The Top 50 Kids Songs of All Time: Songs 41-45

If you're new here, you can see songs 46 through 50 here. And there's still time to enter the contest. On to songs 41 through 45... 45. "Fee Fi Fo Fum" - Ralph's World: There are many great Ralph's World songs, but this I think this song is likely to stick around, combining simple lyrics ("It doesn’t matter what you look like if you got some Fee Fi Fo Fum / It doesn’t matter what you look like and let me tell you everybody got some") with an infectious melodic line. It will make for great covers many years from now. (Listen to the whole song at Ralph's music page.) 44. "Conjunction Junction" - Bob Dorough: The whole Schoolhouse Rock! series was a flash of inspiration, trying to use the medium of advertising to hook kids on learning. This song, like so many others in the series, took complex subjects and rendered them instantly easy to grasp. The cartoon visuals are fabulous, of course, but even divested of those visuals, tracks like this one are still models of songwriting thirty years after they were first written. (Listen to samples from the orignal show here.) 43. "Muffin Man" - traditional: Do you know the Muffin Man? The Muffin Man? On Drury Lane? The basis for a joke in the Shrek movies. Unsurprisingly, the song comes from England. In researching this entry, I learned that Frank Zappa sang a version of the song. The Ralph's World version I suspect is more conventional, but it's got a fun energy nonetheless. (Listen to a sample of Ralph's version at Ralph's music page.) 42. "Frog Went Courting" - traditional: In his liner notes to his We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions disk, Bruce Springsteen says this song can be tracked back to (at least) a Scottish tune from 1549. It seems to me that any song that gets recorded 450 years after originally written deserves some sort of spot on this list. (Besides Bruce, Bob Dylan, Elizabeth Mitchell, Dan Zanes, and scores of others have recorded the song. Here's a Pete Seeger version.) 41. "Rubber Duckie" - OK, my all-time Sesame Street performance is R.E.M. singing "Furry Happy Monsters," but I'm pretty sure that this song here will be sung many years from now. It has a timeless ragtime feel. If only I could find a rubber duckie that squeaked like Ernie's. (I'm not gonna post a listen link, because the one I'm enjoying now is squeaking past copyright law. You're smart. Google it.)

Review in Brief: Music For Tots - Little Miss Ann

MusicForTots.jpgWith experience singing in Old Town School of Folk Music Wiggleworms classes, Chicago-based Ann Torralba would seem a logical choice for recording a CD targeted at the preschool set. And sure enough her debut kids' CD as "Little Miss Ann," Music For Tots, is geared for exactly those kids. A folk-poppy blend of traditional kids' songs, covers, and originals, the 22-minute disk is notable for its arrangements, which take out-of-the-ordinary approaches to familiar songs. Sometimes these arrangements sound great, such as on "You Are My Sunshine," which is given a different melody and jazzy percussion background, or "Pirate Ship," which employs a tin whistle to fun effect. Other tracks' arrangements aren't as endearing (the rhythm on the Pete Seeger-inspired "Edamame" was just, well, too angular, for example), but Torralba gets points for at least trying something different. (And I particularly enjoyed the Torralba originals.) The disk is appropriate for kids ages 1 through 5. You can hear samples of all the tracks (and purchase the CD) here. With its reinterpretations of traditional songs, this disk would work really well in preschool programs. And while I don't think the CD will become the favorite of many families, Little Miss Ann's musical and lyrical re-interpretations on Music For Tots are good for the occasional sing-along for young families.

How Can We Lose A Record Label? We Never Had One!

Aw, c'mon, let's actually make it into 2007 before we start seeing examples of why the bloom is off the kids' music rose... This note on the Terrible Twos' website:
The record will be available in stores nation wide in March. It was supposed to come out in January on Kid Rhino but they folded. So, now it's coming out on Paquito Records in March.
Well, gosh, and Kid Rhino was just supposed to be ramping up their efforts. Worst. Ramp. Up. Ever. I'm trying to get some confirmation of this, but even if it has everything to do with WEA and nothing to do with kids' music, it's still sorta sad -- I was looking forward to seeing what a label with Warner's resources could do with the album. Still, for all you people looking for Terrible Twos' lyrics (seeing as I steadfastly refuse to break copyright law by posting 'em), coloring pages with lyrics for "Caroline," "We Can All Get Along With Dinosaurs," "If You Ever See An Owl," and "Oneplusoneistwo" are now available at the band's Myspace page. No chords, but this way you can sing along.

One Food Yosi Forgot: Trout

On his latest album What's Eatin' Yosi?, Yosi sings about all sorts of food. But not trout. To atone for the oversight, Yosi has posted an interview with Ezra and Keith of Trout Fishing in America. Oh, and there's a contest to win a new TFA CD or DVD, too. Hurry up, entries are due Sunday the 31st. (I should note that based on Yosi's recent set of interviews, I'm officially adding him to the sidebar...)

Are Jellydots Greasy? Are You?

Austin's Jellydots have posted a new tour date on their Myspace page -- the mysteriously-named and possibly-incorrectly-spelled "Greasypaloosa" in Portland, Oregon on March 11, 2007. Hmmmm.... could our friends Belinda and Hova have anything to do with this? (And I think "Palooza" has now officially entered the lexicon as the arts' world's "-Gate.") By the way, for those of you wanting to strum along at home to the fabulous songs on Hey You Kids!, song charts are now available here. Kinda appropriate, seeing how the songs were originally created to, uh, help teach kids how to play guitar. (Hey, how would they sound on ukelele?...)

Too Cool For Pre-School?

One of the comments I really liked from the Dan Zanes interview was the following:
As long as you know that it might feel a little funny at first, the main thing is that everybody throw themselves into it in any way they can and that they shed their inhibitions. That's easier said than done, but the reason I love being in the world of new parents is because they're really doing that every day. They're doing things they've never done before every day, they're in semi-embarrassing situations...
Which makes the attitude of Jon Glaser in this New York Times article a little depressing. If you're not willing to buy the soundtrack for Garfield: The Movie to get a song you really like (not your kid, you) because you're afraid of how it might look in the future, you've got a long parenthood ahead of you. (Yes, I realize attitudes are exaggerated for comic effect, but still.) Chris Ott's article for the Village Voice at least is honest about his attempt to influence his kid's musical tastes. He realizes that he's "programming his kid," but at least he seems not to be doing it because it's cool, but because he likes the music. (And at least he recognizes that "Puff the Magic Dragon" will play a role in his kid's musical experience, too.)