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The Top 25 Teen Idol Breakout Moments

From Frank Sinatra and the Jackson 5 to Britney Spears and One Direction, a look at the singers and performers who have shaped generations

teen idols

Miley Cyrus, the Jackson Five and Frank Sinatra were all breakout teen idols during their respective decades.

Teen idols are a special kind of rock star – their popularity may fall as fast as it rises, but it tends to rise higher and inspire more ecstatic adoration than any other kind of artist. Musical styles and images change, but the passion of young fans is as much a part of the backbone of rock & roll as the blues. Here are the top 25 teen idol breakout moments of the rock era.

miley cyrus

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Miley Cyrus – 2007

Like Ricky Nelson fifty years earlier, Miley Cyrus made her name playing a fictionalized version of herself on television. Like Ricky Nelson, her actual father acted alongside her in a television show that introduced her to America. The similarities between The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and Hannah Montana pretty much stop there, but both shows lead to huge hit singles and they created teen idols. Miley's rise was meteoric. Tickets to her 2007 Best of Both Worlds tour sold out faster than any tour in memory, and her show had monster ratings. It seemed like she was poised to become a more stable version of Britney Spears – especially after singles "The Climb" and "Party In The USA" crossed over to the adult market, but then things started falling apart. Her 2010 LP Can't Be Tamed failed to produce a hit, and Cyrus seemed over-eager to present a more adult image. Parents were horrified by Miley 2.0, and at the age of nineteen she already seems like a has-been. There's plenty of time for a comeback though.

justin bieber

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Justin Bieber – 2009

Justin Bieber is the first teen idol to break through because of YouTube. He was discovered singing on the site by Scooter Braun when he was just 13. After teaming up with Usher (who saw huge potential in the kid), Bieber was recording his debut album and gearing up for world domination. In late 2009 he released My World, and landed a hit with "One Less Lonely World." Girls across America took their Jonas Brothers posters off the wall and put up Justin photos. It's nearly three years later and Bieber is still king. His new single "Boyfriend" crossed over to the adult market, and his relationship with Selena Gomez has turned both of them into bigger stars than they'd be on their own. It's unclear where things go from here, especially since a new five-piece act from England is threatening to steal his thunder.

one direction

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One Direction – 2012

 

In 2010 the five future members of One Direction auditioned for the UK X-Factor. None of them made it on their own, but guest judge Nicole Scherzinger had the bright idea to put them together into a group. It was a good plan. England fell madly in love with the boys, and after a brilliant marketing campaign, the rest of the planet soon fell in line too. Over the past few months One Direction became the biggest boy band in America since N'Sync. When they were in New York to play on Saturday Night Live, girls camped out for days to get into the studio, and their hotel was mobbed Beatlemania style. They have no time free for a long summer tour in America, so they took the unprecedented step of selling tickets for a 2013 American summer tour. It's quite possible some girls that bought tickets to those shows will have moved on by then, but One Direction's managers know you have to cash in while you can. These groups tend to have short shelf lives.