I dubbed 2010 "The Year of The Ukulele" on my Facebook fan page. After giving two out as gifts (one to my nephew Miles and one to the famous Shane from Coconut Groove and People, Places and Things), and consulting with several parents who were planning to do the same, it just seemed to fit. Several popular YouTube videos featuring the tiny tropical instrument were making the rounds and that just sealed the deal.
It's now 2011 and I'm finally getting around to reviewing Didi Pop's newest album "Didi Pop goes to Hawaii." With snow reported in 49 of the 50 states last week, I think we could all use a little more tropical weather in our lives (evening Miami where my heater is churning away).
This album delivers what one might expect based on the title and cover image. Lots of ukulele, slide guitar and lyrics is both English and Hawaiian. It's always a challenge with a theme album to keep things fresh while not overdoing the thematic references. Didi Pop does this well by mixing things up a bit, and some of my favorite songs on the CD like "Hop-A-Loo," and "Mango" (a funky number with an even funkier vocal performance) are the less traditional tunes. It wouldn't be a tropical beach party without a touch of the Beach Boys. I hear some hints of "Pet Sounds" on "Kapalua Bay."
I appreciate that there are some educational elements to this album. "The Hawaiian Alphabet Song" and "The Keiki Hula" are a nice way to learn a bit about the Hawaiian language. The second track on the album, "Coconut Candy" tells the tale of a dog named Lucy who learns not to sit under a coconut tree. From personal experience, I can highly recommend caution around these tropical palms. My dog Lucy was sniffing around a coconut tree last month when it let a nice large one come crashing down to the ground. It was a bit too close for comfort.
The Mike Brady Wrap-up: As I listened to the album from start to finish, it really grew on me. As I mentioned before theme albums can be a hit or a miss. There are some sweet moments with Didi Pop (Deborah Poppink) and her children, that always warms my heart. The balance of different tempos and musical styles kept the pretty consistent ukulele strumming from getting stale, and the wonderful vocal harmonies in tunes like "Way Up High" are a nice touch. As a whole the album is well produced, and packaged from the postcard on the back cover to the coconut on the CD, if you need an escape to the Islands "Didi Pop goes to Hawaii" is for you!
Grandpa John Quote of the Day: "Two vacationers are having a heated argument on a beach in Hawaii.
'It's pronounced, "Ha-Wa-Ee,"' the first man insisted.
'It's pronounced, "Ha-Va-Ee,"' the second made countered.
'Okay, we'll settle this, let's ask the next stranger who walks by...
'Excuse my sir, how to you pronounce the name of this state?'
'Ha-Va-Ee,' the stranger said.
'Thank you!' both men replied.