Music review: Miranda Cosgrove and Greyson Chance at Strathmore

Miranda Cosgrove onstage at Strathmore.
Miranda Cosgrove onstage at Strathmore. (Kyle Gustafson For The Washington Post)
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By Dave McKenna
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, February 10, 2011; 9:19 PM

Television shows have been used to launch pop careers since Ricky Nelson, and kiddie rock is once again in vogue. So now we have Miranda Cosgrove, the long-running lead actress of "iCarly," a sitcom broadcast since 2007 on Nickelodeon, hitting the concert stage.

During a Wednesday show at Strathmore, Cosgrove, 17, described how she spends free time on her first tour: "We have a Wii on the bus," she said. "It's been really fun. We have dance-offs!" Not exactly ripping a page out of Ozzy Osbourne's road chronicles, but perfectly in keeping with the image Cosgrove has cultivated on TV and seems comfortable projecting. The concert was sponsored by Neutrogena. She's that squeaky clean. Her hair is straight and fabulous, and she's got both the perkiness of a cheerleader and the diction of a class president.

Cosgrove won't ever have street credibility, but she oozes cul-de-sac cred.

"How you doing, Bethesda?" she screamed early in her hour-long set. The question didn't get as many shrieks or glow-stick waves as Cosgrove wanted, probably because only a small portion of the mostly grammar-school-aged audience knew they were, in fact, in Bethesda.

Cosgrove's stage set looked like a TV soundstage, very well lit and colorful, and nearly all of her songs sound like something off the soundtrack of Tom Hanks's "That Thing You Do!"; they're hyper-produced and about as indistinguishable from each other as the thousands of free samples of "oil-free acne wash" that filled tubs throughout the hall.

But Cosgrove's bubbliness and charm were enough to keep the fans shrieking. She told them she wrote "Kissin' U" about "a guy I really like." She did a medley of hits "off my iPod," but while covering the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling," Cosgrove made some age-appropriate lyric changes ("get off!" became "kick it off!"). The post-dumping tune "Brand New You," written for Cosgrove by hitmaking production team Espionage (the evil geniuses behind Train's "Soul Sister"), had at least one turn of phrase worthy of a country song: "It's never been better 'cause I found a brand new you."

For the encore, she let some fans come onstage and then brought out opening act Greyson Chance, a 13-year-old trying to launch a career with Justin Bieber's overflow, and all together they jumped around to Cosgrove's recent single, the Avril Lavigne-written "Dancing Crazy." Their dancing wouldn't meet most folks' standard for "crazy," but everybody appeared to be having a blast.

McKenna is a freelance writer.

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