Onetime Teen Idol Jesse McCartney Has Devoted Fans All These Years Later

Jesse McCartney performed at the House of Blues on Friday.EXPAND
Jesse McCartney performed at the House of Blues on Friday.
Isabel Arcellana
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Jesse McCartney. Remember him?

Listen to “Beautiful Soul” and it might ring a bell. Chances are someone you know had a poster of him, a CD of his or at the very least, a crush on him.

McCartney was the king of Radio Disney in the early 2000s, singing his way into the hearts of girls around the world. Maybe you even remember his appearances on Disney Channel shows The Suite Life of Zack and Cody or Hannah Montana. Ashley Tisdale and Brenda Song's characters swooned when he came to the Tipton, and even Hannah Montana herself had fantasy dreams of McCartney.

It’s been 10 years since McCartney’s peak on the Billboard charts with the release of “Leavin’” toward the end of his sweeping teeny-bopper fame. The same girls who cranked up his hits on their iPods and who ogled his pretty blond hair in high school are now well into their 20s.

Standing in line Friday at the House of Blues, it is clear that McCartney’s fan base has stayed loyal. People lined up in the cold rain to see him, mostly girls in their mid-20s, who must have grown up loving him.

Whitney Woerz, McCartney's opener, isn't quite old enough to have grown up with McCartney because she's only 18. But she impressed the audience with her voice, her inspiring message about mental illness and even a nice drum solo.

Once McCartney started singing, one man in the audience yelled to the singer.

“Keep doing what you’re doing bro!” yelled Tonie Sims, a 27-year-old man who drove all the way from Amarillo. In the couple of hours the crowd stood waiting for McCartney (who came out two hours after the doors opened, an hour after the opener), he went on and on about how McCartney is one of his favorite artists. And he knew every word to all 18 songs he played, even all the new songs most of the audience didn’t seem to have even listened to.

The whole concert was a sentimental reunion party for millennials reliving their childhoods. The screams were just as strong as when he was Disney’s biggest heartthrob. Now 31 years old and about to drop his sixth studio album, the first in years, McCartney is still killing it. The audience was delighted that, at heart, he was still the same teenage singer they grew up with.

McCartney truly owned the stage like he grew up as a pop idol — flashing smiles, twirling microphones, nailing boy-band-worthy poses. And his vocals were just like everyone remembered.

It was his first stop on the Resolution Tour, and he didn’t miss a beat. Except during costume changes. There were a couple of awkwardly long pauses between songs, and when he called up a girl from the crowd to sing to, things didn’t quite go his way. Asking up a “heartbreaker” to have her share her breakup story, he was taken aback when she said “I got divorced.”

"I'm trying to figure out how to make divorce fun," McCartney said.

But besides a couple of hiccups, McCartney was stellar at keeping the party going. He played more recent releases like “Better With You” and “Wasted” and some other tunes he put out after his Disney peak, but the best moments of the concert were when he busted out the oldies.

It was clear that everyone was there for the classics. The crowd at House of Blues was high-energy, but everyone went berserk at every familiar song. Opening with “How Do You Sleep?” and singing songs like “Right Where You Want Me” and even “Bleeding Love,” which he wrote for Leona Lewis, the whole night was the perfect singalong/dance party for millennials wanting to throw it back to 2005.

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