Hannah Montana received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who appreciated its overall production. It debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 286,000 copies. In doing so, it became Cyrus' first number-one album, the first television soundtrack to reach the peak position on the chart, and the fourth soundtrack from The Walt Disney Company to debut in the top-ten of the chart. The record has since been certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), having exceeded shipments of three million copies in the United States. The soundtrack charted moderately on international record charts, having reached the top-twenty in countries including Austria, Canada, Norway, and Spain.
Miley Cyrus (pictured in 2007) portrayed the titular character on the television series Hannah Montana.
During production of the first season of Hannah Montana, Cyrus commented that at the moment, they were focused on improving the series as much as possible, however recording a soundtrack for it was a plausible plan for the future. The series itself premiered through the Disney Channel on March 24, 2006, and became an immediate commercial success; with 5.4 million viewers, the pilot episode earned the channel the highest ratings in its history at the time. The following month, it was reported that an accompanying soundtrack and Cyrus' debut studio album had both begun production, the first of which was scheduled to be released during fall 2006. These plans were expected to capitalize on promotional efforts previously used for Hilary Duff, who had successfully transitioned from the titular character on the television series Lizzie McGuire into a career in the music industry in the early 2000s.
In the series, Cyrus portrays the character Miley Stewart, a teenager who lives the secret double life as the pop star Hannah Montana. She stated that "most songs for the first season reflect the show, with Miley or Hannah making sure the other doesn't get caught or whatever," opining that the tracks provided series producers with the opportunity to "make sure that everyone understood the characters". By comparison, Cyrus described later material used by the series as "more speaking out to the fans." The record incorporates elements of teen pop, pop rock, and country pop musical styles. Cyrus performs eight of its thirteen tracks, which are credited to Hannah Montana. Her songs "The Best of Both Worlds" and "This Is the Life" describe the double life that Cyrus' character maintains, while "If We Were a Movie" and "I Got Nerve" respectively address a romantic desire and "girl power".
The series' theme song "The Best of Both Worlds" was released as the only single from Hannah Montana on March 28, 2006; it reached number 92 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. Despite not producing follow-up official singles, several tracks from the soundtrack charted in the United States. The highest-peaking song was "If We Were a Movie", which reached number 47 in the country. It was followed by "I Got Nerve", which charted at number 67. "Pumpin' Up the Party", "Who Said", and "The Other Side of Me" respectively peaked at numbers 81, 83, and 84, while "Just Like You" entered at number 99. After being reissued, "Nobody's Perfect" peaked at number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Hannah Montana received generally favorable reviews from music critics, who appreciated its overall production. Writing for AllMusic, Heather Phares enjoyed Cyrus' deliveries of "cute, well-written songs", and added that the overall project was "sweet, starry-eyed, [and] utterly charming". Jennifer Axman from Common Sense Media shared a similar sentiment, appreciating its "upbeat girl-power messages" and distinguishing "I Learned from You" as a stand-out track for its inspirational lyrics ("I learned from you that I do not crumble / I learned from you that strength is something you choose /.../ There is no question that's a lesson I learned from you").MSN Music gave the record a 3.5 out of 5 stars, and listed it as an "essential album". However, Chris Willman provided a more mixed review, commenting that Cyrus appeared to "mimic Avril, Ashlee, and Britney simultaneously", and felt that the concept of leading a double life was "a nice fantasy for Brangelina, but a weird one to push on little girls." David Hiltbrand was also critical of the record, stating that its "generic pop" would irritate adult listeners, but acknowledged that it was "slickly executed" for appealing to its younger audience.
During the week of October 25, initial sales projections recognized Hannah Montana, The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance, and Once Again by John Legend as the most-likely records that would reach number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. On November 1, Hannah Montana officially debuted at number one with first-week sales of 286,000 copies, making a difference of 41,000 units more than The Black Parade, which charted in second place. In doing so, the record became the first television soundtrack to debut in the peak position and fourth soundtrack from The Walt Disney Company to debut in the top-ten of the chart. It remained at number one the following week with sales of 203,000 copies. Furthermore, the soundtrack became Cyrus' first of five number-one albums in the United States to date, having been followed by Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus (2007), Breakout (2008), and Bangerz (2013). It was eventually certified triple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for exceeding shipments of three million units. As of January 2014, Hannah Montana has sold 3,736,000 copies in the United States, becoming the second best-selling television soundtrack behind High School Musical with 4,878,000 copies. Internationally, Hannah Montana charted moderately on national record charts. It peaked at number 10 on the Canadian Albums Chart, and was certified gold by Music Canada. The record charted at number 23 on the Top 100 Mexico chart, where it was later recognized with gold certification. In Europe, the soundtrack reached number 14 on the Spanish PROMUSICAE, and was certified gold in the country. It additionally earned a gold certification in the United Kingdom.