Various Artists: For The Kids (Nettwek Records)

As Bart Simpson would say, “It is one of those songs that is supposed to be good for you.”

I have been thinking a bit lately about reverting to my childhood. Most of my friends will tell you this is futile on my part, having never actually left that world to begin with. I was a kid just a bit before “Schoolhouse Rock”; Zoom and Sesame Street hadn’t come out with any of their awesome hits yet. Instead, I was serenaded by Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo—not exactly Sinatras. On my turntable (some Mattel thing), there was usually a song about carnivores versus herbivores. As Bart Simpson would say, “It is one of those songs that is supposed to be good for you.”

Today, it seems rock stars are bending over backward to play songs for the little ones, and I am jealous! They Might Be Giants just released a disk specifically for kids (No!), and the trend doesn’t start or stop there. Currently making the rounds in my CD player is a hip collection from the Nettwerk Records gang. For the Kids features songs that, for the most part, won’t cause parents to rip their hair out—not a Barney or a Teletubby to be found. Standout tracks include “Willie the King” by Dan Wilson (of Semisonic), “The Hoppity Song” by John Ondrasik (Five for Fighting), and the irritatingly infectious “Snow Day” by Bleu. The songs on the CD never take their audience for granted, which invests most of the songs with an earnest appeal that makes them listenable for almost any age. The list of talent is also pretty impressive, including Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace, as well as Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, and Cake.

It is a treat to hear songs that try to do nothing more than make the little ones bounce about the room in that cute way that they do and, perhaps, urge them on to greater musical horizons. The point here is that music for the younger set can and should be cool, and these artists show it.

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