Can We Bring Yesterday Back Around?

Depending on where you are from, you are most likely to be familiar with different versions of the song “About You Now” that were released in the late oughts. The original version, at least so far as I am aware, comes from a notable British girlpop group known as the Sugababes, who released the song to great success in the United Kingdom and many other countries. The song hit #1 on the UK charts and even ended up on the UK decade-end list, demonstrating its considerable appeal in the British music of that decade. Not long after that, the song received a slight rewrite to make the lyrics a bit more kid-friendly and were sung by a young actress and singer named Miranda Cosgrove, who was seeking to develop a successful career as a singer apart from being a lead actress on the Nickelodeon show iCarly. The song was her biggest success on the charts as a singer, narrowly missing the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As far as pop songs go, this song hits a particular sweet spot for me as a listener, and it’s one that makes me feel at least a little bit uncomfortable. There are at least two types of songs that I greatly enjoy listening to, songs that I can relate to on a personal level that I would feel comfortable singing, and songs that I would appreciate someone singing to me. It so happens that Miranda Cosgrove is one of those artists whose music (again, that music I am familiar with) tends to reside very heavily in the second category of songs, ones I enjoy because I like hearing someone sing them to me, because they express sentiments that I enjoy hearing from others. In this case, the song is a classic “I Want You Back” sort of song where the narrator expresses that she was dumb, wrong, and let her ex wrong and wants another chance to be together with him, having sorted out how she feels about him after having previously and foolishly wrecked their previous relationship.

This song explores the question of how it is possible to recreate the past in a new version, where at least one side and maybe both have grown as a result of the experience. There are some people who do not believe it is possible or desirable to give people second chances after first chances have been wasted. There are other people, and this song is meant to appeal to this group, that believe that some mistakes do not burn bridges or make it impossible to repent and turn around. This song at least does not present a situation that would make it impossible to give someone a second chance. Misunderstandings happen, and people do not always know themselves or know how to communicate their feelings well. To be sure, there are situations where people sabotage any chance at a second chance by destroying trust through cheating and abuse, but this song does not portray that kind of situation, but rather a case where someone owns up to mistakes and engages in healthy and appealing self-criticism in the not unrealistic hope of being given another chance.

The fact that this song is appealing is at least a little bit uncomfortable because the song was written by someone named Dr. Luke. While this name has not appeared often in my writing [1], Dr. Luke is someone whose behavior with female singers, most notably Kesha, has attracted a great deal of popular outcry, and serves as the context for one of my favorite songs of 2017. It is somewhat troublesome that Dr. Luke was able to powerfully appeal to a great many people through putting into the mouths of attractive women what men would want to hear from them. This is not an uncommon issue, in that Dr. Luke has written a great many songs for women that are appealing for men to listen to on precisely those grounds. Among the many female artists that Dr. Luke has co-written songs in this vein, of making music that men want to hear from women, include songs by such artists as Miranda Cosgrove (“Kissin U”), Katy Perry (too many to mention), Pink, Victoria Justice, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Jessie J, Becky G, Cher Lloyd, Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Nicki Minaj, Avril Lavinge, Doja Cat, and Saweetie, among others (this is by no means an exhaustive list).

However unpleasant the messenger of such sentiments may be, it does appear to be a genuine sentiment that occurs somewhat frequently within the career of Miranda Cosgrove. This mode of wanting to go back to a happier time appears to be somewhat of a trend in Cosgrove’s recent work, not that there is anything wrong with that mode. Whether one is seeking to examine the recapturing of fond times with a diseased dog in her performance in the Bastille & Marshmello hit “Happier” or one looks at her efforts with some of her cast of iCarly in reviving the show, which has been teased in some recent trailers, it does appear as if the desire to bring back yesterday in some fashion is a common sentiment that Cosgrove expresses throughout her work. And if the past is worth bringing back, why not dwell in that attitude often? Not everyone has the sort of negative nostalgia that leads the past to be viewed as an unclean thing that must be overcome at all costs, after all. For some people, the past is appealing, and such people dwell there often.

[1] But see:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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