Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Beyoncé Effect

If you are ever having a "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day," and you need to have a laugh and blow off some steam, I highly recommend going to YouTube and searching for "Babies Dancing to Beyoncé's Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)." It was my wife who introduced me to this, one of life's little joys. It's now a sensation and I believe one of the tiny dancers was featured on Ellen.

There are countless versions of this infant dance craze for you to enjoy. Here are my two favorites:

I have to say this next one is unbelievable and we should watch out for this young one on "So You Think You Can Dance" in a few years:

As a self-proclaimed music nerd, and a champion of all things early childhood I thought I would offer my thoughts on this phenomenon. Say what you will about Beyoncé's mind-numbingly catchy tune (I happen to like it, despite being a bit played out... such is pop music), there is something about it that gets infants grooving. The video is starkly simple, the beat is infectious, and the hooks are simple and repetitive. The dance moves are a bit suggestive and the wardrobe is a bit revealing, but the message is one of empowerment and Beyoncé is not a rail-thin waif like many of the pre-teen pop stars.

To me this is a clear example that music of all types can be enjoyable, inspirational and important for even the youngest listeners. I think parents too often feel that they have to suffer through bad music because it is packaged in bright colors and marketed to kids. Here's the alternative:

Call it sour grapes. The Wiggles are the superstars of the kids' music world. In their hay-day they out earned Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman combined as Australia's most successful entertainers. Despite their success, I maintain that this music is lousy, unimaginative and though it may illicit kids to get up and move, so does Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)!

Do kids' artists need to wear creepy smiles? Does kids' music have to sound like a Lawrence Welk tune? When I perform I don't enact a forced, over the top persona. I treat children like human beings, and when a broad smile grows across my face it's because playing music for kids is one of the most rewarding performance experiences out there.

The Mike Brady Wrap-up: Okay, so I presented two pretty extreme examples of music that gets kids' moving. I'll admit that both have their draw backs, and at the end of the day I hesitate to be too harsh a critic. Making kids' music is tough, and I admire and respect anyone who dedicates their talents to this end. I guess my real message is that there is a happy medium between grown-up music with adult themes and kids' music that makes parents want to tear their hair out after the 1,000th listening. Believe me, if it has a good beat and a catchy hook kids will dance to it. As adults if we don't care to listen to the Wiggles on repeat, we have the power to encourage different musical tastes in our kids. That has been the goal of this blog all along, and that has been a mission of my music from the first time I picked up a guitar and rocked the preschool. So what do you get when you mix the beat of Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) with the kid friendly danceability of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes? I like to think it goes a little something like this:

Kid Quote of the Day: I think these dance moves say it all!

1 comment:

Anne Deysher said...

Yay kids! Moving and responding to music is so elemental and universal. We have several children in our preschool classes this year who do not speak much English, but singing and music "speak" to them. We are able to use music (including yours, Nicholas) to connect and just plain have fun!
There is nothing like a baby in a droopy diaper to tickle one's funny bone...