Welcome to the first Kid Friendly Music Awards

Published: Thursday, September 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 10:48 p.m.
Music for kids can be a minefield, full of saccharine choruses, ham-handed arrangement and cheapo synth accompaniment. When kids' music truly excels, however, it's magic.
Hence the first annual - and possibly only - Kid Friendly Music Awards, where we recognize some of the best, worst and weirdest kids music out today.
Feel free to write in with overlooked nominations, arguments and truly awful music to avoid. With no further ado, we present:
  • The Dave Barry award for booger humor: When a diabolical alien lands in an unsuspecting grade-schooler's nose - in the library, no less - the kid tries everything to quietly dispatch it. That's the central conflict of Trout Fishing in America's rocking "Alien In My Nose" on the album "It's a Puzzle."
    Honorable mention: Tom Paxton's "Woolly Booger" (on the album "I've got a Yo-yo") is a lovely ballad that follows the flight of an escaped nose goblin ("Is he crawling east or west/Is he crawling up your chest?").
    Sure to please the most discerning fan of gross-out humor.
  • Best imagery of a rhinoceros in a school cafeteria: Paxton takes this honor for "Don't be Rude to a Rhinoceros," (also on "Yo-yo") which details the various stimuli likely to throw a cantankerous rhino into a rage. Paxton crafts better wordplay than Eminem, with none of the foul language. Unless you consider "booger" foul language.
  • The not-so-evil empire award: The Wiggles, those wardrobe-challenged Aussies in the Big Red Car, have surpassed Nicole Kidman and Mel Gibson to become the top-grossing entertainers Down Under.
    At first blush, this is frightening, but as real musicians who write and play their own songs, the Wiggles deserve the adulation of their pint-size fans. Except for Capt. Feathersword. He's got to go.
  • Best portrayal of parents through a child's eyes: This one's a tie. We all see ourselves in the title track of They Might Be Giants' album "NO!" ("Finger pointing/Eyebrows low/Mouth in the shape of the letter O/ No! No! No!").
    TMBG shares this honor with Trout's hilarious "It's Better than That" on the album "inFINity." Therein, adults confess (tongue firmly in cheek) that everything kids imagine about the grown-up world is true. ("We have a chocolate éclair about as big as your head/Just before noon after we get out of bed.")
  • Best revival of classic children's songs: I've heard a fair amount of lamentation that the old nursery rhymes and songs are slowly passing out of knowledge. In some cases, this is a real shame, although I can't get too fussed about the gradual disappearance of "The Grand Old Duke of York."
    Plenty of musicians have taken a stab at reviving traditional children's music - with limited success. Notable exceptions: Spider John Koerner's foot-stomping renditions of "The Fox" and "Froggie Went a Courtin'," and Dave Moore's funky "Boll Weevil," all on the family folk album "Kids, Cars and Campfires."
  • Perplexing music phenomenon award: Kidz Bop, the as-seen-on-TV albums of current hits rendered by children, is now on its eighth volume. Adult singers handle the leading vocals, while a kiddie chorus offers backup on such questionably tot-friendly hits like Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."
    Somebody, please explain this to me. If kids like these songs, why would they want to hear them mangled by anonymous D-list singers? (No offense to the child singers, who are adequate, but the adult singer's reach for Bono's high note on "Vertigo" is physically painful.) If you have any insight into this phenomenon, by all means, send me an e-mail.
    Send your comments to Alisson Clark at scene@gvillesun.com.
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