Monday, June 30, 2008

The Kid's Music is Alright

Just back from another fun-filled drive between Cleveland and home, which means . . . lots of kid's music (with a few adult selections mixed in). So here is probably one of the only reviews of kid's music we will see here in The Room (or you might ever read). Those without teh kids (or dare I say, grandkids) are excused unless you have some weird desire to get insight about what happens to one's listening habits when this genre gets included in your collection.

So, let's just get right to the bottom line. Former Del Fuego frontman Dan Zanes absolutely owns the top spot for this music these days. He has more albums out there for kids than you can imagine with the newest one Nuevo York! just released a couple weeks back. What makes Zanes earn top billing for me? First, he just picks and writes great songs and none of them are pandering "Raffiesque schlock." He specializes in taking old songs and bringing them to light for the kids. Songs like Erie Canal, Don't Want Your Millions Mister, or even Polly Wolly Doodle (wow, can't believe I am going to say this all in public!) are great mixed in with his own kid rockers. On this new album, he brings Latin-influenced music to life, calling on a variety of artists from around New York City to help out (something he does on most albums). So, despite his "association" with Disney, which is a bit hard to swallow, I recommend anyone in the market for kid's music to sample some Dan Zanes. My favorite? Rocket Ship Beach.

Now, I know that none of you some of you might be asking, what about other artists? I can hear someone saying that They Might Be Giants deserve top billing. To you I say No! and no means no. Okay, in reality they definitely get high marks, but I am still waiting to see if they can consistently make this music, which Zanes has proven he can.

A couple other honorable mentions definitely go to Ralph's World and Justin Roberts who my boys really enjoy as well. I should also mention the compilation For the Kids which is hard to ignore for the simple fact that it starts with Cake doing their version of the Na Na Na song and has some other great cuts as well (although I would skip volume II and III).

Now I know there is another school of thought here that says skip the whole kids music thing altogether--just get them started on the real stuff, or feed them that Mozart so they are smart. Yeah, yeah. My kids get lots of all different stuff--which is why I have to go into their room if I want to find a Beatles disc--but I also think they have really enjoyed having "their music" as well.

So there you go--there is a whole lot more I could say here (including about bad kid's music to avoid), but I have probably gone on more than I should. I have been thinking that if I try to keep this blggy thing going,I am going to have to get better about describing music and what I like about it--strangely, I could talk about this music for hours without having that worry.


dr said...

There's a compilation of kids from a few years ago called 'the bottle let me down' that has some pretty good tracks. Also, I think Taj Mahal's kid's music is some of his best stuff.

CPS said...

Ah--you got me there DR--we have Taj stuff that is in fact great, but hasn't come out lately and so I forgot it.