I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it over and over, MIRANDA COSGROVE HAD POTENTIAL WITH HER MUSIC CAREER. Now, I know most people remember her from her Nickelodeon television shows from the 2000s and maybe a couple of random songs that played in between episodes. During this time, it was the most common thing for young TV stars to try to branch out into the music scene, which was popularized by Disney and which Nickelodeon tried to capitalize off of as well. If I’m being honest, most of the time it did come across as forced and unnecessary, where instead of appearing as a legitimate music artist, they ended up making rather generic pop music for twelve year olds. But there was something different about Miranda Cosgrove. If you take a listen back to her debut Speaks Fly and her music around 2010, it’s easy to say that it fits this mold and that might have been true back then. But after all this time, I find her music to be very well produced and well put together, and there are some pretty obvious reasons for that. And today, I want to specifically hone on a few songs from her 2011 EP, High Maintenance.
Just like with her debut album, High Maintenance was produced with the help of some household names in the pop music business. From Avril Lavigne, to Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo, to producers and songwriters Max Martin and Shellback, this five song EP was “stacked” as the kids would say. It even peaked at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 200 which is actually a pretty solid position considering this wasn’t even a full length record. And I can’t even say that this is surprising because it really isn’t. All of the tracks on here are solid pop songs and I find them to be ahead of the times at certain points, and with the help of people who have proven that they’re able to produce very likeable music, it’s no wonder this received that recognition. “Dancing Crazy”, the lead single, garnered probably the most attention but the two most important tracks out of all of them have got to be “Sayonara” and “Face of Love”.
Both of these tracks are built upon an electro pop sound that I find to be quite progressive for the time they were recorded in. To being, “Face of Love”, which features a dance beat with a cool guitar riff to accompany is something we hear a lot of nowadays but back then the majority of pop music was heavily saturated in electronic production. The song never feels like it’s trying too hard either; there are no major key changes or overly experimental pieces. The entire thing is incredibly balanced, as is “Sayonara”. This one is similar enough to be contained on the same project but also has it’s own identifiable characteristics that keep it from sounding repetitive. It’s slightly heavier in the electronic production but it doesn’t ever veer into heavy EDM territory, with a verse and a chorus that are distinctly entertaining on their own but fit perfectly together as well. Both songs feature incredibly smooth vocals and more adult oriented lyrics, with catchy verses and choruses that are impossible to dislike.
I know that might come as overly simplistic and obvious at times, but it’s really not that easy to make a good pop song, even though with Miranda and her team made it look that way. While most pop artists (especially the Disney/Nickelodeon artists from the time) went with a certain formula that they knew would work for a young audience, I appreciate that Miranda didn’t. The High Maintenance EP and specifically these two songs feel very genuine, not just in terms of lyrics and the person she probably was when they were recorded, but in the overall instrumental too. Never once does it feel like I’ve heard something exactly like this before or that there was minimal effort put into the project. And I think the only thing that would have made these tracks better would be if we had incredible music videos to go along with them.