The latest in kid’s music
The word on celebrity sing-alongs: Waylon’s tribute to kid sisters; Richie Havens sings to save the earth; and tunes from the Full House twins. Plus, other rousing music for kids’ ears.
AGES 1 TO 3
Bethie’s Really Silly Songs About Animals Bethie No false advertising here: These are really silly songs. To wit, the titles ”At the Codfish Ball” and ”Ivana the Iguana.” all are studied blends of good humor and zesty melody, accompanied by a bevy of horns and strings. Bethie is currently working on other albums with silly songs about numbers and food. B+ —Anne Reeks
Rock ‘N’ Lull, Vol. 1 Dimit These word-free, blissed-out renditions of bell-bottom-era classics such as ”Stairway to Heaven” and ”Sweet Baby James” are more rock-a-bye than rock & roll. Although they’re a cut above elevator music, the same synthetic dullness prevails. C+ —AR
AGES 3 TO 6
Brother for Sale Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen The immensely popular twins who alternate playing the impish Michelle on TV’s Full House make their recording debut with lots of peppy songs that only occasionally lapse into the wincingly cute. Given the twins’ celebrity status, this could have been a cheap exploitation effort; it ain’t. B+ —Ken Tucker
Put On Your Green Shoes Various artists Another day, another celebrity do-gooder album. Happily, lofty ideals and wonderful music coexist in this eco-minded effort that benefits two environmental groups and Save the Children. Songs by Willie Nelson, Indigo Girls, and Richie Havens eclipse the grating title song and a hokey spoken interlude. B —AR
AGES 6 TO 9
Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals and Dirt Waylon Jennings Who would have thought that veteran country singer and legendary carouser Waylon Jennings could have fashioned such an utterly appealing, old-fashioned children’s album? Without ever mentioning barroom brawls, fast cars, or heartbreaking women, Jennings casually strums his guitar, tells tall tales, and sings the praise of…dirt. A- —KT
Family Garden John McCutcheon Folksinger John McCutcheon clearly knows how to craft a song that’s more than just a catchy chorus, but here his snoozy melodies too often exhaust his lively lyrics. When he’s more playful, as he is on half the album, he’s an eloquent charmer. B- —KT
Better or Verse
You think kids say the darnedest things? Listen closely to a few other children’s musicians, and you just might change your tune. Here are our awards for the goofiest song lyrics of the recent past.
Best Diet-Destroying Sing-Along
”Crunchy munchy cookies/ Crunch, crunch, crunch/ Crunch, crunch, crunch/ Yum, yum, yum, yum/ Yum, yum, yum, yum” (Paul Zims, ”The Kooky-Cookie Song”).
Most Convincing Ad for Martial Arts
”When you exercise/ Do not compromise./ Just feel the heat/ Of the karate beat!/ Hey, it’s karate for kids!/ Karate for kids/ Hey, it’s karate for kids!/ Karate for kids!” (Kevin Anderson, ”Karate for Kids”).
Strangest Use of Pets
”Peter’s little Pekinese in blowin’ in the breeze/ See Suzy’s little Siamese drip-drying in a tree” (Norman Foote, ”Raining Cats and Dogs”).
Sincerest Ode to Shrubbery
”Tree, tree, tree/ We love you, yes we do” (Mister Rogers, ”Tree, Tree, Tree”). —Anne Reeks