Video: "Mr. Pickle" - Michael and the Rockness Monsters

Let's face it, the era of silly novelty songs is pretty much over -- really, the presence of the occasional "What Does the Fox Say?" is a case of the exception proving the rule.  The only outlet at this point is Dr. Demento who continues to produce a weekly online radio show featuring, no doubt, plenty of songs that are silly but not necessarily solely comedic in intent.

So I sort of think that Michael and the Rockness Monsters' "Mr. Pickle" (off Funny Faces) would be an excellent addition to an upcoming Dr. Demento playlist.  The song features the nasally ramblings of the titular character and his musings on his way to leading the pickle parade.  And that's about it.  No homilies about changing the world, or feeling good about yourself, or standing up to bullies.  Just a song about a talking pickle.  And now, a video that gives visual life to those silly lyrics.  Bless 'em, we need a few more songs like that.  And maybe Dr. Demento back on the radio.

Michael and the Rockness Monsters - "Mr. Pickle" [YouTube]

The Best of Kids Podcasts from April 2017

I realize that we're about two-thirds through May, but we're still going to attempt to regularly update my list of the best or most noteworthy kids podcast episodes,

Now, if you want to get the background on how I'm using the RadioPublic iOS app to publish these lists, feel free to go back and read my list of the best of kids podcasts from March 2017.  But otherwise, just know that you can listen to these specific episodes from the RadioPublic app or right here by using the widget below.

There were way more episodes I considered or listened to than the (admittedly arbitrary) ten-episode limit I'm imposing on myself.  (Yeah, I know, it's listed as eleven -- I've got no idea why that extra Brains On! episode is sticking around at the end.  Think of it as an encore.)

I've got a feeling that this will quickly become a sampler as much as the "best," strictly speaking, but I won't steer you wrong, I promise.  With that, let's begin with the list from April 2017!

(In no particular order)

But Why: How Do Butterflies Fly? [Tons of questions about flight.]

Brains On: How Do Pianos Work? [I featured a piano-focused episode last month, so I can't skip this entirely different episode out this time!]

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian: BeeBop's Family Tree [I'm sorry, I like Finn, but BeeBop is my favorite character. Probably your kid's, too.]

The Show About Science: Marching for Science and Extraterrestrials with Luoth Chou [It's not entirely fair that Nate is as good an interviewer, possibly smarter science-wise, and cuter than me.]

The Past and the Curious: Magic? Mesmer, Fox Sisters, Robert-Houdin, I'll See You in My Dreams [Glad that this history podcast (with some music thrown in) is now available here on RP. It's like magic!]

Ear Snacks: Extra: Tree Family (Happy Earth Day!) [A brief and occasionally silly discursion on trees.]

Stories Podcast: Soft: The First Dog (Part 1 of 3) [The first of a three-part series, a well-told story about the first friendship between human and dog.]

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel: Cargo [The first episode of Season 2 for this Peabody Award-winning show. Of course this makes the list.]

What If World: What if Legos were alive? [What if Legos were alive? Here is a different approach from what the LEGO Batman movie says.]

Book Club for Kids: Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan [Besides the episode generally, I like the fact that you can count to 42 by 7s.]

Radio Playlist: New Music May 2017

Summer is drawing nigh, and kids music continues to cross my doorstep (and iTunes and Spotify and Bandcamp playlists).  Ten songs, less than 30 minutes, and if you don't like these -- well, I think you'll like a lot of these, but if the ratio is insufficient, feel free to check out the April list here.

As always, it's limited in that if an artist hasn't chosen to post a song on Spotify, I can't put it on the list, nor can I feature songs from as-yet-unreleased albums.  But I'm always keeping stuff in reserve for the next Spotify playlist.

Check out the list here (or right here in you're in Spotify).

