These days it’s hard for a girl to stand out.
Miranda Cosgrove, the 17-year-old star of the hit Nickelodeon show “iCarly,” is part of an increasingly crowded field of tween TV actresses with platinum ambitions. It’s a category that prizes high-priced producers and songwriters over originality (which isn’t encouraged) and talent (which isn’t necessary).
Cosgrove’s new EP, “High Maintenance,” will sound familiar to anyone who heard her modestly received, similar-sounding 2010 full-length debut, “Sparks Fly,” or any other teen pop disc released in the last five years. Its lead single, “Dancing Crazy,” tries everything, all at once: the bratty speak-singing of Avril Lavigne (who co-wrote it), the stuttery electro-pop of Lady Gaga, the age-appropriate party heartiness of Miley Cyrus.
The title track is a crackling duet with a straight-faced Rivers Cuomo, who turns a workaday dance track about a Ferrari-crashing bad girl into a James Franco-like piece of tween performance art. Nothing else is as bad/interesting, though the ballad “Kiss You Up” offers up the suggestion, underneath its layers of sugaring and unnecessary hand claps, that Cosgrove can actually sing. It’s a wince-worthy ode to teenage neediness and co-dependence (”Anytime that you want me around /I’ll be there at the speed of sound”) that mothers might want to hide from their impressionable young daughters, but it’s also the only time on “High Maintenance” that Cosgrove’s heart seems to be in it, and it’s the only song that might actually need her, not just a generic pop AnyGirl from Central Casting.
Recommended tracks: “Kiss You Up,” “High Maintenance”