Journal: News & Comment

Friday, September 27, 2002
# 11:49:00 AM:

Kids and music

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Being Daddy notes that we parents usually delude ourselves before our kids are born and when they are infants. We think we can mould them into liking what we like. Somehow, our kids will be the ones who enjoy Bach or Rage Against the Machine instead of Barney and the Wiggles, for instance.

We're wrong, of course. Kids' shows and songs exist for a reason. But the "grown-up" music my kids like is nevertheless instructive, because they do like some. They demonstrate the universal appeal of the Beatles, for instance. But that's not because the Beatles' rock songs were so good (which, of course, they are), but because the band did everything. My daughters prefer "Blackbird" (a lullaby) and "Yellow Submarine" (a kids' song if there ever was one) to anything else in the Fabs' catalogue. They sing along to Nellie Furtado's "I'm Like a Bird," with its stuck-in-your head chorus and simple, direct words ("I'm like a bird/I only fly away"), for the same reason so many teens and adults couldn't resist it -- it's somehow primal.

So perhaps the way to get yourself a hit is to write a great kids' song, and then disguise it as something for older people. It certainly explains why I and so many others (sometimes secretly) love tunes that are, by any intellectual standard, mindless pap -- from the Archies' "Sugar Sugar" to Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head."

And we shouldn't expect our kids to like Bob Dylan, Outkast, or Midnight Oil anytime soon, if ever.

On another note, my wife, who is a high school teacher, just admitted that this week was the first school dance she's attended where she hated the music. And she wore earplugs.

We age.


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