**** New Music May 2017 (May 2017 Kindie Playlist) ****

"I'd Like to Live in Your Hat" - Froggins & Bug

"Shooting Star" - Shine and the Moonbeams

"Marco Polo" - Walter Martin

"Jack and Jill" - Matthew Valcourt

"Poppy" - The Salamanders

"Poopy Dogs" - Spring Bees

"Squirrel Fight" - Michael and the Rockness Monsters

"I Despise Flies" - Todd Downing

"Jump and Jive" - Dana

"Tipping Point" - Matt Heaton

"Plastic Duck" - Remington Super 60

Top Kids and Family Podcasts (May 2017)

I've missed a month since the last time I looked at ranking podcasts for kids. (For those of you interested, here is March's list of top-ranked kids and family podcasts.)  If you're looking for a podcast for kids, you could of course look at my list of podcasts for kids (inching ever closer to reaching triple-digits), but if that's a bit overwhelming, try the podcasts listed below.   Popularity isn't always synonymous with quality, but you could do much worse than dipping into the shows ranked below to start out.

The biggest news since the last time out is the release of NPR's first-ever podcast for kids, Wow in the World.  You can learn much more about the show in my interview with the show's creators, Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz, but unsurprisingly, even after just one full episode released this week, it's camping out at the top of the charts.

Even setting aside Wow in the World's arrival, this would still be a big deal sort of list, because there are 16 shows on the ranked list below, meaning 16 shows that appeared in the top 100 of both the iTunes and Stitcher "kids and family" charts.  That is a record by a wide margin.  The total number of podcasts listed below is 32, which ties the record high.  And there are 3 podcasts below which hit the overall iTunes Top 200, while in the Top 200 Kids & Family chart on iTunes, the total there (33) tied the record.  So there is clearly some increasing awareness of family-friendly podcasts.

As always: this is a blunt instrument, combining pure rankings from two fairly opaque charts, and for a variety of reasons has only marginal value as a measure of quality.  (Results compiled from Top 100 podcasts on iTunes and Stitcher "kids and family" charts on Tuesday, May 16, 2017.  Podcasts that appear on both charts are listed with numbers; remaining podcasts only appeared on one list.)  So: grain of salt noted.

Two other reminders:

1.  If you're looking for a list that has most (or all) of these podcasts, check out my comprehensive list of podcasts for kids.

2. If you're interested in the future of podcasts for kids, you might be interested in Kids Listen, a grassroots organization of podcasters and folks like me interested in helping high-quality audio for children thrive.  We're looking for other interested folks -- producers or otherwise -- to join in!

With that out of the way, let's get to the chart.

1. (tie) Brains On!

1. (tie) Stories Podcast

1. (tie) Wow in the World

4. Storynory

5.  The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

6. Tumble

7. Story Pirates

8. The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian

9. Dream Big

10. Story Time

11. The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd

12. But Why

13. The Radio Adventures of Eleanor Amplified

14. Peace Out

15. Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child

16. Short and Curly

Others (listed alphabetically): 1001 Classic Short Stories and Tales, Activated Stories, Barefoot Books, Book Club for Kids, Children Stories and Joyful, Disney Story Central, Ear Snacks, Family Folk Tales, Little Stories for Tiny People, Molly and the Sugar Monster, Official Adventures in Odyssey, Podcast Kid, Saturday Morning Theatre, Sparkle Stories, The Story Home, That Story Show

Video: "Txoria Txori" - Sonia De Los Santos

This song from Sonia De Los Santos, "Txoria Txori," is a wistful ballad about setting free a caged bird off her fine 2015 album Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León To The New York Island (one of my ten great Spanish-language kids music albums).  All else being equal, I'm probably less inclined to feature a video for a ballad than a rip-roarin' pop tune, even for a ballad I like, but exceptions can always be made, and so for this video I will.

Even though the album from which the lullaby is taken is primarily in Spanish (and English), "Txoria Txori" is actually sung in the Basque language of Euskera.  For the video, De Los Santos traveled to Spain and was filmed walking around Bilbao and other parts of Basque Country.  There are some truly lovely surroundings De Los Santos and her bandmates find herself in -- the whole thing could easily be part of a travel campaign.  Worth it for the voice and the glimpse into another part of the world.

Sonia De Los Santos - "Txoria Txori" [YouTube]