iCarly: Music From And Inspired by the Hit TV Show, by Various Artists
As far as a sound track album is concerned, this album has a lot to commend itself for. It features a blend of songs that are from the most conspicuously talented member of the cast, hit singles, and more obscure numbers, all of them framed with dialogue spoken in character by the four lead actors of the iCarly series written by showrunner Dan Schneider. While the skits themselves are generally short and full of bickering, which is not necessarily to my personal tastes, the conception of this soundtrack album is certainly worthwhile. It would be worthwhile to see this album’s approach in soundtracks be more popular in that there is a clear link between the characters of the show, acting in character, and the songs that are chosen for the soundtrack. And in particular I have to enjoy the way that this album ends in a rather meta way by having the characters explicitly talk about going back to the beginning, with the resulting encouragement to listen to this album on repeat. While that is not necessarily the most obvious of responses to the album, there is still a lot to appreciate about the way that this album was put together. Quite a few soundtracks have no obvious relationship between the music and the film or show and this album definitely manages to avoid that issue.
This particular soundtrack is divided into 29 tracks, fourteen of which are songs and fifteen of which are skits that are self-aware, at least at points, about this being part of an album. The skits themselves deserve to be talked about separately, and as is the case with most such cases the skits are generally inconsequential, though not entirely so. The songs themselves are highly interesting. Four of the songs are from Miranda Cosgrove herself, with standouts in the show’s theme song “Leave It All To Me,” featuring Drake Bell, “Stay My Baby,” and her most successful single, “About You Now,” co-written and produced by Dr. Luke. A later song, “Headphones On,” is a self-aware reference to her in-character older brother viewing headphones as both cool and archaic, I say as I listen on my headphones. A second group of songs are hit songs that are recorded in Nickelodeon mixes that change the lyrics to be less suggestive, including Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls,” which talks about being “in denial” rather than “suicidal” at the end of a relationship, Good Charlotte’s, “I Don’t Want To Be In Love,” and Avril Lavinge’s “Girlfriend,” featuring Lil Mama. The rest of the songs are generally good if more obscure, including Leon Thomas III’s “I Like That Girl,” Natasha Bedingfield’s “Freckles,” The Naked Brothers Band’s “Face In The Hall,” a cover of “Let’s Hear It For The Boy,” by The Stunners, Boys Like Girls’ “Thunder,” Menduo’s “Move,” and “I’m Grown,” from Tiffany Evans featuring Bow Wow.
The skits of this album (as well as the tracks by the show’s lead actress) are the most obvious connection between the show and the listening experience. Some of these skits deserve high praise. For example, the last skit which urges the listener to re-listen to the album is pretty inspired. Similarly, the show is wise enough to give character Freddie the last word in insight on what boys like, namely girls, before a song by the band Boys Like Girls, which is similarly an inspired conceit. Other skits are very clearly connected to the show itself, including the discussion of headphones from the character of Carly’s older brother before a song about headphones by Miranda Cosgrove and the discussion about how it is that the show begins with a countdown from Freddie before the opening song of the iCarly theme. Likewise, there is a reference to the fact that everyone hated Freddie’s first season girlfriend before the track “Girlfriend” conveys the same feelings in a less emotionally mature manner than Carly managed to do. Not all of the skits are good ones, though, and a few of them are quite uncomfortable, with one of the skits referring to Sam’s second toe, which I suppose is here because of Dan Schneider’s foot fetish, and another skit about building a bra that makes Freddie painfully and awkwardly uncomfortable and that fits into the show’s frequent tendency to make young actresses act in provocatively mature ways, which is a lamentably frequent aspect of contemporary youth culture.