I am so thankful that the kids music options have gotten way cooler than when I used to babysit back in the mid-90’s. Back then, the munchkins were all about that creepy purple dinosaur, and “I Love You, You Love Me” was the epitome of “cool.” When my son was born in 2005, I decided then and there to institute an out-right ban on Barney (and the Teletubbies, because aside from also creeping me out, they engaged in way too much baby talk). I should probably explain up front, I don’t listen to top 40 music. My antenna was stolen off my car back in 2002, and I’ve yet to replace it. I’m occasionally exposed to popular music through various television shows, and while I do like some of it, I can usually take it or leave it. My music tastes lean more towards the Dropkick Murphys, NOFX, Rancid and so on. While Jake is a huge fan of punk music because he’s been listening to it since before he emerged from the womb, he also enjoys music geared more towards people his own age. Since I don’t want to force my own tastes down his throat, I look for options we can both enjoy, more or less. So far, only a few have really stood out as not only tolerable, but enjoyable. This isn’t an all-inclusive list, and if anyone knows of others that I may enjoy, I’m always open to suggestions.
Music For Aardvarks and Other Mammals- Back when Jake was still a toddler, he used to love when Noggin (now Nick Jr.) played “Move Your Feet” by former punk rocker David Weinstone’s quirky band, so I bought him a copy of “The Runaround Kid.” I recently won a copy of the band’s new CD “All I Want,” and we’ve been listening to it in the car for a few days. While I’m not as jazzed about the country-style Bathtub Soup song as Jake is, I do love the alternative music stylings of the song “All I Want,’ and we both love listening to the tale of “Mighty Milo” the superhero. Having such a wide range of music styles ensures that there will be at least a few songs that just about anyone will enjoy. Of course, it also ensures that a few might not resonate with everyone, but that’s why they invented mixed CD’s and iPod playlists.
Steve Burns’ “Hog The Ground” Everyone’s favorite Blue’s Clues human, Steve Burns (sorry Joe!), left the show ages ago and, as far as I know, now sings in his own alternative music band. Although his band was aimed more towards grown-ups, a few years ago he popped into Noggin for a special groundhog’s day song called “Hog the Ground.” To this day, it remains one of my favorite children’s songs. Also, Steve Burns is much more fun to look at since he left Blue’s Clues. Gone is that skinny, mildly nerdy guy who used to solve clues by finding blue paw prints left by a cartoon dog that, for the longest time, I thought was a boy dog. “Hog the Ground” is as close to mosh-pit inspiring as kiddie music gets. The link above takes you directly to the video on nickjr.com, and “Hog the Ground” can also be seen on Jack’s Big Music Show: Let’s Rock DVD.
They Might Be Giants- You know how you have that one magical summer that stays with you for the rest of your life? That one summer, usually when you’re fairly young, that is filled with adventure, a little drama, some teen angst, maybe a little trouble-making (maybe a lot for some of us)? For me, that summer was the one between 10th and 11th grade. I’ll spare you the details, mostly because it would completely ruin my current reputation as somewhat of a “good girl,” and because this is a family-friendly blog. Like all magical summers, that summer came with its own soundtrack, and They Might Be Giants album “Flood” featured heavily on that soundtrack. While most of that album is relatively kid-friendly, I was really excited when I found out that they did an entire CD of JUST kid’s songs, called “NO.” With songs like “Fibber Island,” “Robot Parade” and, in true TMBG odd-fashion, “I Am a Grocery Bag,” both Jake and I found a CD that we both love from beginning to end. We also have the “Here Come the ABC’s” CD/DVD combo, which made learning the alphabet a fun experience for Jake.
Honorable Mentions- While I don’t really count the Backyardigans and Jack’s Big Music Show as musicians per se, both do feature a wide range of music that, oddly enough, isn’t all that annoying. Granted, I can do without the country music episodes, but even the odd rock-opera style special “Tale of the Mighty Knights” was catchy enough that I didn’t want to burst my own eardrums to escape the sound. I’m really trying to get on board with Yo Gabba Gabba since they do occasionally feature good songs. Jake loves the show, but it freaks me out (in a totally different way than Barney did), and songs like “Party in My Tummy” and “Don’t Bite Your Friends” really don’t help much!
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