Sunday, July 02, 2006
My Rules for Good Kids' Music
#1 - If it's good, it's good.
I've come across all kinds of different kids music over the last few years, and that's really the only rule that seems to apply for me. Some songs that I like (and that kids like) are long, some are short, some are simple, some are more sophisticated, some are just a voice and a guitar, some are richly orchestrated, some are silly or "cartoonish", some are more serious or straightforward... What really matters is that the kids like it, for whatever reason, and hopefully the parents can at least tolerate it. But even that isn't something that really matters too much to me. If my three-year old girl loves Barney and sings his songs and comes up to me with "a great big hug and a kiss...", then guess what, it's good kids' music. I may not think it's really "cool", and I'm not likely to listen to it in the car when she's not around, but so what? It wasn't meant for me, it was meant for her.
I almost think there's too much emphasis these days being put on kids' music as something that the parents must also like. It's great that there is a lot of kids' music that parents do also like, and that's what I strive to create, too. But that shouldn't be considered a replacement or substitute for the more basic stuff that's made solely with the kid in mind. If we as parents only ever want to play music for our kids that sounds like Death Cab for Cutie or Radiohead or whatever we happen to like, then we're missing out on the sharing aspect of music, where the kids get to determine their own tastes in music. I think a kids' musical palette can and perhaps should include cool new things like Trout Fishing in America, Ralph's World and Justin Roberts, and also things like Barney, the Wiggles and standard kids classics like "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "Old MacDonald". And I don't even mean "If You're Happy and You Know It" with distorted guitars and punk vocals with fake British accents... but just regular simple versions. They love that stuff. And if only those of us producing music in the kids' music genre could consistently create stuff as memorable. Those songs have been played and replayed over and over for years for a reason.
Your definition and your kids' definition of what is "good" and appropriate is unique and personal, as it should be. So if you apply my rule #1 with an open mind, you'll never go wrong and find a lot of great music to like.