Thursday, June 12, 2008

Music For Kids At Heart (& Actual Kids, Too)

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a music-loving freak of a person; pretty much everything I do is accompanied by my own personal soundtrack. Music is on while I’m driving, returning emails, doing the dishes, taking a bath...and on and on. I’m that annoying person who wanders around the office humming, and suddenly sings some odd random portion of a lyric out of nowhere. So when I first began teaching preschool environmental educational classes, I definitely wanted to create my own preschooly soundtrack, mostly just to use as background music (during drop-off, pick-up, art, etc.)

After consulting various preschool teachers and moms (both modern & olden-timesish,) I uncovered a highly disturbing truth... MOST KID MUSIC IS TERRIBLE! (Case in point: the kid-show phenomenon The WonderPets, as pictured above... trust me when I say that they should be seen and not heard...) Sure, some of the kid music out there can be catchy & cute... but even most of the superior stuff is, at best... barely tolerable for adults. And let me tell you something else... I don’t know if the ears of professional kid-music reviewers have been forever ruined by the likes of Barney & CO,...but lots of this kiddie music is reviewed as being "grown-up friendly..." LIARS!

As with most poisons, my theory is that parents and professional kid-music reviewers somehow build up an immunity to the badness over time (sort of like the Wesley character from The Princess Bride...) Alas, those of us without continuous listening exposure experience the evil effects in their purest form.

Every so often, I use those rare kiddie-music gems (the uncommonly good songs about birds, butterflies and naturey stuff) as learning tools. Some quirky main-stream musicians have started making children's albums (artists like They Might be Giants, Lisa Loeb, etc.) and this trend is definitely a step in the right direction. In small doses, the music is actually great, and the kids honestly love it (and really, in the end, it’s all about the kids...)

Except it’s not. Not entirely. If I was going to have preschooly background music playing everyday, the songs needed to be stuff I really liked, too... stuff I wouldn’t mind hearing over and over (and over.) In order to preserve my sanity, and the shred of adulthoodiness that I possess, I wound up scouring through my CD collection, Ipod, and the Internet to come up with (NOT kid music that’s grownup-friendly but) grownup music that’s kid-friendly. It was a long process, yet I finally emerged triumphant, with a eclectic collection of superfun songs that seem to appeal to most tolerant breeding-aged earthlings & their offspring.

During drop-off and pick-up, parents often ask about said background music. And so, by popular demand, what follows is my favorites list (followed by some samples:)

Three Little Birds (Bob Marley)
Spinning Away (Sugar Ray)
Fancy Footwork (Chromeo)
D.A.N.C.E. (Justice)
Camel Walk (Southern Culture on the Skids)
Stand (REM)
Robot Rock (Daft Punk)
Top of the World (Shonen Knife)
Can’t Take It In (Imogen Heap)
All is Full of Love (Bjork)
Dear Prudence (Siouxsie and the Banshees)
She Brakes for Rainbows, Mesopotamia, Roam (The B52s)
Sailing (Christopher Cross)
Book of Days (Enya)
Edge of the Ocean (Ivy)
Extraordinary (Mandy Moore)
Blink (Plumb)
Spice Up Your Life (Spice Girls)
Groove is in the Heart (Deee-Lite)
Father & Daughter (Paul Simon)
Forever Young (Alphaville)
Little Miss Magic (Jimmy Buffet)
Moon Child (Cibo Matto)
Rainbow Connection (Sarah McLachlan)
Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)
Song Bird (Fleetwood Mac)
The Sunshine (Carma w/Jesus Wore Dickies)
Under the Boardwalk (The Drifters)
What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
Season Song (Kaisercartel)
All You Need is Love, Your Mother Should Know (The Beatles)
We’re Going to be Friends (The White Stripes)
With Imagination (Harry Connick Jr.)
I Will (Ben Taylor)
Fireflies (Faith Hill)
Fly (Hillary Duff)
Make Someone Happy (Jimmy Durante)
Moon River (Audrey Hepburn)
Following the Sun (Mirah and Spectratone International)

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