In Celebrity Obsessions, Music, Peanut on November 18, 2010 at 7:39 pm

The other day when I went to pick up the Peanut from daycare, they were playing an unusual CD in the background.  Normally the music they play is very typical children’s stuff, nursery rhymes and Sesame Street jingles and the like.  Once they were playing a CD that sounded so incredibly familiar to me that I shocked myself by knowing all the words and the tune, and it turned out it was this fantastic Sharon Lois and Bram CD, a kids’ group they played all the time at my schools growing up but who I haven’t heard in decades.  That night I went online to order that CD for Peanut.  (What is it about wanting to recreate your own childhood experiences for your defenseless kids?  I’ve already ordered books that I loved that I plan to inflict on her, whether she is willing or not.  YOU WILL READ WHAT I READ, CHILD!) 

Anyway, so for a moment I couldn’t figure out what this new CD was.  Then I realized that it was contemporary pop music, performed by Alvin and the Chipmunks.  And by contemporary, I mean Katy Perry.  And these 12- to 18-month-olds were bopping happily along to “You’re hot, then you’re cold, you’re yes, then you’re no, we fight, we break up, we kiss, we make up …”  Next was a rendition of Pink’s “So What?”, in which an enthusiastic chipmunk chirps, “Guess I just lost my husband, I don’t know where he went.  I’m gonna drink my money, I’m not gonna pay his rent.” 

(They did see fit to change the line “What if this song’s on the radio? Somebody’s gonna die” to “Somebody’s gonna spy,” which raises two questions:  1) That’s the only line you felt might be inappropriate for toddlers?  2) Is making sense not a criterion for lyric alteration?  Also, another: 3) Does speeding up a track so it sounds like the Chipmunks automatically transform any tune into great kiddie listening?  If so, does that also work for an audio recording of, say, Mein Kampf?  Because now I am afraid.)

My distaste for this may seem odd given my interest in all things pop culture and my love for really bad pop music.  I soak up celebrity trivia and regularly spit it back out on whichever unfortunate person happens to be nearby.  If a song happens to be performed by some disposable 14-year-old artist, there’s a strong chance I’m going to be turning up the radio.  I used to have the good sense to be embarrassed by this, but no longer.  Now I wear my bad musical taste with pride!  It hurts no one if I enjoy singing Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” in the car, right?  (Although I admit the argument could be made that until Peanut can independently unbuckle herself from her carseat and remove herself from the vicinity, she could be considered a potential innocent victim of my musical proclivities.)

Over the past few years I have, however, made a conscious effort not to listen to music with lyrics that promote violence, bad language, gratuitous sexuality, etc.  If a song’s offensive, I change the station whenever it comes on.  The definition of offensive can be fluid and I know that, but I try to be as objective and consistent about this as I can because I think it’s important for my relationship with God.  So Peanut isn’t hearing much of that stuff at home with us.  And though I realize that at 14 months she has little to no idea what any lyrics mean, whether they’re “Jesus, lamb of God” or “That thong, th-thong-thong-thong,” one of these days she will start understanding.  And I don’t want that day to be the one when the Chipmunks are channeling Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U.” 

Sigh.  I have a plan, though.  Peanut’s a blank slate now, but if in a few years she dons a red leather bodysuit and starts brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack, I’m going to write a very sternly-worded letter to this CD producer.  That’ll show them.

  1. So, obviously I am going to have to take this opportunity to joke that Joey Lawrence’s music all sped-up probably still wouldn’t be appropriate for a kid since, really, whom–other than you and O–is it appropriate for? Also, once Peanut gets into the Olsen-twin target age (ages 2-5?), I’ll give your family back the awesome Olsen twin CD you gave me…when I was 24.

  2. Genius is never appreciated by its own generation. But the Olsen twin CD will definitely be appreciated by this household.

  3. Hmmm…simple observation by the hobbit in your life. Your statement “If a song happens to be performed by some disposable 14-year-old artist, there’s a strong chance I’m going to be turning up the radio” is interesting, although I don’t understand where the cuttoff of 14 years old came about. Case in point, I was brutalized by Willlow Smith’s “I whip my hair back in forth” in the car last week, remember. I sure do. I also remember that you made sure to let me know that she was only 9 years old.

    As an aside, “Willow” is another awesome fantasy-genre movie about a hobbit-sized hero that came out in the early 90’s. Insult to injury, perhaps?

    • Oh, Gandalf. Thanks to me, you have been exposed to so much good music — really, I should charge tuition for this cultural education. Maybe it will take another few years for its worth to sink in. And I don’t want to hear about any more fantasy movies. It’s taking up valuable brain space.

  4. Please do not speak ill of Joey Lawrence’s talent. One must listen to his song (singular) many, many times before fully understanding the depth and complexity of his lyrics. Much and I have listened to it at least a thousand times, and we still have not uncovered all the layers… but, I know that complexity is there somewhere…

  5. It is. Deep, deep, DEEP down there, it is.

  6. If dear sweet Peanut unwittingly picks up any tendencies that can be linked to Kesha (no I will NOT type a dollar sign), my objection to said producer will be a touch more vitriolic and may or may not involve the business end of a 12 gauge.

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