Monday, May 31, 2010

Bugsy Malone soundtrack

Oh my, but weren't the 70s strange? Here's a musical about murderous gangsters and dancing girls in speakeasies, all played by children. Bizarre.

Anyway, there are some cracking tunes in this. "So you wanna be a boxer?", "Bad guys", "Down and out" (which I remembered the tune from since I saw it on my granny's tv as a child) and more. It's a bit uneven for kids I think - the quieter songs slow the momentum so that little attention spans wander. Isabelle loves it so long as we skip the quiet ones, her favourite being "My name is Talulah" (IMHO the worst of the 3 weak songs in the film), on account of Talulah's sparkly dress.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reggaeton Ninos Vol. 2

This is one of the worst sellers on the kids tunes site, and I really don't know why. A year after we got it the kids still go absolutely crazy for it, and even me and Niamh still love it despite having heard it approximately one bazillion times. What's wrong with you folks? It's kids singing reggaeton hits, and it's great.

Buy it (and other supercool danceable kids music) now on

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Final Funktier - Recess Monkey

Recess Monkey are 3 primary school teachers from Seattle, and Stefan over on Zooglobble calls them "the heart of kids music today". The basic template is, I suppose, kinda funky American rock and it's upbeat, danceable and loads of fun.

I have a few reservations about it - the melodies can be a bit undercooked - but the band is great (they sound like they'd be dynamite live), the arrangements are bursting with ideas and the words are funny (Isabelle especially relates to "Satellite", where the singer's younger sibling follows him everywhere). Good!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Music is awesome - Yo Gabba Gabba

Music from the kids TV show, which regularly has cool bands like The Melvins, The Roots, MGMT and even Devo as guests . There's also a house band of characters from the show.

On the Gabba Band's own tunes, the voices are quite squeaky-kids-tv and a tiny bit grating. I really don't know my genres well enough to be trying to describe the music, but I guess they're mostly the characters' voices singing over squelchy-sounding electronic tracks. And you know what? They're actually pretty good.

The guest artist tunes include songs from I'm from Barcelona, The Shins, Mark Kozelek, Of Montreal and more. My experience of kids music compilations from grown-up artists hasn't been all that good (see the review of For The Kids) but these songs are mostly very good, especially "Nice and clean" from Chromeo which is an 80s-retro delight (not that I normally dig 80s-retro, having grown up in the 80s, but there you go).

I like it! Good in an understated indie-cool kinda way.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery

Another from Classical Kids. The story this time is about an orphan girl arriving in Venice to play in an orchestra that's run by Vivaldi. At the end she's re-united with her grandfather who's been looking for her since her parents died and is (gasp!) a Duke. The story and acting both are very much overcooked - full of the Tragic Heroine lamenting her Terrible Fate - and you know what? I'm not really a Vivaldi fan, so I'm not particularly wowed by the music either.

Not the worst of the Classical Kids series, but pretty mediocre and not a patch on Beethoven Lives Upstairs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Putumayo Kids presents Celtic Dreamland

I (thankfully) don't have much cause to listen lullaby music much these days, but I still stick this on the headphones in work the odd time. Don't be put off by the title, it's a really good collection of quiet Scots / Irish music - consistently good all the way through, and really spine-tingling in places.

Buy it, and other lullaby music, here on (where it's one of my best sellers)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Putumayo Kids presents Caribbean Playgound

A collection of tunes in a variety of Caribbean genres - reggae, ska, soca, zouk and others I can't put a name to, but, oddly, without anything you might call "Latin". There's one amazing song - Asheba's "Little Anansy" (just bass, a tiny bit of guitar, Asheba's voice and an irresistibly danceable drum track) - and a handful of decent ones, but a lot of pretty undistinguished genre music too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Aladdin soundtrack

There are three good songs on this - the two sung by the genie (played by Robin Williams) and Aladdin's "One Jump Ahead". Then there's the Bond-theme-esque "Arabian Nights", which is really only a fragment, and the awful "A whole new world" which is soppy and cloying and reminds me of the Eurovision.

The rest is underscore, and pretty good. Like "The Little Mermaid" soundtrack it's quite stagey-sounding, but if you can get past that the songs (apart from "A whole new world", which succeeds in putting me off the whole CD) are decent and it's worth a listen.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mary Poppins Soundtrack

They played "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" on the radio in work yesterday, which prompted me to listen to this again. It's a masterclass in old-school professional songwriting, performed with relish by a cast who sound like they're having the time of their lives. An honest-to-goodness children's classic

Buy the Mary Poppins soundtrack, and other kids film / tv music, here on

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pop Fly - Justin Roberts

Whoa! This guy sure knows how to write a melody. The title track is first, an upbeat tune about the difficulties of concentrating on your baseball-playing when there are loads of interesting things around you to look at like dandelions and clouds. It's catchy indie-rock-ish fun (reminding me a tiny bit of Weezer) and then BANG the chorus hits and the horns kick in and you know you're in for a treat.

