Tuesday, July 11, 2006

They Might Be Giants

It's almost hard to say that They Might Be Giants produce "cool tunes for kids", because as cool as their music really is, there's almost an admission of a certain amount of geekdom to be a TMBG fan. They're certainly cool, but not in the usual way that the world and media defines "cool". There's an aspect of novelty that is automatically attached to music like theirs, and novelty isn't really all that cool, is it? Anyway, I've liked TMBG since their early classic album Flood. As bizarrely brilliant as their lyrics can be, and quirky and strange as the music can be, their songs are often very memorable, and that's what really matters to me.

In 2003, TMBG released their first album geared specifically for kids, called No!, but if the CD hadn't been labeled as a kids' album, I'm not entirely sure that many TMBG fans wouldn't have thought of it as just the next TMBG album. Other than some of the lyrics being strange in a kid related kind of way, it wasn't all that different than other TMBG music (which is a great thing). And certainly some songs from the earlier TMBG catalogue might have worked as kids' music, lyrically speaking, so it wasn't really an earth-shattering distinction.

When I first listened to No!, it was right after the few months when I had been scouring libraries in Buffalo for kids' albums, and so it struck me in an interesting way, as being more of a satire of kids' music. Having just heard every other CD of kids' music including some kind of "opposite" song, their "Lazyhead and Sleepybones" song seemed to be sort of a goof on that kind of thing. And "House at the Top of the Tree" was a bizarre take on the "add another thing each verse" song. "John Lee Supertaster" and "The Edison Museum" were satires of superhero and spooky songs. And there are more examples, but it's all done in a way that is subtle, clever and meant to work on the levels of being both a satire of children's music and also genuine children's music at the same time.

With the success of No!, TMBG released another kids' album, Here Come the ABCs, and a companion DVD. They have one of the best websites out there, so definitely check it out here.

1 comment:

S. Ware said...

I grew up w/ TMBG too. I first heard their kids music on playhouse disney they had short video clips between shows. I was like hey I knows that sound and OMG it TMBG.
Thanks for having your site for kids music and giving your opinion it helps us parents who love to listen to music w/ their kids but don't want anything to baby-ish.