Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mr. Roboto Is a Stupid Song: My Daughter the Music Critic

"Mr. Roboto," she said, then paused a moment, choosing her next words carefully. "Mr. Roboto is a stupid song." So says my daughter, the three year old critic critic.

She's right, of course. Hey, I love "Mr. Roboto." It's a fun song. It might even be a good song. But, there is absolutely no question that it is a stupid song. Not even Dennis DeYoung could deny that. The Girl knows her music.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!
(When I saw the reflection of my iPhone, I thought about re-taking the picture. But after further  consideration, I thought it more appropriate to leave it there. I think Mr. Roboto would approve.)

She has always loved listening to and singing songs. When she was first learning to talk we had a couple of toys that played the song "Pop Goes the Weasel." She didn't know all the words, but at the appropriate time in the song she would sing along, saying "Pop...wee-so." (It was cuter than I could possibly find the words to describe.)

I like music, too, and when I'm watching the kids I'll put the iPod on random and let it play. The Girl quickly latched on to some of the songs and started singing them. One of her early favorites was "We Will Rock You" by Queen. She attempts to sing the words while simultaneously doing the stomp-stomp-clap actions to the beat of the song. (She struggles, but she does so with a big smile on her face.)

Sometimes it's surprising what she picks up from random songs. The other day she was walking around saying, "He had stars in his eyes." I couldn't figure out what she was talking about. Finally it dawned on me that one of the songs my iPod had just played was "Juke Box Hero" by Foreigner. She came to the conclusion that the Juke Box Hero has stars in his eyes to "help him see."

She doesn't always get the lyrics right. After hearing "Luck Be a Lady Tonight" she managed to change the lyric "let's keep the party polite" to "let's keep the potty polite." (I guess when you are three it's more important to have a polite potty than a polite party.) (Heck, that's still true as an adult, too.)

When she first learned the children's song "Once There Was a Snowman" she morphed the line "in the sun he melted" into "in the snowy mountain."

But, more often than not she gets the words right. She saw her PopPop sing "16 Tons" at karaoke (a sight that traumatized most everyone else who witnessed it.) Though she had only heard the song once, she was soon walking around the house singing "I woke up one morning when the sun didn't shine. I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine. I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal and the straw boss said well a bless my soul." And yes, it is quite amusing to see a little three year old girl sing those words while trying to make her voice as deep as possible.

Her taste in music is very varied, from classics like Billy Joel's "Piano Man" to novelty songs like "Fish Heads" by Barnes and Barnes. She likes songs by R.E.M., Crash Test Dummies, They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies and Ben Folds. She likes the "Mary Poppins" soundtrack, and anything from a Disney movie. She loves the kid's songs she learns at church. One of the first songs she learned to sing was the Carpenter's "Sing (Sing a Song.)" She loves the group Ok Go, calling them "The Dancing Guys" after repeated viewings of the video where they dance on treadmills. (They have a new video where they sing with the Muppets, further endearing them to her.)

And from her Auntie K (who is much more "hip" and "with it" than her parents) she has learned more modern songs, like some song about shooting kids for their shoes (I googled it and found out it is "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People), the "hotel, motel, Holiday Inn" song (Googled again: "Hotel Room Service" by Pitbull) and that "Hide Your Wife, Hide Your Kids" song from the internets.

Things changed a bit a few weeks ago. The Wife brought home from the store a three-CD set called "123 Favorite Kids Songs." It features one hundred and twenty-three children's songs. These are the old, classic songs that everyone learns as a kid, though no one really knows why. Songs like "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain," "On Top of Old Smoky," and "The Farmer In the Dell." It also includes "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt." (Despite what you might have heard, his name is NOT, repeat NOT my name, too.) And, "Jimmy Cracked Corn." (I don't care.) (Seriously, I don't care.)

The Girl, of course, fell in love with these CDs immediately. And even though there are 123 songs, she can tell you which of the three CDs any of the songs are on. The unfortunate side effect is that she has really latched onto the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy," and sings it over and over and over and over again. She'll ask, "Do you want to sing 'Yankee Doodle?'" We will say, "No." Undeterred, she'll say, "It goes like this..." and then sing it again. And again. And again. (I'm almost to the point of wishing the Brits had won the Revolutionary War.)(I've always wondered what a crumpet is.)

The Girl likes to sing. She sings in bed. She sings in the car. She sings on the potty. It's wonderful to hear her sing. (Yes, even "Yankee Doodle" for the umpteenth time.) It's great that she likes music. And it's great that she likes a wide variety of songs. Even Mr. Roboto. The day after announcing "Mr. Roboto is a stupid song," she asked me if I would play it. So I did. And apparently even a stupid song can bring a smile to everyone's face.

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