Monday, July 10, 2006

Mick Jones, Children's Musician

So the family, or 75% of us, went to see Pixar's movie Cars this weekend. I was struck by two things during my time at one of our local metroplexes:
1. Yes, Northern Arizona really does look like that. OK, the buttes really aren't that car-shaped, and I'm pretty sure parts of Northern Arizona have "dark skies" ordinances that would pretty much rule out the bevy of neon in one scene, but other than that, yeah, that's pretty darn close. And, boy, would I like to be there right now.
2. In the previews before the movie's start, two animated movies for kids used rock songs more than 25 years old. One of the movies used a famous song by the Clash (my perpetually overcrowded mind believes it was "Should I Stay or Should I Go?," but it doesn't really matter). And my thought was, since when is the Clash kids' music? Now perhaps that tune isn't actually heard in the movie (preview songs aren't always included in the movie they're promoting), but between that and Ben Folds' cover of "Lost in the Supermarket" from Over the Hedge, and we almost have a trend. Perhaps there's a nice Christmas movie that will use "Guns of Brixton."

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't play the Clash for the kiddos on occasion, and I think the older kids might particularly appreciate what is, without a doubt, an essential rock album. Having said that, why can't movie producers use music that kids might actually... recognize? From a band that's released an album in the last 20 years? I mean, sure, maybe there might be a handful of adults who might decide to go to the movie because a preview uses a Clash tune, but doesn't that sell your primary target audience way short?

One of the reasons I've been writing here for so long is because I believe that "kids music" can -- and should -- engage kids on their level, in things they might be interested in, with voices they can relate to. That can cover a wide range of subjects and artists, some traditionally thought of as "kids-related," some not. And while London Calling is an awesome album, one I occasionally play on the stereo at home, it's not the first one I think of when I think source material for a kids' movie. It's a lack of imagination.


We're back to the rock this week, with a band you might possibly be aware of, an artist you're probably not aware of, and other stuff. Thanks as always for reading and commenting. And stay tuned, there are some cool announcements coming up in the next few weeks. OK, maybe they're not cool to you, but I've got a fairly low bar to clear.

Oh, and if you haven't read this post on whether or not kids' music is enjoying some sort of resurgence, you should do so.


liberaltruth said...

Ok as a mom of four I have seen both, and I have to say that while I agree the movies could feature something musically that the kids recognize there is nothing wrong with them learning our music! Shrek gave them some great music, and Over the Hedge after animated film again and again it is good to hear something I like...keeps me from falling asleep in the theatres and having my kids run off....

deb in sf said...

but isn't that what it's all about now? isn't that what every doggone kid's album sold on cdbaby has written as a tagline - "kid's music that the parent's wont fall asleep to while watching the 900th animated movie of the summer"?

Seriously, lack of imagination indeed. The studios need an animated movie music director (wanna move to CA, Stefan?) who has some and knows about music and is thoughful and smart. There's a consulting gig there for the taking. Like Chris Douridas...

Happily, we don't go to movies, yet.

deb in sf

Rob said...

Why don't they use music kids will recognize?

I think it's simple: Marketing to kids is about the movie itself, but marketing to parents is about the feeling you get when you see the preview.

Think about it - a parents sees a preview for a film and hears a song THEY know and like. That makes them that much more likely to pay attention and possibly want to take their kid to that movie. The kid sees the same preview - but they are paying attention to the characters and what the movie is actually about.

Sheryl Crow and Rascal Flatts are on the Cars Soundtrack. Why? Because parents know them and parents are the ultimate consumers of the soundtrack. They are the ones who make the decision to buy that CD.


Stefan said...

Oh, sure, I understand why they do it. I just think that it:
a) isn't very helpful -- the kids are driving the movie-attendance decision, not the parents, and
b) it's lazy.

As much as I found Ben Folds' reworking of "Rocking the Suburbs" misguided and find his "Lost in the Supermarket" to be inferior to the original, at least Over the Hedge made an effort to tweak the songs to the movie. The Clash cut was completely pointless in the context of the movie being previewed.

I understand it. Doesn't mean I think it's wise or fair to kids and their parents.