Itty-Bitty Review: Sing Along Piano Classics - Beethoven's Wi

While the concept of Richard Perlmutter's Beethoven's Wig is kinda genius -- take famous classical melodies and attach often-funny lyrics to them -- I'd kinda found the past couple entries a little lacking, at least compared to the first couple albums. It was the Die Hard of kids music -- starting out strong, but no longer essential.

Well, John McClane won't head back to theatres for a fifth time until February 2013, but Perlmutter is bringing back his own creation for a fifth time in the recently-released Sing Along Piano Classics. If this new album is any indication, you may want to keep that weekend free for moviegoing because Bruce Willis Richard Perlmutter brings back his "A" game.

As the title suggests, Perlmutter uses famous piano melodies as the basis for his "Weird Al"-like parodies, and many of them hit the mark. "A Piano Is Stuck in the Door" reworks Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" to amusing effect, while "Poor Uncle Joe" appropriately talks about death in Frederic Chopin's Funeral March. A death of a car, but still. Most of the melodies are very familiar, and Perlmutter tweaks that familiarity on that in some cases -- lots of nonsense syllables in his version of W.A. Mozart's Sonata in C Major, or a clucking chicken in "My Little Chicken." And his take on Mozart's "Alla Turca" (unfamiliar name, but a familiar melody), which he calls "Mozart Makes Kids Smart," is slyly sarcastic ("Instantly / kids can be / the Little Einsteins we expect now / Did you know / with more Mozart / there'd be no child left behind?").

Given the occasionally tricky wordplay, the album is most appropriate for kids ages 6 and up. The 45-minute album features both versions with and without the lyrics; you can hear samples here. Ironically, given his gentle mocking of the "Mozart Effect," Sing Along Piano Classics is actually a pretty good introduction to some famous classical melodies, pairing some well-loved (and in some cases, centuries-old) melodies with smart and silly lyrics. It's a lot of fun. Yippee-ki-yay, Mozart-lover. Definitely recommended.