Monday Morning Smile: "That Thing You Do!" - The Wonders

If you have a certain affinity for pop music, you probably have an idea of what the perfect pop song is.

For me, "That Thing You Do!" is one such (rare) example.  It's by The Wonders and... what's that? You've never heard of the wonders?  That's because they, er, don't actually exist.  Rather, they're the band at the heart of the 1996 movie That Thing You Do!, directed by Tom Hanks (and featuring him in a supporting role).  The movie tells of the rise (and fall) of The Wonders, creators of the titular song.  Unsurprisingly, the song appears many times in the movie, and here's the beauty of it -- it never gets old.

In reality, the song was written by Adam Schlesinger of the great power-pop band Fountains of Wayne, and featured lead vocals by Mike Viola of the the band The Candy Butchers.  Of course, in reality, the song hit the Billboard charts -- not as high as in the movie, but reaching #41 on the Billboard Top 100.

But ignore all that, and just listen with the family...

The Wonders - "That Thing You Do!" [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "Furry Happy Monsters" (Sesame Street)

I know, I've posted before about R.E.M. performing a reworked version of "Shiny Happy People" on Sesame Street.  I don't care -- this is such a joyful and funny piece, nearly perfect in every detail, that I still think about semi-regularly.

R.E.M. - "Shiny Happy People (Furry Happy Monsters)" (from Sesame Street) [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "The Church Usher's Dance" - Uncle Devin

Usually on "Monday Morning Smile," I try to find something that's not totally kid-focused, and so even though this is off Uncle Devin's forthcoming album Be Yourself, anything that incorporates the Soul Train Line gets an automatic "Monday Morning Smile" pass.  In about five minutes, Washington, DC-based Devin Walker (AKA Uncle Devin, natch) tells a story, gives a little insight into his church's history, and gets the whole crowd off of their feet.  Will this dance go viral?  Don't know, but we've been subject to worse viral dances, musically-speaking.

Uncle Devin - "The Church Usher's Dance" [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "Princess" - Big Block Singsong

Yeah, I know that Monday Morning Smiles are usually not kids' music, but I'm pretty sure you don't need to be a princess, female, or wear pink to get a kick (in the rear) out of "Princess," one of the most awesome songs from the fairly awesome folks at Big Block Singsong.  (Really, they've got a CD and a DVD worth checking out.)  This video features a heavy beat, awesome vocals from Stacey Kay, and a dragon pulling a wagon.  What, exactly, is not to love?

Big Block Singsong - "Princess" [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "Unpack Your Adjectives" - The Corner Laughers

Anything from Schoolhouse Rock is probably the prototypical Monday Morning Smile, something geared to both parents and adults.  So when the Hipwaders' Tito Uquillas mentioned to me that he really liked a version of "Unpack Your Adjectives" by the Bay Area not-specifically-for-kids band The Corner Laughers, I knew I had to check it out.  Sure enough, this live version of the classic SR track is sweet, highlighted by Karla Kane's vocals.

The Corner Laughers sometimes back up fellow Bay Area musician Alison Faith Levy, so they're no strangers to kindie, and while they're not writing kids music per se, most of their jangly indie pop would pass kindie muster, lyrically too, if not necessarily as verbose as George Newall's "Adjectives"...

The Corner Laughers - "Unpack Your Adjectives" (from Schoolhouse Rock) [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "Cookie-Tin Banjo" - Benjamin Scheuer and Escapist Papers

I've previously featured "The Lion," a delightfully-animated video from Benjamin Scheuer and his band Escapist Papers, as a "Monday Morning Smile."

Now I'm featuring "Cookie-Tin Banjo," a delightfully-animated video from Benjamin Scheuer and his band Escapist Papers, as a "Monday Morning Smile."  The song is a tender ballad featuring delicate fret work on the guitar, and the animation (directed by Peter Baynton based on illustrations by Nicholas Stevenson) is of a different, fuzzier style, but the upshot -- an achingly lovely portrait of fathers and families -- is the same.  In fact, in its celebration of music through the generations, it's even more apropos for this site.

Benjamin Scheuer and Escapist Papers - "Cookie-Tin Banjo" [Vimeo]