Hannah Montana

Hannah Montana 3

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Miley Cyrus was 13 years old when she started performing as Hannah Montana, but by the time Hannah Montana 3 was released, she was nearly 17. That's a pretty big span of time in a teenager's life, but you'd never know it from listening to these songs -- which is a big part of the problem with them. At this point, the Hannah Montana franchise, its star, and especially its music seem a little weary from their massive popularity, but they haven't changed much over three seasons of the TV show that started it all, two movies, and five albums. If anything, Hannah Montana 3 is more formulaic than ever, switching from fizzy pop to searching acoustic ballads like clockwork. It's also the most cobbled-together Hannah Montana album yet, repeating a couple songs from the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack ("Let's Do This" and "Let's Get Crazy") and including another song, "Ice Cream Freeze (Let's Chill)," that sounds extremely similar to the soundtrack's "Hoedown Throwdown." Including fellow Hannah Montana star Mitchel Musso's "Let's Make This Last 4Ever" and a duet version of "If We Were a Movie" with High School Musical's Corbin Bleu is savvy cross-promotion, but it adds to the album's unfocused feel. That feeling extends to the songs that haven't appeared anywhere else. The Hannah Montana machine has pumped out so much music so quickly that there just isn't much personality left, and whether it's the happy side of Hannah ("It's All Right Here," "Supergirl") or the reflective one ("Mixed Up," "Don't Wanna Be Torn"), they sound equally cookie-cutter. The album's nadir is "Just a Girl," where Hannah/Miley laments getting caught up "in a world that believes fame is everything"; the only thing worse than a big star singing about how fame has damaged her is a big child star singing about how fame has damaged her. On the surface, Hannah Montana 3 seems to give fans exactly what they want, but while the Hannah Montana franchise has never been a nonprofit endeavor, the calculation behind this music overwhelms the fun that used to be in it.