrus, had three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and 20 hit songs on the Billboard Hot 100.
Take a walk down Miley memory lane by checking out her 11 best in-character musical performances, from Hannah to Ashley.
“This Is the Life”
This video is a gem in early 2000s history. The cropped jacket, fringe scarf and pink bedazzled sunglasses show Montana coming into her own as a pop icon. Released on the first Hannah Montana album in 2006, the track was an early favorite and introduced right off the bat in the first episode of season 1.
“If We Were a Movie”
This 2006 deep cut shows Montana’s performance of sugary-sweet track “If We Were a Movie” at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. Despite the grainy quality, Montana’s choreographed moments with her dancers and overacting (“Yeah, you!) had the crowd going wild. The song was later re-recorded for the Hannah Montana 3 album with High School Musical star Corbin Bleu.
First heard in season 2, episode 4, “Nobody’s Perfect” became an anthem for self-acceptance. Montana is particularly on her game in this video, including a passionate mid-song monologue and impressive synchronicity with her background dancers. That one guy off to the left pretending to take pictures of her during the entire performance is also an added bonus, leveling up her star quality.
“We’ve Got the Party With Us” with Jonas Brothers
On episode 16 of season 2, creatively titled “Me and Mr. Jonas and Mr. Jonas and Mr. Jonas,” one of the greatest crossovers in child-star history occurred. Sparks fly as the Jonas Brothers and Montana meet to record “We’ve Got the Party With Us” — especially between Nick and Cyrus. As was revealed in the new JoBros documentary Chasing Happiness, this very scene “changed girls for Nick forever.”
At the end of season 2, Montana receives a visit from her wacky Uncle Earl (Anchorman‘s David Koechner). After a series of hijinks, she invites him onstage so that he too can be a “Rock Star.” Uncle Earl and Jackson’s metal getups are enough to make the performance stand out. Uncle Earl also kinda shreds.
“Let’s Get Crazy”
On April 10, 2009, the world was introduced to a vamped-up Montana with the premiere of Hannah Montana: The Movie. Her performance of “Let’s Get Crazy” was the opening scene of the film, featuring a full band, beach carnival setting and a few randomly interspersed shots of creepy clowns. Montana’s more mature look along with the plot line of the movie set the stage for the uncertainty of Cyrus’ future as Montana.
“I Wanna Know” with David Archuleta
In another iconic collab, Montana was joined by American Idol runner-up David Archuleta in the season 3 episode “Promma Mia.” Besides the tune’s innate catchiness, Archuleta handing Montana a rose mid-song is truly adorable and makes her want to right her wrongs with a boy she dissed earlier. When she leaves mid-session, Archuleta even sneaks some humor in there, saying, “Oh no, when I called you thought I was David Cook!”
“He Could Be the One”
When Montana was forced to choose between good guy Jake and bad boy Jesse, a classic was born. During the two-part event, she sings the song in front of both love interests — as Miley with Jake and as Hannah with Jesse — but things get weird when Jake’s face starts to morph into Jesse’s. What’s a girl to do?
Entering into the final season of the show in 2010, “Ordinary Girl” is a ballad about Montana’s two identities. The song was premiered on the second episode of the season, highlighting how Miley was beginning to outgrow the Hannah persona. The music video is sweet, showing Montana handing a camera to one of her fans during a concert and letting her steal the spotlight for the remainder of the clip.
“Gonna Get This” with Iyaz
Iyaz of “Replay” fame guest-starred on the eighth episode of the last season, producing this absolute bop. The track saw Montana experimenting with new genres and and breaking out of her regular songwriting mold, which Cyrus had already begun to do on May 2010’s Can’t Be Tamed. The Hannah era of Cyrus’ career ended in January 2011, with her next musical project, 2013’s Bangerz, taking a completely different (and more scandalous) direction.
“On a Roll”
Cyrus took on another role acting as a pop star in Black Mirror as Ashley O. Sporting a purple wig, the video fits the pop-star mold while also seeming eerily robotic — perhaps a hint at how Cyrus feels now about her days as Hannah.