Monday Morning Smile: "Monster Went and Ate My Red 2" - Elvis Costello & Elmo

Yeah, this is pretty much as dorky-cute as you'd expect if somebody told "Hey! Elvis Costello sang a parody of one his classic hits with Elmo from Sesame Street!" Actually, amidst all of Declan's mugging, I think I actually prefer Elmo's backup singing ("a-oh!"). It's been floating around the interwebs for awhile, so you may have seen it already, but if you haven't, it's definitely worth your time. If I have to explain the reference, then you're probably not gonna appreciate the video anyway. Elvis Costello (w/ Elmo) - "Monster Went and Ate My Red 2" [YouTube]

Share: Free Music from Justin Roberts, Bloodshot Records, VeggieTales (and more)

FunForAllAges.jpgNot really sure what Amazon's been thinkin', but somebody last month must have said, "Hey, you know what would be cool? Free kids' music!" And, then, actually followed through on that idea, because now there are a handful of free EPs for the digital downloading, with easily 15 to 20 good songs worth your time. Justin Roberts leads the pack with his, er, Snack Pack EP, featuring songs from 5 of his albums. You probably have some of these already, but maybe not the earlier songs ("Little Raindrop" or "Billy the Bully"), and if you don't have any of them, then get over there pronto. The real find in the craziness is Roberts' fellow Chicagoans Bloodshot Records' Fun For All Ages sampler, which includes seven tracks from four fine albums, Songs for Wiggleworms, Wiggleworms Love You, Animal Crackers, and The Bottle Let Me Down. Do not hesitate in picking up this album, the Alejandro Escovedo track is especially lovely. But that's not all. VeggieTales aren't for everyone (particularly if you're not religious and you're listening to their Bible-based stuff), but their silly secular stuff can be fun no matter your denomination or lack thereof. Their Five Super Silly Songs EP is exactly that; it includes versions of a couple songs that were big hits on Kids Place Live, "The Hairbrush Song" and "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything." What's that? You want more? How about some Sesame Street? Their Amazon sampler has a more energetic version of "Ladybugs' Picnic" than you might be familiar with (but it's still good) and also features "What's the Name of that Song?" You can also pick up an EP from the Wiggles as well as a Cedarmont collection and a sampler from a Rockabye Baby-style knockoff called "Cradle Rock." Not my thing, those last two, but your mileage may vary.

Video: "Dance Yrself Clean" - LCD Soundsystem (with Muppets)

OK, it's not quite the brilliance that was "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down," but this is kinda funny. While that video was an official video for the band, this video for "Dance Yrself Clean" from the soon-to-be-defunct LCD Soundsystem is unofficial, featuring the Muppets (and Cookie Monster) playing a Beatles-like gig above a Brighton storefront. I'd quibble with some of the instrumentation (really, why not have the sole female muppet taking the Nancy Whang keyboardist role), but the slow burn of the track lets the muppets do various things. Note: It doesn't reach Avenue Q levels of puppet inappropriateness, but they do go clubbing, Animal and Cookie Monster clearly have had too much to drink, and Kermit the Frog behaves rudely to Miss Piggy at the very end. So what I'm saying is: Watch it yourself before watching it with the kids. [One other note: I'm heading out to LA for the EMP Pop Conference to give my presentation, "Pay Me My Money Down: Dan Zanes, They Might Be Giants, and the (Un)Surprising Resurgence of Family Music" on Sunday at 4:15. LA folks are welcome to stop by (if there's room).] LCD Soundsystem (with Muppets) - "Dance Yrself Clean" []

Itty-Bitty Review: Look Both Ways - ScribbleMonster & His Pals

Scribble_LookBothWays.JPGI'm not sure whether covering obscure Sesame Street songs is either foolish or genius. But that's exactly what Chicago-area band ScribbleMonster have done on their just-released new album Look Both Ways. Aside from the opening track (their cover of the show's theme song), the casual fan (adult or youth) is likely to recognize few (if any) of the songs here. What the band might lose from "Rubber Duckie" completists skipping the collection they gain from the freedom of putting their own stamp on some of the best songwriting for kids anywhere. One some tracks, you can't picture another band covering these songs any better than they are. On both "Loud and Soft" and "Stop!" the power-pop band hit just the right enthusiastic/giddy/slightly silly tone that will motivate kids to sing along and participate. This silliness also shines in the duet with ScribbleMonster (the, er, monster) and kids musician Steve Weeks on "Clink, Clank." (The phrase, "Right, I take this xylophone mallet," makes me smile every time.) They also provide distinctive covers of the slightly-disturbing (at least to my memory) "I Want To Hold Your Ear" and the sunny "Someday, Little Children," featuring Racer Steve from Princess Katie & Racer Steve on guitar. The songs are most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7. You can hear samples from the brief (26-minute) album at the album's CD Baby page or five full tracks at the band's radio page. I'm still not sure whether covering semi-obscure Sesame Street songs is foolish or genius, but it's hard to go wrong with folks like Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss writing songs and ScribbleMonster performing 'em. Recommended. Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of the album for possible review.

Three Sesame Street Counting Songs

I so enjoyed coming up with a list of counting songs from Sesame Street that I'm going to duplicate it by moving on to numbers. (No, I haven't decided if I'm going to do 3 science-related songs from the show next week.) First off, the show recently re-did their classic "Ladybugs' Picnic" video. This new version is done with claymation and features vocals from Langhorne Slim. But as you can guess by the fact that I'm not actually embedding that video, I prefer the old traditionally animated version and sung by Bud Luckey. It's like an old college t-shirt (or, if you're a kid, a well-loved teddy bear) -- the rough-around-the-edges nature of the original has become an asset. (I really like Elizabeth Mitchell's version, though.) "Ladybugs' Picnic" [YouTube]

Three Sesame Street Alphabet Songs

Given the sheer length of time Sesame Street has been turning out TV shows, it's not surprising that they have multiple alphabet songs in their repetoire. Here are 3 fun ones -- one very recent, one not too old, and one that if you remember it, you'll remember it from when you were a kid. First up, the most traditional version from Tilly and the Wall. The first time I saw this was a couple years ago on the actual show, and it was so visually and aurally arresting that I stopped what I was doing and watched the whole thing. It's bright and colorful and percussive and... just... happy. Tilly and the Wall (on Sesame Street) - "Alphabet Song" [Vimeo] (you can even download it at that link)

Tilly & the Wall on Sesame Street from Team Love on Vimeo.