Monday Morning Smile: "Little Changes" - Frank Turner

I have Bill Childs of Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child to thank for me becoming a Frank Turner fan.  It's a fanhood that stretches back maybe seven years or more, and it's provided me with a good deal of joy since then.  Turner puts on a great live show, which from my perspective is a result of infectious life-affirming singalong choruses.  (He also offers up a nice dose of self-deprecating humor.)

Turner's just released his latest album, Be More Kind, and while the arrangements are a little poppier than some of his past, punkier work, Turner's songwriting gifts are just as sharp.  Some of the tracks on the album are more political in nature.  This one, "Little Changes," is political, too, but let's call it "small 'p' political" -- nothing that an 8-year-old wouldn't understand (though they might wonder what "the Underground" is if they're not from London).  And the video features Turner embracing more of that self-deprecating humor he deploys in concert, albeit with far fancier footwork here.

Frank Turner - "Little Changes" [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "Heroes" (David Bowie) - Choir! Choir! Choir! feat. David Byrne

You will notice that this website has been... not so active recently.  That's mostly due to "real life" taking up most of my time.  The day job, parenting, a desire to keep myself healthy -- I value all of those things higher than this website.  But the minute I saw the latest post in David Byrne's journal, I knew that it would make its way here.

The post recounts Byrne's experiences singing with Choir! Choir! Choir!, a Canadian group which organizes public singing with formal arrangements.  Recently he sang David Bowie's triumphant "Heroes" in New York City with members of the public briefly rehearsed by Choir! Choir! Choir! and the result is, well, my favorite rendition of the song, and a reminder to me, of the joy and communal feeling that drew me to kids music its performers in the first place.

[Also, to say that I'm really excited to see Byrne on tour this spring is an understatement.  Even if there's no public singalong involved.]

Choir! Choir! Choir! featuring David Byrne - "Heroes" [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "Obsession" - OK Go

Time once again for the Official Band of Zooglobble's Monday Morning Smile, OK Go!  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the band released their latest video off their album, Hungry Ghosts, for the song "Obsession."  This one stars the band and 567 printers.  I don't think it quite reaches the giddy, hit-the-repeat-button-immediately heights of, say, "The One Moment," or "This Too Shall Pass," but it's a lot of fun regardless.

OK Go - "Obsession" [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: SpongeBob SquarePants, The Musical

SpongeBob SquarePants Musical cast album

SpongeBob SquarePants Musical cast album

There are optimists, and then there is the Eternal Optimist, SpongeBob SquarePants.  Indefatigable in nature, filled with energy, if there's anyone who doesn't need "Monday Morning Smiles" because they're already smiling each and every Monday, it's SpongeBob.  The Nick cartoon, which has been airing for more than 18 years, has been turned into a feature-length movie, and now it's been turned into a feature-length musical.

The musical opens on Broadway later this year, but the original cast album is released this Friday. Unlike a lot of musicals, the producers went to a variety of artists to write songs for the musical (with a single person, Kyle Jarrow, writing the "book").  NPR premiered the album late last week, and Linda Holmes wrote the review so I don't have to.  Of note is "I'm Not a Loser" by They Might Be Giants (no strangers to kids music).   But the highlight for me is absolutely killer "I Wish"-type song from Jonathan Coulton -- the song that introduces characters and their wishes which will be filled (or not) in the two hours to come -- it's called "Bikini Bottom Day," and it'll put a smile on your face as wide as SpongeBob's I'm sure.

Go here to listen, if only for 6 minutes.

Monday Morning Smile: "I Was Born" - Hanson

Just a great pop song from the band Hanson, a song that in its celebration of individuality and the need to be, well, you, could easily be a kindie song.  A video that features a bunch of kids (11 of the trio's 12 kids) -- this could easily be a kindie video.  The song isn't quite as good as the twenty-years-old "MMMBop," but what song is?  The fact that this new song is in the same ballpark speaks volumes about the earworm-y nature of the track.

Hanson - "I Was Born" [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "Everybody Gets a Kitten" - Jeremy Messersmith

11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs... cover

11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs... cover

I'm a longtime fan of Jeremy Messersmith, dating back to seeing him at SXSW in 2010.  At the time, he was prepping an album called The Reluctant Graveyard, a baker's dozen of songs about death and dying, not exactly the prototypical album you'd expect to be featured on a kids music website.  (Note: it wasn't featured here, though it's a pretty great album.)

A couple weeks ago, Messersmith released 11 Obscenely Optimistic Songs For Ukulele: A Micro Folk Record For The 21st Century And Beyond, an album of, well, that album title says it all.  The songs are 100% delightful and, even better, if you sign up for Messersmith's mailing list via his website, you can get a copy of a ukulele songbook for the entire album, a task I highly recommend following through on.  The songs are a bunch of fun to play, and they're not terribly challenging for anyone with the barest of uke skills.

While I think all of the songs could probably fit unchallenged as a cover on a kids' album, I thought I'd feature the leadoff track, "Everybody Gets a Kitten" because, you know, kittens. 

Jeremy Messersmith: "Everybody Gets a Kitten" [YouTube]