When I first heard of Kidz Bop years ago, I thought it was a pretty stupid idea. Selling pop hits re-sung by children sounded like a bizarre way to get parents to buy music for their kids. Aside from being a slap in the face to the artists themselves—whether or not they can be called artists; it really does vary, I suppose—this practice is just another way to get yuppie parents to buy useless junk, telling them that though today’s pop music might not be good for their children, it can be transformed into something positive when portrayed with prepubescent vocals.
But instead of quickly dying out, the product skyrocketed, apparently, and now also features social networking, videos, photos, games, and plenty of other kid-marketed pop junk to last you more than several lifetimes. And it’s not even just pop. They have kids taking on the beloved monster ballads of my youth, which should definitely only be performed by their big-haired, loud-mouthed original singers. I suppose there is a lot of adult content there that grown-ups feel more comfortable about when it is delivered by the mouths of babes.
All I can say about this is barf; my child is six and we listen to all kinds of music. Rendering pop music useless by listening to it performed by children simply doesn’t fit into our lives. She does listen to some music sung by children, of course; she has nursery rhymes and traditional children’s music on CD and so forth. That’s why it’s called children’s music, though; it’s meant to be performed by children.
We also listen to lots of classic rock, oldies, classic country, Latin music, classical music, New Age songs, and yes, even some pop. “Born This Way” is one of her favorite songs, as is “Firework.” But I don’t dumb them down for her by buying them performed by other children; she is so much smarter than that, and it would also interfere with her musical learning. Music is way too important in our home to listen to in any way other than its authentic, intended version; if we listen to cover versions of songs (and we do), I make sure to tell her that.
We both love to explore Spotify and YouTube, finding songs that we love. One of her current favorites is to look up music from the sixties that was featured on television, such as songs by The Supremes, because it’s so different from TV today. In none of our adventures do we actively seek out songs performed by children unless they occur that way naturally.
I wonder how much money those kids get paid to sing, anyway?
Later, when you are listening to the soundtrack, talk to your children about the movie it's from. In this way, the soundtrack can have the extra effect of helping your children learn about relating memories to music and teach them little tricks to jog their own memories by relating certain things to certain songs. Start with these charming soundtracks.
"Three Men and a Little Lady" is a movie that is both timeless and very much of its time. Confusing? It doesn't have to be. Although the fashions and hip sayings are a bit 1980s, the classic story of an unconventional family who feels unconditional love for one another resonates very strongly today. The five-year-old "little lady" that the title references steals her scenes, and children just love the "three men" rap as performed by Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg, and Tom Selleck as Jack, Michael, and Peter. Other classic songs from the soundtrack include "Waiting for a Star to Fall" by Boy Meets Girl and "Always Thinking of You" by Donna De Lory, Madonna's long-time dancer, back-up singer, and collaborator.
Another great movie soundtrack that kids really respond to is "Annie." These songs are easy to remember, and they immediately bring to mind the spirited scenes from which they came. From "Maybe" to "Hard Knock Life" to "We Got Annie," you will want to sing and dance along as well, so be prepared for an impromptu performance between you and your children.
I've been watching quite a bit of TLC's Toddlers and Tiaras this holiday season. I'm completely addicted to watching the little girls in spray tans and fake eyelashes, ten-pound bedazzled dresses and fake hair wigs, staring at the screen with a mix of horror and disbelief.
The undeniable breakout star of the series is Arkansas-born six-year-old Eden Wood (and to a lesser extent, her mother). We've watched Eden dance as a warrior princess in the jungle, kiss her way to top titles and get signed with talent agencies. She's a really cute little girl, and she has the poise onstage of someone much older.
Off of the show, Eden is making pseudo-rap/spoken word music for kids. Her songs include catchy choruses and bright colors and mostly focus on becoming a world superstar or marrying Justin Bieber. One song called "Antz in Our Pantz" features Eden in street clothes with a bunch of other kids, dancing and talking about being young and cute.
The aforementioned song "Bieber Fever" has Eden speaking about a dream she had the night before that she--age six, mind you--and Bieber were married and adopted a bunch of children. Probably her most famous song is called "Cutie Patootie," which discusses Eden Wood's cuteness and celebrity. The accompanying video shows Eden performing at a mall in a pink, glitzy dress and a little pink top hat.
Since her celebrity flag started flying, Eden Wood has had a doll made of her likeness and a book called Eden Wood: From Cradle to Crown, a Life in Pictures published. She has appeared with Perez Hilton on Perez TV, and on various television morning shows. Eden has done more work before the age of seven than most of us have or will. She is even retiring from pageants because her celebrity takes up so much of her time, and none of the little unknown girls could really compete with her.
I really want to like all that Eden Wood is doing because she is so darn cute. Her mom also seems really likeable, and--although she probably is running the show--seems to give Eden a lot of choice in continuing with pageants and appearances and the like.
But the sad part about the whole thing is Eden's insistence on her own beauty and celebrity. Her talent, intelligent and charm--or developing these attributes--are pushed aside. Eden isn't immensely talented--just super adorable, and any sort of "beauty" in that's predicted by a six-year-old's cuteness isn't guaranteed. For now, it's just fun, but later?
Eden may--and most likely will--be discarded by the people who made her as she grows up. And then where will she be? Perhaps vying for Miss America.