On June 20 2008, a little Disney Channel Original Movie called Camp Rock infiltrated dens and living rooms across the globe. Starring teenage heartthrobs Joe, Nick, and Kevin Jonas and a then-unknown Demi Lovato, Camp Rock follows a shy high schooler named Mitchie (Lovato) who dreams of becoming a singer-songwriter. Sounds simple enough. But what the writers of Camp Rock didn’t know was that their movie would shake a large contingent of teen and preteen Disney lovers to their core—and help kick off a dramatic dating saga that involved Lovato, Nick and Joe Jonas, Miley Cyrus, and countless other Disney Channel stars.
At first glance, Camp Rock is a fun, fluffy summer DCOM. Upon further analysis, it’s a treasure trove full of overlooked and underappreciated gems. After 10 years, it’s easy to forget why Camp Rock turned out to be Demi Lovato’s first stop on the road to stardom. So we thought we’d take the liberty of reminding you why, a decade after its initial release, Camp Rock still has a place in the hearts and minds of millennials.
Mitchie’s knee-length baby doll shirts. Caitlyn’s (Alyson Stoner) endless supply of colourful graphic tees. And, of course, the bangs. Watching Camp Rock serves as a stark reminder that, once upon a time, all you had to do to be fashionable was wear a bunch of layers. But it also reminds us that we’ve learned from our mistakes, and for that we are grateful.
Actually, we’re not sure whether or not people still said “the bomb” and “blingalicious” (both actual Camp Rock quotes) in the mid-2000s. Either way, watching campers and camp counsellors try to earn cool points by throwing out phrases like “holla” and “let’s kick it” is endlessly entertaining. And who can forget the fact that Camp Rock sort of popularized a phrase of its own in “What. Ever. Major. Loser.”?
From Shane’s passionate quest to find “the girl with the voice” to Tess’ (Meghan Martin) backstage post-Final Jam meltdown, everything that happened at Camp Rock was Very Important and Very Serious. Tess did anything and everything she could to secure the coveted Final Jam crown, and Caitlyn reacted to Mitchie’s dishonesty (she lied about her mom being a famous TV executive) with such intense disdain that she accused Mitchie of “drowning in her lies” after she slipped and fell on a bucket of water.
You know that guy who’ll bring a guitar to a crowded party just to show off the new original song he’s been working on? Camp Rock is full of that guy. But somehow the campers’ blatant attempts to show off and pull focus comes off as endearing rather than cringey, especially when someone decides to pour his or her heart out in the process. Mitchie’s “This Is Me” immediately cemented a place in the Disney Original Song Hall of Fame, but don’t sleep on the upbeat “Play My Music” or Peggy’s earnest “Here I Am,” either.
Let’s be real, this doesn’t just apply to Camp Rock. The eldest JoBro regularly got overshadowed by his two younger siblings, and undeservedly so. He was a talented guitarist, an integral member of the Jonas Brothers song writing team, and—dare we say it—an unsung comedic genius. Kevin Jonas probably doesn’t get more than five minutes of total screen time in Camp Rock, but he manages to steal every scene he’s in as Jason Gray, the dimwitted brother of Joe’s arrogant Shane and Nick’s sensible Nate.
Lovato may have only been 16 when she filmed Camp Rock, but damn could that girl sing. She’s obviously made a name for herself in the years since Camp Rock aired in ’08, and for good reason—she’s incredibly talented, has recorded four Billboard Top 10 hits, and continues to use her platform to discuss and destigmatize mental health issues. Even if you’re not a fan of the movie, we should all still take a moment to thank Camp Rock for introducing us to Demi and the star she’d eventually become.