Every parent has a list of things that they swore they would never do when they had children. At the top of my list, even above using pacifiers and buying cereal with marshmallows, was kid’s music – especially those garbage Kidz Bop CDs. There was no way on this green holy Earth I was going to drive around in my car listening to such awful noise, exposing my kids to watered-down versions of good music. They would grow up listening to the original recordings of classic songs. I mean, kids can appreciate good music — I grew up listening to (and loving) Vince Neil and Brett Michaels singing about strippers and partying while my mom drove us to elementary school. I didn’t need a chorus of pre-teens trying to tell me that Dr. Feelgood was some kind of motivational speaker.
Years passed, pacifiers were (thankfully) used, Lucky Charms were reluctantly purchased. But somehow, I held firm to that last item on my list. Rob and I made mix CDs of real music we thought the kids would like, which worked for awhile. I’m willing to bet Phaedra is the only kid in her class who can identify Queen on the radio when she hears it and wishes she could meet Elton John. I quietly congratulated myself on raising a child with quaintly retro taste in music.
I’m not sure what planted the seed in Phaedra’s head. I think it might have been a combination of Nickelodeon and YouTube that showed Phaedra that Kidz Bop is a thing, and that she could listen to “today’s hits” (which she has never heard) being sung by KIDS!!! She started asking me to buy it whenever the commercial came on, and I always gave one of the vague parent answers that you give whenever your kid asks for something, and you’re not going to buy it, but you don’t want to directly tell them “no”:
“Well, you can ask for it for your birthday…”
“I don’t know. We’ll see…”
“You can save up your money if you want…”
Then I found myself in Target with Phaedra after The Crane Game Affair, with a copy of Kidz Bop 25 in my shopping cart and a frown on my face. I tried telling her she could only listen to it in her room, but before I knew it, I was driving to the store and playing DJ in my car. “Play number twelve, Mom!” “Ooooh, number six, I love this song!” After I listened to those asshole kids sing that “Royal” song about three hundred times, I figured that brain damage would settle in fairly soon, and that I had sunk about as low as I possibly could sink.
I was so, so wrong.
Here’s the insidious thing about Kidz Bop: you’ll notice when you listen to these songs that the kids enunciate when they sing. A lot. To the point where you can’t help but learn every single word to the songs. That doesn’t sound that bad, and in some cases, it’s quite helpful — for example, now I know what the hell Lady Gaga is telling me to do in the chorus of “Applause”. However, here’s the problem: you’ll learn the words to the most awful fucking songs, and then find yourself singing them when you hear the song and enjoying it. I listened to “What Does the Fox Say?” about eighteen times during a thirty minute drive with Bella, and it was about the same time that my ears started bleeding that I realized that I knew every single word to that song, and that I was jamming OUT.
But oh, it gets worse.
Upon picking up my children from Grandma’s house after a weekend away, what to my wondering eyes did appear? KIDZ BOP PARTY! It’s a mix of your favorite party traxx! And OH SWEET BABY JESUS NO, “The Hampster Dance” is on this one! Ooooooh! and “Gangnam Style”! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BUYING THIS FOR MY CHILDREN MOM.
So now, with two Kidz Bop CDs in heavy rotation in my car, I’ve become a case study in Stockholm Syndrome. During the first few weeks, I actively hated it. But something happened to my brain after listening to “Wrecking Ball” for the 105th time. I noticed that it gradually took me longer and longer after dropping off my kids at school to turn off the CD. Then Phaedra started trying to appease me by specifically asking for the songs she knew I liked. “Mom, let’s turn on #6. You love this song…” She was right, I did really like that Bruno Mars song. Except for when I told the twenty-somethings I work with how much I liked “Treasure”, and they shook their heads and laughed at me when I sang the sanitized Kidz Bop version, which made me look extra cool and young.
It’s alright, though, because I’m not really cool or young anymore. I’ve learned to embrace my new Kidz Bop overlords, and I welcome the release of Kidz Bop 26. I kind of wish they would do a Kidz Bop version of the new Eminem album so I could figure out what he’s saying. I mean, I really like it, but he raps too fast. Also, FYI, using the phrase “he raps too fast” is a sign that you have become too old to listen to rap.
I mean, look at me. I SAW IRON MAIDEN LIVE IN CONCERT, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. What the hell has happened to me?
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