The lyrics are mostly very suburban America, with baseball and "crossing guards" and "kickboards", but you can still find plenty that's relevant to a rural Irish child - like "Henrietta's Hair" about a girl who hates getting her hair brushed (I know you can't read much yet Isabelle, but this is directed at you), and "Giant Butterflies" about a kid's anxiety on the first day at school The band is top-notch, the recording is great and boy does Justin Roberts have the tunes. A first-class kids record.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Green Golly and her Golden Flute

A story based on Rapunzel where Rapunzel is called Green Golly and instead of singing she plays classical music on a golden flute the witch who imprisoned her gave to her, and eventually takes control of her own destiny the way every modern girl should :)

I often complain about kids stories being over-acted but this is gloriously over-acted and therefore very funny. The music is great too - Mozart, Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov (guess which tune?) and more arranged for flute or flute-and-guitar. It's performed really well and the pieces are short and entertaining and don't get in the way.

Isabelle likes it too. She arrived home from a birthday party on Saturday saying "uuuurgh! I feel sick! I ate too many sweets!" so all she was fit to do was sit on the armchair and whinge. This kept her quiet for a while, except for the occasional shout at me when I was making too much noise cooking the dinner, and then she insisted on bringing the CD cover to bed with her to pore over.

Thumbs up!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Here come the ABCs - They Might Be Giants

Not quite as good as its successor, Here Come the 123s, but still great. Playing quirky tuneful indie rock with vary degrees of funkiness, They Might Be Giants are probably the biggest stars in the kindie firmament and they deserve it. Upbeat, danceable, singable, clever and fun - what more could you ask for? A DVD of videos for the songs, perhaps? You got it!

(although again the vids aren't as well made as the ones for later TMBG albums, they're still fun and a good way into the music for the kids)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Swan Lake - Tchaikovsky narrated by Angela Rippon

On the occasion of Tchaikovsky's birthday, I'm listening to the suite from Swan Lake, with narration of the story by Angela Rippon. The music isn't as instantly recognisable as, say, The Nutcracker, but it's all good of course (although the performance is a little lackluster), especially the swan's dance which is amazing - so good it was covered by Madness! The narration-with-music model doesn't work so well on this one for Isabelle though, I think the pieces are a bit long to hold her interest between the snippets of narration. Maybe she'll dig it more when she's older.

Just in case you're interested, the suite from Swan Lake was actually the first thing I ever played with an orchestra (me on clarinet). So there!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Little Mermaid Soundtrack

This sounds very much like a recording of a West End musical, which I find quite off-putting. It's hard to put my finger on what exactly I don't like, but it somehow sounds "stagey" in comparison to some of the old-school Disney stuff (like Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book, say), and the performers don't sound like they're having much fun.

I have to admit the music is good - especially the instrumental tracks - but I can't say I actually really like any of the songs particularly apart from the very first ("Fathoms below"). Isabelle loves the movie, and really likes "Part of your world" and "Kiss the girl" and the "Ahh-ahh-ahh" part of "Poor unfortunate souls" (where Arial is giving up her voice to Ursula) but while I can see that these are well put together songs they don't really do anything for me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Song of the Unicorn - Classical Kids

A story set in Arthurian times (or at least with some of the King Arthur characters in it) about 2 children looking for unicorns so they can magically heal their mother of an unspecified but life-threatening ailment. The soundtrack is medieval and renaissance music.

What is it about the lesser Classical Kids CDs and people banging on about the power of "myoosic" in the stories? The music should speak for itself, surely, we don't need to be told how great it is. There's a scene here with Merlin conjuring up images of not-yet-invented instruments like clarinets from a magic fire and getting excited about "myoosic" that's particularly irritating.

I found this pretty boring - neither the story nor the music did much for me. Put it on for Isabelle in the car and turned it off half way through, and she didn't even notice.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Classical Kids Daydreams and Lullabies

"A celebration of poetry, song and classical music".

Hard to know who this is aimed at. There's some very classical-sounding lullaby-ish music, some of it sung by children, some "poetry" (rhymes) and bits of dialogue about going to sleep. Doesn't work as a lullaby album - too much talking! - and isn't really interesting enough to sit and listen to.

Thumbs down. Click here to buy better lullaby CDs than this one.