Death To Kidz Bop

I tried.  I really did. When my wife and I had our first daughter 10 years ago (we’ve since added 3 more girls), my goal was to keep them away from crappy pop music as long as I could. When she started kindergarten, I cringed when I saw that one of her classmates had a Justin Bieber backpack. Maeve had no idea who Justin Bieber was. However, she was aware of bands like The Ramones, The Clash, and Flogging Molly. As I’m a fan of punk, it’s difficult to avoid the occasional F-bomb (or in some cases, frequent F-bombs). Maeve didn’t understand the meaning behind a song like”Beat On The Brat,” but such songs were undeniably catchy, and she was happy to sing along to them. I was very proud of myself. Then she was exposed to Kidz Bop.

For those uninitiated to this wonderful series of compilation albums, kids sing covers of popular songs.  The first one debuted back in 2001, and peaked at #76 on the Billboard charts. Tracks on the first album include Britney Spears’ “Oops, I Did It Again,” and Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” For the purposes of this post, I listened to about 15 seconds of “Oops…”  The production values were mediocre, and even though Britney was a teenager when she recorded that song, this cover felt even creepier. Had the next couple of albums followed suit, we probably wouldn’t have gotten up to Kidz Bop 31, which is where we are today. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. When hardly anyone buys physical albums anymore, Kidz Bop 7 through the aforementioned Kidz Bop 31 have charted no lower than 12th on Billboard, with most of them debuting in the top 5. All in all, the series has produced more top 10 albums than legends such as Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. Granted, they release at least 2-3 albums per year, but it’s still an impressive feat. When it comes to streaming music, they have that covered as well, with a 24 hour Kidz Bop channel on Sirius XM.

On the surface, I realize that sanitized versions are more appropriate for kids, and if you read through the edited lyrics, it’s somewhat amusing: in the same manner as watching an R-rated film on a network channel. That being said, it was still eye-opening when I first listened to the actual version of the song “Timber,” by Pitbull & Ke$ha (featured on Kidz Bop 26):

The bigger they are, the harder they fall
This biggity boy’s a diggity dog
I have them like Miley Cyrus,
clothes off twerking with my
bras and thongs, timber
Face down, booty up, timber
That’s the way we like the war, timber
I’m slicker than an oil spill
She say she won’t, but I bet she will, timber

What. The. F***. This is the song my (then) 4 year old was singing along to in a constant loop? Kidz Bop 29 has a cover of Flo Rida’s “G.D.F.R.,” which features the lyric “Your girl just kissed a girl/I do bi chicks.”  Nope. Not playing that one anymore either. Now you may ask: “Why even let them listen to Kidz Bop?” When you’re sitting in the family truckster and you know it’ll keep them quiet, you do it from time to time as a method of survival. Sometimes the awfulness is necessary when you have four kids. That’s not to say that I don’t try to sway them in other directions from time to time. A couple of summers ago, a new band called The Interrupters released a ridiculously fun punk/ska album. Then a few days ago, my oldest daughter was hanging out with one of her friends, and started singing “Family,” from that album even though we hadn’t listened to the album in quite some time. She caught herself, and told her friend “it’s one of my dad’s songs.” Just for the record, I’m counting that as a small victory!

And the Timber-loving four year old, who’s now five? She immediately starts clapping along every time I put on the new Avett Brothers track, even though it was just released:

Kidz Bop is currently on tour, with stops in NH & Northampton in May, and Providence & Boston in June. I have not told my kids about this. I cannot imagine being in a building with a thousand screaming kids singing along to bad covers.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include at least one video from the group. Given that Guns N’ Roses have been in the news quite a bit lately, we’ll go out with a cover of “Patience,” off of Kidz Bop Monster Ballads (I kid you not)…