If it wasn't for my brother, I would be so hopelessly out of touch with modern music. As it is, I'm still mostly stuck in the early 90s---have you heard of this fresh, new "grunge" music?
Thankfully, Tom will occasionally reel me back into this decade by sending me mix CDs with his newest favorites. He'll declare that life is not worth living if one does not know the magic of Kid Koala or Vampire Weekend or Say Yeah or other hipster groups fronted by young whippersnappers who are entirely Too Cool For School.
If it was up to me, I would pretty much listen to Beck. Yes, Beck. He's a genius. About a year ago, he did a show in DC. I didn't attend, I just read about it in the Post. I wish I did, though. You see, he played with his band, while simultaneously having a marionette version of his band perform in front of him. The same songs. The same dance moves. The same patter. One could choose to watch Real Beck or Puppet Beck. That's so strange. Beck is by far my favorite alt-rock hipster.
I made an attempt to have Joel named Beck. Thankfully, Paul intervened.
See? Who wouldn't want his son to be like Beck?
I digress. The bottom line is: I don't know anything about modern music. If I'm not getting music from Tom, I'm getting music from Paul (who, in turns, gets his music from NPR).
Today, for once, I felt like I was on the cutting edge of the music scene. Today, you see, I made a mix CD of kiddie music. I plan on burning these CDs and giving them to Owen's playgroup friends, just because it is so awesome. I managed to make a mix of eleven songs, all designed for the toddler set, and only one sets my teeth on edge. That, my friends, is a serious accomplishment.
Most toddler music is as sugary as a deep-fried mass of cotton candy. It makes my molars ache just listening to the off tune toddler voices as they caterwaul through "The Farmer in the Dell." If it's not saccharine, it's just dumb: "There's a Party in my Tummy? So Yummy! So Yummy!" Kill me now.
Owen's super-cool mix, though, includes the following artists:
Laurie Berkner: Not only is she the queen of kiddie music, she's also a good musician with a nice voice. It's coffeehouse music, except that she sings about dinosaurs and having pigs on her head. Because she has talent, I just listen to her voice and forget about the content.
They Might Be Giants: This former "alternative" group went kiddie a few years ago, and now has two albums for the toddler set out: "No!" and a concept album about the alphabet. I downloaded the song "Robot Parade" for Owen because...Owen likes robots.
Sheryl Crow: Ms. Crow sings the opening song of the movie, Cars, "Real Gone." It hasn't annoyed us yet, despite the fact that we've seen Cars about two gazillion trillion times.
The Wiggles: Yes, this should fall into the "annoying" category, but the Australian accents get my motor running. I downloaded "Hot Potato," because I like the part when the singer croons about bananas in that sexy Aussie voice. By the way, my friend Jamie would know the name of each Wiggle and his back story. Jamie and her family dressed up as the Wiggles for Halloween. All of them. Love, love, love her.
Bluegrass: If one must listen to "Oh Susanna!" it might as well be with a banjo background and voices right out of the West Virginia Hills.
The White Stripes: This group sings a song about two kids going to school and becoming friends. It's really sweet. You may recognize it from the opening credits of Napoleon Dynamite.
The Backyardigans: The music director of this kiddie show knows his stuff. He writes in all sorts of musical genres, from college fight songs to classical to reggae. I've included a funky little number called, "The Yeti Stomp." Who can resist the clever hook: (with James Brown-esque horns in the background), "Stomp, Stomp, Stomp, I'm the Yeti/Stomping that Yeti Stomp!"
And now...the annoying song: The theme song from Go, Diego, Go, "Al Rescate, Amigos." Ugh. I don't care that my son knows how to say, "To the Rescue!" in Spanish. How likely is it that he would be a first responder in Mexico? Or a superhero in Spain, for that matter?
While saving animals is nice, Paul and I both agree that the food chain exists for a reason. If the baby sloth is separated from his mother, that's the way things work. Diego is messing with the natural order of things.
And musically, the song is just dumb. It doesn't rock at all, and it's hard to dance to.
But Owen really, really, really likes Diego. If you saw Owen's face when he heard "Al Rescate, Amigos" blasting from the car stereo, you would put up with it too. He couldn't have been more thrilled. My mix made my son smile.
In my world, having a happy son is worth a lot. Yes, I don't know what the kids are listening to these days, but I do know what MY kid likes. My brother will just have to do the heavy lifting for me a little bit longer...and that is something I can live with.