Ah, the joys of parenting a young child: the laughter, the love, the everyday wonder …and the migraines that come with 89,627 repeated rotations of Start Singing With Barney. For those who wish a black death upon the perky purple dinosaur, there are, in fact, alternatives. Below, an abbreviated guide to a new crop of kids’ music that appeals to grown-ups as well, with commentary provided by a group of pintsize pundits we consulted at a Manhattan day-care center.
MARY HAD A LITTLE AMP (Epic)
Featuring Madonna, Maroon 5, Moby, Lou Reed, R.E.M., and more.
Kiddie Reaction ”Sing Along,” by the Blue Man Group (featuring Dave Matthews), is dubbed ”too sleepy,” but the Dixie Chicks’ ”The Rainbow Connection” fares better. ”I love the Dixie Chicks,” Maggie, age 4, chirps, hoisting her chubby fists in the air.
SHE LIKE ELECTRIC (Pattern 25)
Bouncy, surprisingly sophisticated pop songs written and performed entirely by Seattle sisters Chloe, 10, and Asya, 12.
Kiddie Reaction High marks all around. The irresistible hip-hop ditty ”Rad” gets smiles and butt wiggles. ”It makes me wanna WAKE UP!” Christina, 4, hollers.
GREASY KID STUFF 2 (Confidential)
Part of a CD series culled from the popular WFMU children’s radio program of the same name and featuring garage-y tunes from artists like They Might Be Giants.
Kiddie Reaction Mixed. This audience may be slightly too young for Greasy material. Says Kevin, age 5: ”Um, I’m still deciding. Here, smell my shoe!”
HOUSE PARTY (Festival Five)
The wild-haired Brooklyn folkie and former Del Fuegos singer is often joined on his easygoing numbers by friends like Deborah Harry and Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir.
Kiddie Reaction Not too shabby. Carina, 5, and Maggie run in circles while Alice, 4, shrieks encouragement. Only Kevin, now fully absorbed in the business of shoe-smelling, remains unmoved.