Monday, April 03, 2006

Who's This Blog For Anyway?

A couple posts worth reading:
1. Mrs. Davis' thoughts on this article from New York magazine.
2. Devon's thoughts on this article from the New York Times Magazine. (Registration required)

Before you begin, I warn you that both articles are very long -- the summaries in the blog posts are enough to give you a good taste of the whole thing.

Having said that, let's tackle the Wiggles first, then move on to the adults.

You've not found any Wiggles reviews in this blog, and you never will. Not because I dislike them -- I remember a Wiggles video we checked out of the library a few years ago. It didn't really interest my daughter, and it didn't really interest me. (It wasn't supposed to, I knew at the time.) And I can so totally see why they appeal to toddlers and pre-schoolers, my daughter notwithstanding. The simple colors, the simple songs. As Devon points out, the Wiggles are targeting the kids, not the adults, to the Wiggles' credit. I'd put Laurie Berkner in the exact same category (only on rare occasion does she slip in a lyrical snippet to amuse the adults). I think that's the case with most music targeted at toddlers and preschoolers. But when music is targeted at "kids and parents," that's usually just marketing hoo-hah designed to get parents to buy the CD. Only the most talented artists can create music that can engage a 4-year-old and a 34-year-old.

As for the adults, the "Grups," short for grown-ups, as the author calls them, well, I guess I don't feel all that warm and fuzzy about them. As I read the article, part of me thought "well, OK, this is just a New York-centric view of the world." And the rest of me thought, "you only think your (my) generation is different from all the rest."

It's not.

The Neal Pollack quotations are scary, though I've read enough Pollack to know that you can't take anything he says totally seriously. So leaving him aside, let's move on to a more reasoned quotation from another mid-30s parent:

"The point isn’t to raise cool kids. We want passionate kids. And I think that by us doing the things that we love to do, that models that passion for our kids.”

This is somehow different from what previous generations wanted? My parents were happy letting me sit in the corner with a stick and a rock? Maybe there is a difference with the current generation, maybe it's exactly that -- some parents do want to raise cool kids, to raise little versions of themselves.

But that's painting an entire generation with a broad brush when the characterization only applies to a handful of parents across the country. Most of the parents I know wear T-shirts on the weekends, maybe drink craft-brewed beer, and are working all different types of jobs. Maybe some of the music snobs listen to Bloc Party or the Arcade Fire. (Raises hand.) But we're living normal lives, making our way. And if we want to listen to music, we just want something that isn't going to drive us up the wall as we listen to the same CD driving to the library or to Grandma's or to preschool or to swim lessons or while we're sitting in the family room drawing with crayons. We're not trying to craft a child's musical background -- we're too tired and don't have the time.

I write this blog, reviewing songs because I listen to these children's music CDs a lot, almost as much as I listen to my Bloc Party and Arcade Fire CDs. Maybe I slip in the latest Spoon or Shins CD. But usually 3 or 4 of the other songs are Justin Roberts or Dan Zanes or Raffi.

So this blog is for you, the sedan (or minivan-)driving parents of America. You have control of the CD changer. Use it wisely.

2 comments:

Devon said...

For what it's worth, I've always (well, if we can consider since February always) enjoyed your site because you're very clear about the perspective you are writing from, and you write the most relevant and useful kids'/family music reviews out there.

Mrs. Davis said...

Excellent post! That article generated an incredible amount of discussion, it seems. I like your take on it, especially the NYC-centric thing - how true.