Disney has a long-established reputation of turning its young, up-and-coming television personalities into singing stars; Annette Funicello, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus and Hilary Duff are just a few of its alumni. But the newest comer to the list, Bridget Mendler, despite having an obvious amount of vocal talent, faces some unique challenges with her debut release Hello, My Name Is…
Indeed, one would think that someone fell asleep in the Disney spin office. While the star of Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie had enough sway among viewers to have a respectable first week on iTunes on name recognition alone, there has otherwise been very little buzz about the album outside of Disney circles. As a result, there is a wide audience who barely knows who Bridgit Mendler is, let alone that she’s released an album that deserves to be given at least a spin or two.
And that’s not all this young artist is up against. If she’s to be taken seriously as a pop singer, then specifically, I can think of two very significant things that are working against Mendler here:
- If you’re going to debut an album as a new female pop artist, DO NOT release it the same week as the biggest female superstar in the industry. (Especially if you’re similar in age or genre.) Taylor Swift’s Red has been well-promoted and is already breaking sales records this week, overshadowing anything remotely close in its genre. Hello My Name Is… simply didn’t stand a chance being released alongside that record, sadly reinforcing the “Bridgit who?” dilemma.
- If you’re going to debut an album as a new female pop artist, you CAN’T sound like everyone else in the genre. There are just too many pop vocalists on the market right now, and they already sound too much alike. The only way to become known among the throng is to stand out. This poses a problem for Mendler, because within a minute of listening to this record, comparisons to Rihanna, Carly Rae Jepsen, Demi Lovato and Colbie Caillat are virtually inevitable. Good company, to be sure, but you can’t build a career as a pop star by sounding like everyone else.
This is all very unfortunate for Bridgit Mendler, for one very important reason: she’s actually quite good. This isn’t another case of an actor trying to be a singer; this girl can saaaang. In fact, the one quality that could be used to her advantage is that it is pleasantly surprising for a sweet-looking, fair-skinned blonde to have such an R&B vibe to her voice. But there’s yet another obstacle in her path: the songs on the record are pretty much run-of-the-mill pop songs that sound so much like everything else that no amount of R&B swagger is going to fix them.
The upshot of all this is that Bridgit Mendler is a promising young vocalist who has fallen victim to a series of unfortunate events—all of which, sadly, could have been prevented if more care had been taken in her artist development and promotion. As a result, unless some serious P&R rescue tactics come into play, I fear that Hello, My Name Is… will simply get lost in obscurity. It’s a good thing Bridgit Mendler already has an acting career, because until she gets a bit more power behind her in the promotion department, as a singer she’s not likely to get the attention she truly deserves.