Disney’s first lady of princesses, Cinderella, is the epitome of class, don’t you think? Modestly-cut gowns, sweet headbands, cute choker necklaces. Never a nip slip or an unsightly flash of skin while getting into her carriage. And she can always sing –there’s never the need for auto-tune.
The freshest take on the franchies, “A Cinderella Story: Once Upon A Song,” stars “Pretty Little Liars” actress Lucy Hale and will go straight to DVD this fall. This just-released sneak peek shows some beat boxing and awkward hugging — we wouldn’t expect anything less. Like the pop stars before her, Hale will sing (and play guitar) in this third installment of Cinderella stories.
But really, do we need another Cinderella? Yes, it’s a classic, but it’s not like any other famous princesses weren’t underdogs, too. What about Belle from “Beauty and the Beast”? Snow White? Sleeping Beauty? Come on, let’s shake things up around here.
The first made-for-TV production starred the flawless Julie Andrews back in 1957. Since then, the much-loved fairy tale has been told again and again, each time with the “it girl” of the moment as the lead. Anyone watch “The Bachelor” lately? No matter how heteronormative or antiquated the storyline may be, happy endings are well worth their weight in Disney princess gold.
The first modern pop star to play Cinderella was R&B singer Brandy, way back in 1997. Fairy Godmother Whitney Houston cast the girl best known as UPN’s “Moesha” as the sweet and demure Cinderella in a film made for Sunday night TV. Whoopi Goldberg and Jason Alexander also had roles in the movie. (Weird.) The film more or less bombed, with most critics insisting that “more is not always better.” Brandy can carry a tune, sure, but she was definitely a sleeker fit on FM radio. However, if the producers of this version slipped in a wildly appropriate taste of “The Boy Is Mine” during a Cinderella vs. the step-sisters scene, it may have done a little better on the Nielson ratings.
In 2004, Disney pop princess and singer/actress Hilary Duff had her own chance to play Cinderella in “A Cinderella Story.” The storyline deviated from the original masterpiece, as “Cinderella” was renamed “Samantha” and worked in a diner run by her evil stepmother. Prince Charming turned out to be her Internet bff, and the most popular boy in school. Fun Fact: Duff was 16 when the movie was in production. Prince Chad Michael Murray was — hold the phone — 22. Duff sings about half the songs on the soundtrack, loaning her sweet yet mediocre voice to the face of yet another Cinderella. Duff and sister Haylie cover the GoGos’ “Our Lips Are Sealed” on the soundtrack, which also features Jesse McCartney, Mya and the Goo Goo Dolls.
Four years later, Wizards of Waverly Place star Selena Gomez got to wear Cinderella’s crown. Straight to DVD, “Another Cinderella Story” was a film that had similar themes to Duff’s version, but none of the same characters. Jane Lynch played the evil stepmother. (Maybe this is where Lynch got some of her inspiration for “Glee” character Sue Sylvester?) Instead of a glass slipper to align Cinderella with her Prince Charming, the two are united over an MP3 player. Yikes. The soundtrack was wildly successful, reaching number 8 on Billboard’s Soundtrack chart. “Tell Me Something” was the lead single from the album. Gomez’s music video has a Cinderella theme but no scenes from the movie, and the video is oddly sexual. Pole dancing with a broom? Hanging out under the legs of her an evil stepmother? Bippity, boppity…no, this is just wrong.
Allison Berger is a Philadelphia-based writer and a Pop music columnist for Reverb. Check out more of her writing here.