In the '10s (well, all 13 months of it), teen pop stars have been launched both the old-school way (TV shows and radio) and the new media method (YouTube).
Two of the latest -- YouTube sensation Greyson Chance, 13, and Nickelodeon's "iCarly" star Miranda Cosgrove, 17 -- teamed up for a bit of tween heaven Tuesday at the State Theatre.
Cosgrove has a burgeoning résumé. After learning the music ropes in the 2003 movie "School of Rock," she graduated to Nick's "Drake & Josh" in 2004 and "iCarly" in 2007. Now in its fourth season, "iCarly" is about a teenager who creates a webcast with her friends and they become famous. After doing an "iCarly" soundtrack CD, Cosgrove released her own album in 2010 with such star songwriters as Avril Lavigne and Ke$ha.
Chance sounds like he's living a real-life version of "iCarly." After a video of him singing a Lady Gaga song at a church talent show was posted on YouTube, Ellen DeGeneres invited him to sing on her show. Not only did his YouTube bit become one of the three most popular clips of 2010 (more than 40 million views), DeGeneres signed him to a recording contract and he's working on an album.
Are Chance and Cosgrove going to replace Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus in the hearts of tween girls?
To answer that question, I took Dani Dahlseid, 9, a rocker from Robbinsdale to the concert. I've covered countless teen idols from Shaun Cassidy to Taylor Swift. Having taken guitar lessons for 2 1/2 years, Dani can play everything from Ravel's "Bolero" to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird." She has written 15 songs, performed at two Guitarathons and attended concerts by the Jonas Brothers and Kiss. In short, she knows her music.
Dani didn't mince words after Chance's 26-minute, seven-song performance. "Seriously, I think, he's the next Justin Bieber. No doubt about it," she said. "His songs were meaningful. His words are powerful. He connected with the audience. He can play a mad piano. When he was singing his loud notes, it was cool. When he was singing quiet, it was beautiful. I think he's better than Justin Bieber, and that's pretty hard for a girl to say."
That would be premature for a critic to say. Chance was charming to the point of just being short of slick and confident to the point of just being short of overbearing. He's a talented pianist with a nice sense of dynamics (his arrangement of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" was impressive) and an emotional singer with a nice sense of drama. He's a natural charmer with a classic-pop sound who seems mature beyond his years.
By contrast, Cosgrove seemed like she was 17 going on 13. Her bubblegum pop was as generic as her vocals were anonymous. But it had a beat you could dance to. And Dani did -- for all 60 minutes.
"She put on a really good show," Dani said. "Her music was upbeat, funky and danceable. Her dance crew [two guys] is really cool. She connected with her bandmates and the crowd. She was really fun, and she looked like she was having a good time. She was fashionable, with her flashy and sparkly outfits. The confetti [at the end] was a good extra; the kids were picking it up, including me. She was way better than I thought she'd be. And her CD is one of my favorites."
Cosgrove's two new numbers, the current single "Dancing Crazy" and the unrecorded "Sayonara," suggested a more contemporary and mature direction. But, still, it's probably prudent that Cosgrove has applied for five colleges for the fall.
For set lists, go to www.startribune.com/artcetera.