There are singers, and there are entertainers. In the former camp, I'd put artists like Elizabeth Mitchell, whose interpreter of songs is rivaled by few in the kids music genre and who have glorious voices.
In the latter camp, I'd like to introduce Ashley Albert, lead singer, songwriter, and mastermind behind the New York-based The Jimmies.
Don't get me wrong, Albert has a nice voice and could be a very adept interpreter of standards, kids-oriented or not. But on her band's recently-released debut album Make Your Own Someday (Silly Songs for the Shorter Set), Albert's strengths are in thinking like a goofy 7-year-old and performing for said kid. (It's not for nothing that Albert's done voice work for cartoons and commercials.)
Watch this completely infectious (pun mostly unintended) for "Do the Elephant," one of the catchiest songs on the album, and tell me that the Nickolodeon/Nick Jr. corporate behemoth shouldn't find some show to feature Albert and the whole band on a regular basis. It did wonders for Laurie Berkner -- it could do the same here.
Kinda like a cross between Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang and AudraRox, except skewed at a slightly higher age bracket.
The songs themselves sound bright and tackle common kid-themes like clothes (the swinging "What's On Your Shirt" or the rocking "Cool To Be Uncool") and pets (the unusually-sweet-for-the-album "Taddy") with a variety of musical styles. Albert gets the double-word-score for combining a foreign-language song with a song about pets (in "Spanimals," on which I kept expecting Rob Thomas to make an appearance on the Santana-lite melody). And the album's opener, "What's That Sound?," isn't quite a classic name-the-instrument musical piece like "Mama Don't Allow" and "Peter and the Wolf," but it's pretty darn close. The rest of the band -- who, like Albert, have day jobs that indicate serious musical talent -- backs Albert with aplomb. (Whatever "aplomb" is.)
The album's not perfect -- Albert sometimes has a tendency to cram too many words into the lyrics (making them hard to understand) and some songs are just sort of "eh" -- but it's not for lack of talent or imagination. The silliness here will be most appreciated by kids ages 5 through 10, particularly if they have a "Weird Al" Yankovic album in their collection. You can listen to 4 full tracks at the band's Myspace page or samples from the whole album at the album's CD Baby page.
You may as well get Make Your Own Someday now, because eventually these songs are going to end up on some TV show somewhere. Then your kids are going to beg to you play The Jimmies over and over again in the care and rather than investing in some dubious technology that rips audio from a DVD video, you may as well just get the CD and save yourself the hassle. Recommended.