Miley Cyrus overshadows her 'Hannah Montana' character with new album

Hannah Montana may be the most potent phenomenon in Hollywood right now - bigger than Batman, bigger than Brangelina. Yet these days, the girl who truly fascinates is not Hannah, but Miley Cyrus.

The 15-year-old face of the billion-dollar Disney franchise is no longer a star for just the tween set: She's intriguing people who turn the pages of Seventeen magazine, as well as Us Weekly and Vanity Fair. While "Hannah" is still very much a part of Miley, it does not solely define the singer/actress.

Nowhere is that clearer than with the release of Miley's latest album, "Breakout," which comes out Tuesday. While Miley has already sold millions of albums, it's always been with the "Hannah Montana" moniker attached.

But there's no blonde wig to be found on the cover of this CD. Instead, there's a more mature sound that's already finding an older audience. The CD's first single, the rocker "7 Things," is now No. 9 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and marks her biggest success in translating her music beyond the Radio Disney audience.

"To be played on these radio stations is awesome, to be able to rock out to it in your car without planning it, without it being just a kids channel," said Miley, who with her deep voice and self-assured manner seems a decade older that 15.

"(I'm) making it a little more fun and edgy, and I think being able to step out of the 'Hannah Montana' thing - not in a way where I'm forgetting her completely, but as my fans grow up, me growing up too and kind of having my own person."

The "Hannah Montana thing" is familiar to millions of kids and adults alike. A movie is due out next year, the third season of the kitschy TV show starts filming in weeks, and the DVD of the blockbuster "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds" tour, which wrapped up earlier this year, is a lock to top the charts when it debuts later this summer.

But navigating her own celebrity path outside the confines of famous character has proven to be difficult. With former teen phenoms like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears providing epic examples of bad behaviour, and the nude photo scandal involving Disney "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens, tabloids have been eager to document a Miley implosion.

The first signs of potential concern came in the form of personal pictures that made their way onto the Internet, showing Miley dressed provocatively (though not obscenely) and setting the blogosphere abuzz.

A more serious firestorm erupted in April when Vanity Fair published a photo of Miley wrapped in a sheet, showing her bare back and shoulders. The photo caused such outrage that no less than The New York Times chronicled the controversy, and Miley and her father, country star Billy Ray Cyrus, said they regretted the result of the photo shoot. They also said she was never topless, as the photo by the esteemed Annie Leibovitz suggested.

But Miley has learned she doesn't even have to bare a shoulder to cause a fuss - as when she revealed in an interview earlier this month that "Sex and the City" was one of her favorite shows.

"It just scared people because there was the word 'sex' in the title, you know what I mean?" said Miley, brushing off her critics.

"Just because that's what the show is about that doesn't mean I'm doing that ... you don't all the sudden become the character that you watch," she added.

While allowing that she's made "mistakes," she also feels that the media has been unforgiving in their scrutiny at times - and a bit unwilling to see that she's not a little kid anymore.

"It's kind of hard to let someone that was so young when they started kind of grow up," reasoned Miley, who was 13 when she debuted in the role. "You just have to realize that people make mistakes and that makes you almost a little more relatable."

Hollywood Records A&R executive Jon Lind, who worked with Miley on the "Hannah Montana/Meet Miley Cyrus" album, said such scrutiny is just a part of today's tabloid world.

"I don't think she's really done anything scathingly wrong, but I think there's a lot of people selling a lot of magazines following her around, making her into the next somebody, and I don't think that's fair - she's not the next anybody as far as I can see," he said.

He added that he's seen a significant growth in Miley in just the past year: "The difference between being a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old in any tween or teenager's life is an extraordinary amount - it's like dog years."

Much of that growth is reflected on her new CD. While she co-wrote a majority of the songs on the "Meet Miley Cyrus" half of the last record, on "Breakout," her songs have a weightier tone, discussing the environment, breakups and relationships.

"She always reached the adult audience, because she always reached moms. It's just in a way that radio finally started to acknowledge," said Sean Ross of Edison Media Research, which tracks the radio industry. "'7 Things,' ... has a little bit of an Avril Lavigne-thing going; it sounds like an adult record."

"There are lots of people who wouldn't necessarily wanna buy or listen to a 'Hannah Montana' record because of their predisposition to the Disney television character," said Lind. "But if you listen to this record as an artist, the quality of her voice, the quality of her writing, and the quality of the production, I hope, as she does, that it will be taken seriously by (an) older music audience."

"I hope I get respected a little bit more as a writer," said Miley. "I want them to respect me and know that I have a lot to say, I have a lot for the world to know and take away from what my life experiences have been."

She's also hoping to show more of those life experiences in her acting. She'd like to do some independent films and play gritty characters: "I do wanna, like, showcase a little more of what I can do, and also some different situations ... I would like to do something that was a little more deep."

She's even hoping to add a little bit more of an edge to "Hannah" next season.

"There's some things that I want to reinvent with her look, and not make it all sparkles and butterflies, you know? Some stars, and some black rock 'n' roll stuff," she said. "I did want it to grow up a little bit."

But lest anyone fear that she's growing up a bit too much, she's quick to point out that's she hasn't grown out of "Hannah."

"I probably won't tour again as a 'Hannah Montana' tour ... I'm kind of past that stuff. But I definitely wanna keep doing my show. I love doing (it) and I wouldn't wanna give it up quite yet."

Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brothers Together In Upcoming Concert

With all the bad press surrounding young celebrities, it is nice to report on some good news for a change. Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers and others will perform during Disney's Concert for Hope. The concert will benefit cancer research and treatment programs at the City of Hope.

The Disney concert will be held Sunday, September 14, at the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal City. Tickets will become available Saturday, August 16 at 10am.

Miley Cyrus has already raised more than $1 million for cancer research at the City of Hope when she donated $1 for each ticket sold on her “Best of Both Worlds” (Hannah/Montana/ Miley Cyrus) concert tour.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1,437,180 people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

The Miley Cyrus Dating Triangle Starring Nick Jonas and Selena Gomez

Are Selena Gomez and Nick Jonas the next tween power couple? While many have speculated that Selena Gomez might just be "the next Miley Cyrus" if the two are dating she will be following in the footsteps of Miley as Cyrus has admitted that she has dated Jonas brothers star Nick Jonas. The young Hannah Montana star believes she was "in live" with Nick, a report from Fox News has claimed.

That brings us back to Selena Gomez and Nick Jonas. The Miley Cyrus 2.0 candidate told Fox news that she was not dating Nick and she had no feud with Miley Cyrus. However Cyrus and her pal Mandy Jiroux just re-released a YouTube video where they mock Selena and her pal Demi Lovato.

Sounds childish, right? Well don't forget, these are just kids. Cyrus gave her interview where she spills all of the Nick Jonas secrets in the September issue of Seventeen magazine. Miley says that she took the break up very hard and cried for a month before beginning her rebellious stage.

Her racy photos scandal that showed her in everything from a wet t-shirt to pictures of Miley in her underwear came post Nick, but many of the saucy snaps were taken to please Nick, reports have claimed. Will Miley reunite with Nick or is happy with Selena. The teen catfights may be just getting underway.