The rise of television stars and singers aimed predominantly at pre-teen girls has been prevalent in the last several years. Disney capitalized on a previously untapped market starting with Hilary Duff and then moving in to the poster child for the demographic, Miley Cyrus/”Hannah Montana”. Since that time, the market has exploded, with Nickelodeon being among other networks getting in on the action as well.
We hear about these stars on a near daily basis. Sometimes, we hear about their dating exploits, sometimes about other exploits (such as being caught on video smoking a substance of questionable legality). Sometimes we hear about the pressures of coping with fame, leading to a stint in some sort of rehab. What we rarely hear—or see—is any reports of how well they perform. Is the art of performance really that inconsequential in securing their fame?
An interesting look at that side of child pop/TV stars came to Orlando, Florida, on February 17. Miranda Cosgrove, on her first tour ever, came to the Hard Rock Live to bring her show to the pre-teen masses. The subtle art of performance was lost on an audience of screaming girls simply happy to see one of their favorite stars in the flesh, but that art was still taken seriously by those on the stags.
Cosgrove (or, at the very least, her music director Ben Romans) seems rather serious about her stage act. Cosgrove’s backing band was no less than the Click Five, a respected band in its own right. The music would almost seem as a backdrop to a pop singer, but Cosgrove’s show seems more cut out in a rock and roll vein. That minor point, along with other aspects both slight and obvious, makes the difference between an appearance just to please the masses and a performer serious about her art.
Cosgrove seemed to go through the motions on stage. While this could be written off as “phoning it in,” it has to be kept in mind that Cosgrove has very little experience on stage. Remember, this is her first tour, which seems to not only be an exercise in taking the act to an audience eager to see her, but a way to improve her game as well. Cosgrove has certainly learned some of the tricks of the trade already but is coming in to her own as a performer. Her stage banter is well-timed and her effort in being all over the stage and putting her heart in to what she does is crystal clear.
Cosgrove’s setlist combined what was to be expected with a few twists thrown in as well. She opened with the theme song to her Nickelodeon hit, “iCarly” and played some of her other hits as well. Cosgrove also threw in a few swerves for pop music fans. At one point, she played a cover of No Doubt’s “Just A Girl,” the type of song that fits her musical style and stage persona perfectly. She also played a medley of current pop hits at another point, including the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Got A Feelin’,” introducing it as an idea she had to play some songs “that came up at random on her iPod.” How random it actually was could be argued, but the effect on an audience of young girls just now getting in to music was undeniable.
The Click Five also lent to the feel of emphasizing substance over style when it was necessary (and playing in the background at exactly the right times). When it was time for Cosgrove to shine, the band capably backed her up. However, they also had its time in the sun, particularly during one of Cosgrove’s wardrobe changes when the band played an impressive version of The Chantays’ 1960s instrumental surf rock hit “Pipeline” that wowed a crowd that, by majority, was entirely too young to remember the tune. The fact they played it in Orlando-right near Daytona-should be noted in its favor, as well.
At the end of the day, the show, while not a blow-away effort, was still rather solid. The fact that Cosgrove is in the midst of coming in to her own is certainly to be noted, as she is getting to know her role on stage and fitting comfortably thus far.
All in all, Miranda Cosgrove’s show at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando was a 45-minute look at a work in progress that seems to be moving along nicely.