When it comes to the genre of “children’s music,” I have one criteria and one criteria alone. I must be able to sit through it for more than half of a song without getting a headache. Unfortunately, I often find the genre of children’s music to be somewhat of a wasteland of commercial, repetitive, jingle-ish, art-deprived tunes that I can only stomach for a few minutes in our proverbial minivan. I know I’m speaking in generalities here since there are certainly many musicians out there producing quality work geared for children, and I hope to unearth some of those artists for you over time.
But until then, I’d like to introduce to you one of my favorite types of “children’s music.” It’s actually music from the very musicians I already listen to, who also happen to tickle the fancy of the little one strapped in the backseat. On the whole, I think what my child relates to musically are upbeat songs of a happy nature. Playful lyrics, upbeat rhythms, happy tones…these are the qualities that reflect my daughter’s personal philosophy that life (!) is (!) so (!) awesome (!). With a little investigation, I think parents can find a musician or two in their music arsenal who meet this “you win, I win” criteria.
For me, I had that “ah ha” moment as I watched Cake perform a new song from their upcoming album (to be released January 11) on a late night talk show recently. That was when I realized they would be a perfect band to introduce to my daughter. What I’ve always loved about Cake is their playful themes, dramatic sound, upbeat rhythms, and whimsical style; the very aspects that win my daughter over to music in the first place. Their sound is strong and confident, yet usually borders on the absurd and silly, as in the track “Dime” which tells the story of a dime rolling through the city or “Stickshifts and Safetybelts,” a whimsical song about safety belts.
Cake’s lyrics, on the other hand, are often decidedly adult in nature, necessitating a careful pick-through of songs prior to unleashing them on young, impressionable ears. I have taken the liberty of listing some of the songs I think are most suitable for kids. Some of the songs further down my list will be less “kid-appropriate” than the ones at the top, and you can decide based upon the age of your child and your level of comfort whether you find them suitable. But, on that note, I often remind myself that so many kids’ nursery rhymes are full of dark themes, and I’ve never been asked how Jack and Jill are doing after breaking their crown or why nobody could put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
So the next time you find yourself with a restless brood of children in need of a backseat dance party, blast a little Cake over the speakers. I say when it comes to children, “Let them eat cake”…and listen to it too.
Stick Shifts and Safety Belts:
Love You Madly: