Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who likes owls? Best of 06, Vol. 2

One of my favorite CDs for the whole family this year was a release that until oh, this morning, wasn't available for sale. I'm talking of the Terrible Twos, "If You Ever See An Owl." The Cd has been complete for some time but the band was looking for a label to put it out. Now they've gone and put up a little impromptu eBay store and I like because this is a great holiday gift for your children and those children of people you like.

The Terrible Twos are led by Matt Pryor (formally of the Get-Up Kids and currently of The New Amsterdams) and the music is just good. The lyrics range from simple and silly to junior indie rock stuff. It's played so well and it doesn't sound like any other music made for kids really and yet it's wholly appropriate.

This from an interview with their local paper, in Lawrence Kansas (the gal quoted is Julia Peterson of the band The Breaks)

Matt: Well, we say 'songs for children.' The idea is to make music that kids would like as much as adults would like. Because Barney and The Wiggles and stuff like that is just incredibly annoying crap. So I'm just trying to write little folky pop songs but have them be about dinosaurs and bugs and stuff like that. We'll say 'kids record' - that's fine. I just kind of want to disassociate myself. I don't want to be a 'kids' artist.'

Julia: You don't wear a costume or anything when you play.

Matt: No, not at all. I mean, definitely you have to engage the kids. I'm figuring it out as I go along. It's different. There's the kind of rock-band way, like: 'Alright, how's everybody doing tonight!?' Kids just go 'eh.' So you gotta be like, 'Alright, who likes owls!?'

"Caroline" is about a girl whose birthday is just 3 days before Christmas and the upside to this apparent downer. Truly, this is my fave CD of the year for families and my daughter's hands-down fave too. No princesses, no Power Rangers, just mighty fine singing and songwriting.

The Terrible Twos, "Caroline"
The Terrible Twos, "When I get To Eleven"


You can now buy this CD. Fantastic. Go here and do just that, while you're there you can pick up a New Amsterdams t-shirt.

And here is their website: theterribletwos.net
And the New Amsterdams are good, too.

)))) (((((

*I don't know these people, I'm not plugging friends, we just like the goods. If you're looking for good baby / kid gifts, my husband's favorite online store is Little Ruler. It's pretty great, chock full of licensed skate designs. My daughter sports her "Skateboarding is not a crime shirt" proudly.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

>>Because Barney and The Wiggles and stuff like that is just incredibly annoying crap.

Grrr. Where are the rolling eyes icons when you need them???

Sorry Matt, but "When I Get to Eleven" sounds a lot like The Wiggles...

superclea said...

I don't wanna offend, but you know I have to disagree... I don't think anything on the Terrible Twos sounds anything like anything I've ever heard the Wiggles do. I too find them, even the sick yellow one, annoying. I think even the most simple songs on this CD are more intricate than what the Wiggles are doing and simply more pleasing to these ears (and my daughter's - she's listened to the Wiggles and not chosen it.) Maybe I shouldn't have put in the quote... I still say this is one of my favorites, all subjective, but still.

Anonymous said...

No offense at all, Clea, but I'll have to disagree in return. That "Eleven" song has very much the same musical and vocal phrasing as certain Wiggles songs. And since when is more intricate better, especially for kids (younger kids, at least)? But regardless, I find a lot of Wiggles songs to be as involved as anyone else's making kids' music, in terms of the melodic phrasing, chord structure, riffs (some of the catchiest since The Beatles, IMO), arrangements, etc. And 99 times out of 100, their songs are more memorable.

Anonymous said...

Ah ya know, whether we in particular like or don't like The Wiggles or Barney is besides the point of what bothers me when people say things like that...

By saying that, he's essentially insulting his own potential audience in a big way. Because given their own choice on a level playing field, I'll bet that 99% of all kids between about 1 and 3 would love Barney and The Wiggles, moreso than most other stuff out there. So he's kind of saying, hey kids, you're all stupid idiots and you have no taste at all in music... what a bunch of lame kids you are for liking that crap. And he's also insulting all of the millions of parents who think that Barney actually has some value and The Wiggles are entertaining and good music for their kids to listen to (particularly because, you know, they love it). Nnnnng-kaaaay...

And then, I wonder... is this even trying to appeal to that age range (1-3)? I suppose the name of the band might indicate so, but not musically or lyrically from what I've heard. So then, what's the point of saying that?? OF COURSE you're not trying to be like Barney, then. Duh. But still no need to be nasty towards acts like that and their legions of young fans.

It's one thing for you, who just write about music (well, afaik), to say nasty rhetoric about Barney or The Wiggles (like, for example, that nobody should ever listen to them, ever (wink)), but I really don't understand why other kids' musicians would say things like that. Bad mojo, methinks.

superclea said...

Wow, I (or rather, Matt P.) sparked some fire under you! Listen, I still respectfully disagree. I don't think Matt Pryor is trying to take the children of the world by storm in the manner the Wiggles have. I think he's offering up an alternative to what plenty of people, myself included, deem as crud. I really and truly cannot stand that Wiggles stuff and I'm not saying that to be hip or cool or anything, it made my head hurt. And I'm happy for alternatives to that, alternatives that both my daughter AND I can enjoy together. ANd I truly, truly do enjoy this CD, and honestly so does my five year old daughter. She rejects much of what I put in front of her and likes some of what she hears at school (although honestly, and I'm not just saying this, she cannot stand the Wiggles, but she is 5, not 2.) I do understand why a musician would say he doesn't like the Wiggles... he'd say it because he doesn't like the Wiggles!

I can't believe I'm arguing about the Wiggles. Seriously, though, I'm not trying to be rude or anything, I respect your opinion and I also repsect The Terrible Two's opinion. You think he's insulting his audience, I just think that the bulk of his audience are people looking for an alternative.

And also, since when do musicians not criticize others? That's part of the American way...

Anonymous said...

perfect antidote to the damp chilly bogtown, here. You made my day, super-c! as ush!

Anonymous said...

>>And also, since when do musicians not criticize others? That's part of the American way...

Ha. No doubt. And 'alternative' to The Wiggles and Barney is great... So why not say that? I just hate to hear people sounding so nasty about music that so many kids truly love. It is insulting to kids' tastes in a roundabout way.

Anyway, yeah, it touches on a nerve for me, partly because I do appreciate both Barney and The Wiggles (not like I have posters on my walls or anything, but...) for what they do, but besides that, because even if I didn't it wouldn't seem like a classy thing to do. For example, I'm not a big Bruce Springsteen fan... for whatever reason, most of his music just doesn't do much for me... however, I can appreciate that many other people love him and I wouldn't refer to his music as "annoying crap". You know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

>>And also, since when do musicians not criticize others? That's part of the American way...

Ha. No doubt. And 'alternative' to The Wiggles and Barney is great... So why not say that? I just hate to hear people sounding so nasty about music that so many kids truly love. It is insulting to kids' tastes in a roundabout way.

Anyway, yeah, it touches on a nerve for me, partly because I do appreciate both Barney and The Wiggles (not like I have posters on my walls or anything, but...) for what they do, but besides that, because even if I didn't it wouldn't seem like a classy thing to do. For example, I'm not a big Bruce Springsteen fan... for whatever reason, most of his music just doesn't do much for me... however, I can appreciate that many other people love him and I wouldn't refer to his music as "annoying crap". You know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

The real reason to hate the Wiggles, and other formula driven, market-tested, mass-licesened merchandise is that it is just that - merchandise. That stuff is just not art, which, if you are a fan of music - and I mean a real fan of music (forget all the hipster attitude stuff) - you SHOULD be offended by and should not want to expose your kids to that stuff. The Wiggles and the like is music crafted and created to sell other items - toothbrushes, toys, etc. It flat out offends my sensibilites as a music and art lover.

To the point that 99% of kids would be in to it is exactly the problem: IT IS CRAFTED and FINE TUNED and AUDIENCE TESTS TO DO JUST THAT - appeal to the masses and to SELL, SELL, SELL.

In my experience, kids will be in to anything you put in front of them and are excited about yourself. They are sponges just waiting to learn and experience life. But if we as parents blindly follow along and accept the mass marketed stuff your kids will only have the chance to enjoy that stuff. Why not open it up to more interesting and diverse stuff?

Many people are looking for an alternative and not all of us are doing so to be cool or better or different. I can only speak for myself, but I am constantly searching for good stuff, that comes from the heart and is made with care and, most importantly, with passion. I do so in my own life and as a parent. This extends far beyond music.

Also, the idol worship thing comes in to play for me. I do everything I can to raise a girl who loves music and appreciates musicianship but is not in awe of a guy because he can sing or plays guitar on stage. WAY too much of that in society and with our youth. I get her in front of guys and girls who rock and are approachable and accessible to break down that wall from a young age.

superclea said...

That's it— I'm gonna let Jeff do all my talking for me from now on. As usual, you succinctly and intelligently say it all.

Thanks. You're kids are lucky ducks...

superclea said...

Oops not you're but your

Yeah I write for a living.

Anonymous said...

haha, thanks clea. my comment is probably filled with spelling and grammar erros, and assuming I am correct - I apologize. Writing that was the last thing I did before leaving the office. It was sincere, but rushed.

Phil said...

Hey, Wiggles fan here. We don't listen to them anymore, as my kids have outgrown them.

But I will rise to their defense. The four Wiggles write their own songs, play their own instruments, do their own singing. I would not call them "manufactured music" at all. When it comes to the t-shirts, board games, et al, they're not doing anything different than The Rolling Stones or Elvis Presley. I don't begrudge the Wiggles for putting out products because kids demanded such. They started out just playing music. The other stuff came later.

Me, I like all kinds of music. ALL KINDS. I'm even going to give Dan Zanes another chance (as soon as his care package arrives in my mailbox). I'm teaching my kids to simply like what they like. Music is in the ear of the beholder.

I'm going to torture you guys by posting a song from one of the Barbie movies. Talk about manufactured! But it is kind of catchy. :)

Anonymous said...

Here is link to a New York Times article about the Wiggles. There are so many quotes from them in here that enrage me.
http://www.rideforthem.com/wiggles.pdf

Yeah, I know a lot of groups and companies operate like them - past and present - that does not make it ok in my book, for any of them. It is tacky, greedy and is contributing to the branding and commercialization of our kids (and world). It drives me crazy. And to be clear, kids do not demand those products and THEN they are made and advertised. If they did not exist, they would still have a backpack, brush their teeth, eat, etc. We have not of that in the house, and no demands for it.

If you are crafted and tweaking your moves, music, and personalities to appeal to a targeted group, it is manufactered in my book. True art and craftsmenship, in my view, is making something from the heart with passion and hoping people respond to it, respond to what came from inside you. What they are doing is false and made only to sell the most units it can. I have a major problem with that in music and all other aspects of modern life.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I want to apologize for my tone earlier. I've just been frustrated with people bagging on The Wiggles, who are just musicians themselves, after all, and work very hard to make a living (extravagent though that may be at this point). I also don't mean to bag so much on Matt or The Terrible Twos for feeling the way that they do. I do really like their music from what I've heard and think it is indeed a good alternative to what's out there. I just hate to hear comments like that, and I think some of the Wiggles bashing is misdirected and deserves questioning. I think Stefan at Zooglobble had a good point in his recent post on his blog about this thread, and I understand there are a lot of people who are fed up with corporate radio and TV and the few selections of kids' music available at record stores, which things like The Wiggles and Laurie Berkner seem to dominate. But that's not The Wiggles' fault. If you're angry about that sort of thing, I think the focus should be more on the narrow-minded distributors and exclusive retailers, not the band. Then again, retailers only have so much space and it's their prerogative to fill that space with CDs that they know will actually sell, like The Wiggles and Laurie Berkner. If you're upset with the selection at certain stores, shop elsewhere, or make suggestions to the store owners. And there's always that great new kids' music store called The Internet.

In response to Jeff's comments...

>>The real reason to hate the Wiggles... snip

I think you misunderstand the reality of that to some extent. If anyone could craft and create music that millions of kids would love, everyone would be doing it. I'm amused when some people assume that hit songs can somehow be "manufactured", as if there is some scientific formula for that. The difference is that The Wiggles know what kids love and respond to (three of them have early childhood education backgrounds) and they have immense talent as musicians and songwriters. That made for a winning combination.

But what's wrong with appealing to "the masses" and selling a lot of CDs? Do you not want your kids ever listening to The Beatles? They were a highly-crafted band specifically designed and groomed to appeal to the masses and sell sell sell, and boy, did they ever sell everything they could related to their name and image. Same with the Stones and U2 and virtually every other band the masses have ever heard of. Can your kids only ever listen to obscure bands that nobody has ever heard of? It takes money to survive as a human being and especially as a musician trying to make it. Like it or not, ALL music is a product to some extent. At least, all music that anybody buys. There's nothing wrong with making money, even lots of it, if what you do is successful and appreciated by a lot of people. Clea, you have a particular affinity for Dan Zanes, right? Well, that was Dan Zanes' CD I saw at Walmart last night, wasn't it? And his videos on the Disney Channel and a new TV show of his coming on soon, right? And his concert tickets on sale for $130-215 each? (Yup, just looked it up... Wow!) The market bears what it will and rewards the best of the best, but it takes a lot of promotion to succeed. And once there is demand, what's wrong with supplying that? But no matter how much slick promotion there is for something, the demand will not be there and not continue to be there if it's not a product that many people actually want.

Also, The Wiggles are indeed "art". For one to four year-olds, they are incredible, wondrous, entertaining art. For you, not so much... But for young kids, definitely. They create an imaginative world of music and fun for kids. And they are turning kids on to "real music" with a great variety of sounds and styles, which can certainly be expanded on as they hear other things and grow older.

>>In my experience, kids will be... snip

Well of course, open it up to more diverse stuff, as an alternative... but not as an absolute replacement for stuff that is perfectly good for them that they might really love, like Barney and The Wiggles.

My experience is the opposite of yours, though, as far as the first statement. I don't really care for Barney as a performer or his show and have certainly not expressed much excitement about it myself, but my girls LOVE Barney and sing along with his songs with great gusto. And is that so terrible, considering he sings about eating healthy and being friendly and learning numbers and the alphabet and loving your family and all that? It was the same with The Wiggles for me, initially. Their presentation seemed too childish for me to get into but my kids took to it right away, and then I grew to really appreciate the depth and variety of their songs. And what do you know, their childish presentation is loved by children (who tend to be a little childish, eh?). Go figure.

>>Many people are looking for an alternative... snip

There's a big difference between appreciating and following something and having an idol worship fixation about it, and The Wiggles don't have to be the latter any more than any other popular group. And there's nothing wrong with the former. Haven't you ever really liked certain bands and followed them and knew all of the members' names and appreciated their particular personalities and what they added to the whole? The Beatles basically started all of that and it continued on from there in a huge way. The Wiggles have that kind of excitement and personality as a group and give that "favorite band" opportunity to kids in abundance. They are indeed The Beatles in that sense for millions of kids, and why shouldn't they be? I don't know when you grew up specifically, but didn't you like Star Wars when you were a kid? I mean, really like it to the point of wanting the action figures and using your imagination to pretend that you were fighting Darth Vader with your plastic light saber toy? If not, you're probably the rare exception, but assuming so, then was that such a terrible thing? And unless you're still going to Star Wars conventions dressed as Boba Fett, you probably grew out of it. The Wiggles are meant for kids one to four years old, and whatever fascination they might have for them now, they WILL outgrow that. Same way that I don't have posters of Iron Maiden and Ozzy on my walls anymore, but boy I sure liked them when I was 14. But does it make sense to denounce The Wiggles just because millions of kids appreciate and follow them? Virtually every notable musical act has perpetuated and promoted itself as something to be followed and paid attention to. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been heard of in the first place and couldn't afford to continue on as an act. It doesn't necessarily have to amount to idol worship, though. That's up to the individual as to how they're brought up and what their priorities are.

>>Here is link to a New York Times article... snip

Enraged?? Good grief. The concert experience sounds almost exactly like every U2 concert I've ever seen, only with a different age group and different music. They work hard to get kids to participate and have visuals and music they can relate to. Sounds like they're giving kids an experience they'll particularly enjoy and giving parents their money's worth in entertainment.

Or is it the whole merchandise thing? Again, YOU have the choice not to buy that stuff for your kids, just like you have the choice whether or not to buy a TMBG T-shirt at their concerts. Our parents' generation loved The Beatles in all respects, but they had the choice as to whether they wanted to buy a Beatles lunchbox or not. And the fact that Beatles' lunchboxes were out there never compromised how anyone felt about their music, or at least, it shouldn't have.

>>Yeah, I know a lot of groups and companies... snip

I agree that it's absurd to think that you need a certain brand of anything, especially for things like clothes. Inasmuch as that idea is perpetuated I think it's worth encouraging against that. But I think to an extent you may be confusing commercialism with "materialism". Commercialism is part of a capitalist society, and again, the market will or will not bear or support what has been "commercialized". Regardless, all of that has absolutely no reflection on whether or not the music is any good. If you have actually listened to enough of The Wiggles songs, you might discover that many of them are actually quite good, and kids are very entertained by them. Entertainment is a good thing in a reasonable measure, no? So leave it at that, then, and encourage your kids to leave it at that. But part of the fun of things like having favorite bands and loving things like Star Wars is immersing yourself in their world and embracing the imagination of it all. Sometimes that means buying a plastic light saber or gasp, a Wiggles toy.

>>If you are crafted and tweaking your moves... snip

So again, let's throw out The Beatles and countless other great groups whose moves, music and personalities were crafted to appeal to a targeted group. I believe that what The Wiggles and Barney do is done from the heart and with passion, regardless of whether they are trying to make a buck with it (which there's nothing wrong with... Barney's gotta eat, too, ya know... he's a big guy). Let me ask you this... do you have a major problem with driving a car, using a computer, eating food, using toilet paper, etc.? Virtually everything in our modern life is crafted and tweaked to appeal to targeted groups.

On your recent blog entry you mention that you let your kids watch Sesame Street. Do you have any idea how much Sesame Street merchandise has been out there for thirty-six years? It's okay for Sesame Street but not for The Wiggles?? And I know that you're a fan of TMBG, so can you honestly tell me that their recent kids' music albums weren't crafted particularly with that targeted group in mind, with the underlying intention to release a product that would make money? And the music came out with TMBG's personality and musical craft as part of that, so that's great. And you know what? Same thing with The Wiggles. They have craft and personality and it's a big part of their music.

I think your staunch idealism in this regard is a little puzzling, and its the absolutism that I find unfortunate. I've never said that kids and parents everywhere should love The Wiggles and their music. That's their choice as far as their personal musical taste. But you have specifically said that people should hate and be offended by The Wiggles and should not ever expose their kids to them.

Anyway, I appreciate the dialogue with you here, but I've said enough and I'm happy to concede the last word to you or Clea or whoever else.

Best,
Eric

Anonymous said...

First of all, I want to apologize for my tone earlier. I've just been frustrated with people bagging on The Wiggles, who are just musicians themselves, after all, and work very hard to make a living (extravagent though that may be at this point). I also don't mean to bag so much on Matt or The Terrible Twos for feeling the way that they do. I do really like their music from what I've heard and think it is indeed a good alternative to what's out there. I just hate to hear comments like that, and I think some of the Wiggles bashing is misdirected and deserves questioning. I think Stefan at Zooglobble had a good point in his recent post on his blog about this thread, and I understand there are a lot of people who are fed up with corporate radio and TV and the few selections of kids' music available at record stores, which things like The Wiggles and Laurie Berkner seem to dominate. But that's not The Wiggles' fault. If you're angry about that sort of thing, I think the focus should be more on the narrow-minded distributors and exclusive retailers, not the band. Then again, retailers only have so much space and it's their prerogative to fill that space with CDs that they know will actually sell, like The Wiggles and Laurie Berkner. If you're upset with the selection at certain stores, shop elsewhere, or make suggestions to the store owners. And there's always that great new kids' music store called The Internet.

In response to Jeff's comments...

>>The real reason to hate the Wiggles... snip

I think you misunderstand the reality of that to some extent. If anyone could craft and create music that millions of kids would love, everyone would be doing it. I'm amused when some people assume that hit songs can somehow be "manufactured", as if there is some scientific formula for that. The difference is that The Wiggles know what kids love and respond to (three of them have early childhood education backgrounds) and they have immense talent as musicians and songwriters. That made for a winning combination.

But what's wrong with appealing to "the masses" and selling a lot of CDs? Do you not want your kids ever listening to The Beatles? They were a highly-crafted band specifically designed and groomed to appeal to the masses and sell sell sell, and boy, did they ever sell everything they could related to their name and image. Same with the Stones and U2 and virtually every other band the masses have ever heard of. Can your kids only ever listen to obscure bands that nobody has ever heard of? It takes money to survive as a human being and especially as a musician trying to make it. Like it or not, ALL music is a product to some extent. At least, all music that anybody buys. There's nothing wrong with making money, even lots of it, if what you do is successful and appreciated by a lot of people. Clea, you have a particular affinity for Dan Zanes, right? Well, that was Dan Zanes' CD I saw at Walmart last night, wasn't it? And his videos on the Disney Channel and a new TV show of his coming on soon, right? And his concert tickets on sale for $130-215 each? (Yup, just looked it up... Wow!) The market bears what it will and rewards the best of the best, but it takes a lot of promotion to succeed. And once there is demand, what's wrong with supplying that? But no matter how much slick promotion there is for something, the demand will not be there and not continue to be there if it's not a product that many people actually want.

Also, The Wiggles are indeed "art". For one to four year-olds, they are incredible, wondrous, entertaining art. For you, not so much... But for young kids, definitely. They create an imaginative world of music and fun for kids. And they are turning kids on to "real music" with a great variety of sounds and styles, which can certainly be expanded on as they hear other things and grow older.

>>In my experience, kids will be... snip

Well of course, open it up to more diverse stuff, as an alternative... but not as an absolute replacement for stuff that is perfectly good for them that they might really love, like Barney and The Wiggles.

My experience is the opposite of yours, though, as far as the first statement. I don't really care for Barney as a performer or his show and have certainly not expressed much excitement about it myself, but my girls LOVE Barney and sing along with his songs with great gusto. And is that so terrible, considering he sings about eating healthy and being friendly and learning numbers and the alphabet and loving your family and all that? It was the same with The Wiggles for me, initially. Their presentation seemed too childish for me to get into but my kids took to it right away, and then I grew to really appreciate the depth and variety of their songs. And what do you know, their childish presentation is loved by children (who tend to be a little childish, eh?). Go figure.

>>Many people are looking for an alternative... snip

There's a big difference between appreciating and following something and having an idol worship fixation about it, and The Wiggles don't have to be the latter any more than any other popular group. And there's nothing wrong with the former. Haven't you ever really liked certain bands and followed them and knew all of the members' names and appreciated their particular personalities and what they added to the whole? The Beatles basically started all of that and it continued on from there in a huge way. The Wiggles have that kind of excitement and personality as a group and give that "favorite band" opportunity to kids in abundance. They are indeed The Beatles in that sense for millions of kids, and why shouldn't they be? I don't know when you grew up specifically, but didn't you like Star Wars when you were a kid? I mean, really like it to the point of wanting the action figures and using your imagination to pretend that you were fighting Darth Vader with your plastic light saber toy? If not, you're probably the rare exception, but assuming so, then was that such a terrible thing? And unless you're still going to Star Wars conventions dressed as Boba Fett, you probably grew out of it. The Wiggles are meant for kids one to four years old, and whatever fascination they might have for them now, they WILL outgrow that. Same way that I don't have posters of Iron Maiden and Ozzy on my walls anymore, but boy I sure liked them when I was 14. But does it make sense to denounce The Wiggles just because millions of kids appreciate and follow them? Virtually every notable musical act has perpetuated and promoted itself as something to be followed and paid attention to. Otherwise, they wouldn't have been heard of in the first place and couldn't afford to continue on as an act. It doesn't necessarily have to amount to idol worship, though. That's up to the individual as to how they're brought up and what their priorities are.

>>Here is link to a New York Times article... snip

Enraged?? Good grief. The concert experience sounds almost exactly like every U2 concert I've ever seen, only with a different age group and different music. They work hard to get kids to participate and have visuals and music they can relate to. Sounds like they're giving kids an experience they'll particularly enjoy and giving parents their money's worth in entertainment.

Or is it the whole merchandise thing? Again, YOU have the choice not to buy that stuff for your kids, just like you have the choice whether or not to buy a TMBG T-shirt at their concerts. Our parents' generation loved The Beatles in all respects, but they had the choice as to whether they wanted to buy a Beatles lunchbox or not. And the fact that Beatles' lunchboxes were out there never compromised how anyone felt about their music, or at least, it shouldn't have.

>>Yeah, I know a lot of groups and companies... snip

I agree that it's absurd to think that you need a certain brand of anything, especially for things like clothes. Inasmuch as that idea is perpetuated I think it's worth encouraging against that. But I think to an extent you may be confusing commercialism with "materialism". Commercialism is part of a capitalist society, and again, the market will or will not bear or support what has been "commercialized". Regardless, all of that has absolutely no reflection on whether or not the music is any good. If you have actually listened to enough of The Wiggles songs, you might discover that many of them are actually quite good, and kids are very entertained by them. Entertainment is a good thing in a reasonable measure, no? So leave it at that, then, and encourage your kids to leave it at that. But part of the fun of things like having favorite bands and loving things like Star Wars is immersing yourself in their world and embracing the imagination of it all. Sometimes that means buying a plastic light saber or gasp, a Wiggles toy.

>>If you are crafted and tweaking your moves... snip

So again, let's throw out The Beatles and countless other great groups whose moves, music and personalities were crafted to appeal to a targeted group. I believe that what The Wiggles and Barney do is done from the heart and with passion, regardless of whether they are trying to make a buck with it (which there's nothing wrong with... Barney's gotta eat, too, ya know... he's a big guy). Let me ask you this... do you have a major problem with driving a car, using a computer, eating food, using toilet paper, etc.? Virtually everything in our modern life is crafted and tweaked to appeal to targeted groups.

On your recent blog entry you mention that you let your kids watch Sesame Street. Do you have any idea how much Sesame Street merchandise has been out there for thirty-six years? It's okay for Sesame Street but not for The Wiggles?? And I know that you're a fan of TMBG, so can you honestly tell me that their recent kids' music albums weren't crafted particularly with that targeted group in mind, with the underlying intention to release a product that would make money? And the music came out with TMBG's personality and musical craft as part of that, so that's great. And you know what? Same thing with The Wiggles. They have craft and personality and it's a big part of their music.

I think your staunch idealism in this regard is a little puzzling, and its the absolutism that I find unfortunate. I've never said that kids and parents everywhere should love The Wiggles and their music. That's their choice as far as their personal musical taste. But you have specifically said that people should hate and be offended by The Wiggles and should not ever expose their kids to them.

Anyway, I appreciate the dialogue with you here. I suppose we may have to agree to disagree about the difference between commercialism and materialism. But I've said enough and I'm happy to concede the last word to you or Clea or whoever else.

Best,
Eric

Anonymous said...

Ah, nuts. For some reason, Blogger keeps hanging and timing out and so I hit Publish again and it turns out that it posts twice. Clea, if you can delete one of the duplicate posts (and this one), that would be great. It already takes up enough space!

Phil said...

Woo-hoo, Go Eric!

Hey, I come at this whole thing from the perspective of a parent who simply listened to the Wiggles songs with his kids. We didn't watch the videos or play with the action figures. I don't even remember seeing that stuff 6 or 7 years ago. We just had a bunch of their CDs with addictive little ditties like "Hot Potato," "Bing Bang Bong," and "John Bradlelum."

We just bopped around to the tunes, plain and simple. Never went to a concert or bought a t-shirt. They were first kids' music that my kids liked, and I'll always appreciate them for that. Now my son has gone on to such groups as The Beatles, XTC, Split Enz, UB40, and Simple Plan. Oh, and he digs Eric Herman too!

Bill said...

I've posted some incoherent cold-medicine-affected thoughts here.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there is a lot of stuff here to respond to, but I will pick just a couple things. You mention, correctly, that we enjoy Sesame Street and TMBG - so I must not be a staunchly idealistic or absolute as you frame me to be. I like to think I am a pretty complex individual.
Do I realize there is a ton of S. Street gear out there - indeed I do. We own very little of it, just a couple books since we know the author of many of the Elmo's World books and a stuffed red fella and we went to Sesame Place once, which was enjoyable.
TMBG were one of my favorite bands growing up, their's was the first live musical experience I ever had - so they have a little place in my heart. Plus their music has always been perfect for kids - the transition seems natural. Do I think they approach selling their music to kids and the masses the same way as other big kid's bands? I have no idea, but I would like to think not exactly. And yes, I know they record for Disney (even though it has not come up, I dislike Disney a lot). Does all of this bug me a bit, yes it does.

"But you have specifically said that people should hate and be offended by The Wiggles and should not ever expose their kids to them."

I have never said this, any of it. Here is what I wrote:

"That stuff is just not art, which, if you are a fan of music - and I mean a real fan of music (forget all the hipster attitude stuff) - you SHOULD be offended by and should not want to expose your kids to that stuff."

I like to think that I have never encouraged or advocated the HATING of any music or art - especially of the kid's variety. Exposing kids to music and art, even what I deem to be the worst of the lot, is better than not doing so at all. I was simply clarifying "The real reason to hate them" , if you are already so inclined - to frame the arguement a bit more consisly. This, I think, is what Clea was complimenting me for, for clearing up a position (of hers and, as it turns out, mine) - not advocating or "selling" the position to others.

We went with the TMBG show with a lovely little girl who happens to love the yellow Wiggle AND TMBG. I would never try to get her to HATE a musical group she likes. It is kinda insane to even suggest that I would.

The Beatles references have me a little confused. From my memory, the Beatles grew up, challenged conventions, experimented musically, took chances socially and politically and crafted some of the most unique, sonically layered and imaginative rock music of all time - much of which was way ahead of it's time. How again are they similar to The Wiggles? If the Beatles were following some formula, that was some kind of advanced and well thought out plan.

You ask if I have a problem with driving a car, owning a computer, T-P, etc. Sometime, yeah. I understand how marketing works and that just about everything in life is made by one group to sell to another. I am not 100% sure to respond to this, since it kind of seems like an attact on me, or the part of me that is bothered by the rampant commercialism we see today, and the targeting of much of that to kids (see "The nag factor" in marketing textbooks). I am not going to apologize for being concerned as a parent about the way kids are handled and mishandled when it comes to advertising and marketing. I guess I carve Art out of this debate and focus on it more than anything else.

"Well of course, open it up to more diverse stuff, as an alternative... but not as an absolute replacement for stuff that is perfectly good for them that they might really love, like Barney and The Wiggles. "

Why must I make the diverse stuff an alternative only? I fail to understand the point of your statement. Why are you telling me and other parents that we all, essentially, must subscribe to things like Barney and The Wiggles?

Must I always vacation in Orlando with my kids? And only sprinkle in some interesting destinations where they can meet diverse people, culture, thought, art, etc here and there? Gosh, I hope not...We would already be out of line.

This conversation is rather tough on Clea's comment forum here. This is, for me, a complex issue one that requires an easier and more interactive form of communication. It (and I mean materialism, commercialism, etc), like parenting in general, also requires a ton of thought and consideration. Maybe I put too much into things, put I like to think that is all part of my charm. ha.

Thanks for the discourse though, this is a very useful exercise and is good debate - we need more of this in the world.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there is a lot of stuff here to respond to, but I will pick just a couple things. You mention, correctly, that we enjoy Sesame Street and TMBG - so I must not be a staunchly idealistic or absolute as you frame me to be. I like to think I am a pretty complex individual.
Do I realize there is a ton of S. Street gear out there - indeed I do. We own very little of it, just a couple books since we know the author of many of the Elmo's World books and a stuffed red fella and we went to Sesame Place once, which was enjoyable.
TMBG were one of my favorite bands growing up, their's was the first live musical experience I ever had - so they have a little place in my heart. Plus their music has always been perfect for kids - the transition seems natural. Do I think they approach selling their music to kids and the masses the same way as other big kid's bands? I have no idea, but I would like to think not exactly. And yes, I know they record for Disney (even though it has not come up, I dislike Disney a lot). Does all of this bug me a bit, yes it does.

"But you have specifically said that people should hate and be offended by The Wiggles and should not ever expose their kids to them."

I have never said this, any of it. Here is what I wrote:

"That stuff is just not art, which, if you are a fan of music - and I mean a real fan of music (forget all the hipster attitude stuff) - you SHOULD be offended by and should not want to expose your kids to that stuff."

I like to think that I have never encouraged or advocated the HATING of any music or art - especially of the kid's variety. Exposing kids to music and art, even what I deem to be the worst of the lot, is better than not doing so at all. I was simply clarifying "The real reason to hate them" , if you are already so inclined - to frame the arguement a bit more consisly. This, I think, is what Clea was complimenting me for, for clearing up a position (of hers and, as it turns out, mine) - not advocating or "selling" the position to others.

We went with the TMBG show with a lovely little girl who happens to love the yellow Wiggle AND TMBG. I would never try to get her to HATE a musical group she likes. It is kinda insane to even suggest that I would.

The Beatles references have me a little confused. From my memory, the Beatles grew up, challenged conventions, experimented musically, took chances socially and politically and crafted some of the most unique, sonically layered and imaginative rock music of all time - much of which was way ahead of it's time. How again are they similar to The Wiggles? If the Beatles were following some formula, that was some kind of advanced and well thought out plan.

You ask if I have a problem with driving a car, owning a computer, T-P, etc. Sometime, yeah. I understand how marketing works and that just about everything in life is made by one group to sell to another. I am not 100% sure to respond to this, since it kind of seems like an attact on me, or the part of me that is bothered by the rampant commercialism we see today, and the targeting of much of that to kids (see "The nag factor" in marketing textbooks). I am not going to apologize for being concerned as a parent about the way kids are handled and mishandled when it comes to advertising and marketing. I guess I carve Art out of this debate and focus on it more than anything else.

"Well of course, open it up to more diverse stuff, as an alternative... but not as an absolute replacement for stuff that is perfectly good for them that they might really love, like Barney and The Wiggles. "

Why must I make the diverse stuff an alternative only? I fail to understand the point of your statement. Why are you telling me and other parents that we all, essentially, must subscribe to things like Barney and The Wiggles?

Must I always vacation in Orlando with my kids? And only sprinkle in some interesting destinations where they can meet diverse people, culture, thought, art, etc here and there? Gosh, I hope not...We would already be out of line.

This conversation is rather tough on Clea's comment forum here. This is, for me, a complex issue one that requires an easier and more interactive form of communication. It (and I mean materialism, commercialism, etc), like parenting in general, also requires a ton of thought and consideration. Maybe I put too much into things, put I like to think that is all part of my charm. ha.

Thanks for the discourse though, this is a very useful exercise and is good debate - we need more of this in the world.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there is a lot of stuff here to respond to, but I will pick just a couple things. You mention, correctly, that we enjoy Sesame Street and TMBG - so I must not be a staunchly idealistic or absolute as you frame me to be. I like to think I am a pretty complex individual.
Do I realize there is a ton of S. Street gear out there - indeed I do. We own very little of it, just a couple books since we know the author of many of the Elmo's World books and a stuffed red fella and we went to Sesame Place once, which was enjoyable.
TMBG were one of my favorite bands growing up, their's was the first live musical experience I ever had - so they have a little place in my heart. Plus their music has always been perfect for kids - the transition seems natural. Do I think they approach selling their music to kids and the masses the same way as other big kid's bands? I have no idea, but I would like to think not exactly. And yes, I know they record for Disney (even though it has not come up, I dislike Disney a lot). Does all of this bug me a bit, yes it does.

"But you have specifically said that people should hate and be offended by The Wiggles and should not ever expose their kids to them."

I have never said this, any of it. Here is what I wrote:

"That stuff is just not art, which, if you are a fan of music - and I mean a real fan of music (forget all the hipster attitude stuff) - you SHOULD be offended by and should not want to expose your kids to that stuff."

I like to think that I have never encouraged or advocated the HATING of any music or art - especially of the kid's variety. Exposing kids to music and art, even what I deem to be the worst of the lot, is better than not doing so at all. I was simply clarifying "The real reason to hate them" , if you are already so inclined - to frame the arguement a bit more consisly. This, I think, is what Clea was complimenting me for, for clearing up a position (of hers and, as it turns out, mine) - not advocating or "selling" the position to others.

We went with the TMBG show with a lovely little girl who happens to love the yellow Wiggle AND TMBG. I would never try to get her to HATE a musical group she likes. It is kinda insane to even suggest that I would.

The Beatles references have me a little confused. From my memory, the Beatles grew up, challenged conventions, experimented musically, took chances socially and politically and crafted some of the most unique, sonically layered and imaginative rock music of all time - much of which was way ahead of it's time. How again are they similar to The Wiggles? If the Beatles were following some formula, that was some kind of advanced and well thought out plan.

You ask if I have a problem with driving a car, owning a computer, T-P, etc. Sometime, yeah. I understand how marketing works and that just about everything in life is made by one group to sell to another. I am not 100% sure to respond to this, since it kind of seems like an attact on me, or the part of me that is bothered by the rampant commercialism we see today, and the targeting of much of that to kids (see "The nag factor" in marketing textbooks). I am not going to apologize for being concerned as a parent about the way kids are handled and mishandled when it comes to advertising and marketing. I guess I carve Art out of this debate and focus on it more than anything else.

"Well of course, open it up to more diverse stuff, as an alternative... but not as an absolute replacement for stuff that is perfectly good for them that they might really love, like Barney and The Wiggles. "

Why must I make the diverse stuff an alternative only? I fail to understand the point of your statement. Why are you telling me and other parents that we all, essentially, must subscribe to things like Barney and The Wiggles?

Must I always vacation in Orlando with my kids? And only sprinkle in some interesting destinations where they can meet diverse people, culture, thought, art, etc here and there? Gosh, I hope not...We would already be out of line.

This conversation is rather tough on Clea's comment forum here. This is, for me, a complex issue one that requires an easier and more interactive form of communication. It (and I mean materialism, commercialism, etc), like parenting in general, also requires a ton of thought and consideration. Maybe I put too much into things, put I like to think that is all part of my charm. ha.

Thanks for the discourse though, this is a very useful exercise and is good debate - we need more of this in the world.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there is a lot of stuff here to respond to, but I will pick just a couple things. You mention, correctly, that we enjoy Sesame Street and TMBG - so I must not be a staunchly idealistic or absolute as you frame me to be. I like to think I am a pretty complex individual.
Do I realize there is a ton of S. Street gear out there - indeed I do. We own very little of it, just a couple books since we know the author of many of the Elmo's World books and a stuffed red fella and we went to Sesame Place once, which was enjoyable.
TMBG were one of my favorite bands growing up, their's was the first live musical experience I ever had - so they have a little place in my heart. Plus their music has always been perfect for kids - the transition seems natural. Do I think they approach selling their music to kids and the masses the same way as other big kid's bands? I have no idea, but I would like to think not exactly. And yes, I know they record for Disney (even though it has not come up, I dislike Disney a lot). Does all of this bug me a bit, yes it does.

"But you have specifically said that people should hate and be offended by The Wiggles and should not ever expose their kids to them."

I have never said this, any of it. Here is what I wrote:

"That stuff is just not art, which, if you are a fan of music - and I mean a real fan of music (forget all the hipster attitude stuff) - you SHOULD be offended by and should not want to expose your kids to that stuff."

I like to think that I have never encouraged or advocated the HATING of any music or art - especially of the kid's variety. Exposing kids to music and art, even what I deem to be the worst of the lot, is better than not doing so at all. I was simply clarifying "The real reason to hate them" , if you are already so inclined - to frame the arguement a bit more consisly. This, I think, is what Clea was complimenting me for, for clearing up a position (of hers and, as it turns out, mine) - not advocating or "selling" the position to others.

We went with the TMBG show with a lovely little girl who happens to love the yellow Wiggle AND TMBG. I would never try to get her to HATE a musical group she likes. It is kinda insane to even suggest that I would.

The Beatles references have me a little confused. From my memory, the Beatles grew up, challenged conventions, experimented musically, took chances socially and politically and crafted some of the most unique, sonically layered and imaginative rock music of all time - much of which was way ahead of it's time. How again are they similar to The Wiggles? If the Beatles were following some formula, that was some kind of advanced and well thought out plan.

You ask if I have a problem with driving a car, owning a computer, T-P, etc. Sometime, yeah. I understand how marketing works and that just about everything in life is made by one group to sell to another. I am not 100% sure to respond to this, since it kind of seems like an attact on me, or the part of me that is bothered by the rampant commercialism we see today, and the targeting of much of that to kids (see "The nag factor" in marketing textbooks). I am not going to apologize for being concerned as a parent about the way kids are handled and mishandled when it comes to advertising and marketing. I guess I carve Art out of this debate and focus on it more than anything else.

"Well of course, open it up to more diverse stuff, as an alternative... but not as an absolute replacement for stuff that is perfectly good for them that they might really love, like Barney and The Wiggles. "

Why must I make the diverse stuff an alternative only? I fail to understand the point of your statement. Why are you telling me and other parents that we all, essentially, must subscribe to things like Barney and The Wiggles?

Must I always vacation in Orlando with my kids? And only sprinkle in some interesting destinations where they can meet diverse people, culture, thought, art, etc here and there? Gosh, I hope not...We would already be out of line.

This conversation is rather tough on Clea's comment forum here. This is, for me, a complex issue one that requires an easier and more interactive form of communication. It (and I mean materialism, commercialism, etc), like parenting in general, also requires a ton of thought and consideration. Maybe I put too much into things, put I like to think that is all part of my charm. ha.

Thanks for the discourse though, this is a very useful exercise and is good debate - we need more of this in the world.

Anonymous said...

Wow, there is a lot of stuff here to respond to, but I will pick just a couple things. You mention, correctly, that we enjoy Sesame Street and TMBG - so I must not be a staunchly idealistic or absolute as you frame me to be. I like to think I am a pretty complex individual.
Do I realize there is a ton of S. Street gear out there - indeed I do. We own very little of it, just a couple books since we know the author of many of the Elmo's World books and a stuffed red fella and we went to Sesame Place once, which was enjoyable.
TMBG were one of my favorite bands growing up, their's was the first live musical experience I ever had - so they have a little place in my heart. Plus their music has always been perfect for kids - the transition seems natural. Do I think they approach selling their music to kids and the masses the same way as other big kid's bands? I have no idea, but I would like to think not exactly. And yes, I know they record for Disney (even though it has not come up, I dislike Disney a lot). Does all of this bug me a bit, yes it does.

"But you have specifically said that people should hate and be offended by The Wiggles and should not ever expose their kids to them."

I have never said this, any of it. Here is what I wrote:

"That stuff is just not art, which, if you are a fan of music - and I mean a real fan of music (forget all the hipster attitude stuff) - you SHOULD be offended by and should not want to expose your kids to that stuff."

I like to think that I have never encouraged or advocated the HATING of any music or art - especially of the kid's variety. Exposing kids to music and art, even what I deem to be the worst of the lot, is better than not doing so at all. I was simply clarifying "The real reason to hate them" , if you are already so inclined - to frame the arguement a bit more consisly. This, I think, is what Clea was complimenting me for, for clearing up a position (of hers and, as it turns out, mine) - not advocating or "selling" the position to others.

We went with the TMBG show with a lovely little girl who happens to love the yellow Wiggle AND TMBG. I would never try to get her to HATE a musical group she likes. It is kinda insane to even suggest that I would.

The Beatles references have me a little confused. From my memory, the Beatles grew up, challenged conventions, experimented musically, took chances socially and politically and crafted some of the most unique, sonically layered and imaginative rock music of all time - much of which was way ahead of it's time. How again are they similar to The Wiggles? If the Beatles were following some formula, that was some kind of advanced and well thought out plan.

You ask if I have a problem with driving a car, owning a computer, T-P, etc. Sometime, yeah. I understand how marketing works and that just about everything in life is made by one group to sell to another. I am not 100% sure to respond to this, since it kind of seems like an attact on me, or the part of me that is bothered by the rampant commercialism we see today, and the targeting of much of that to kids (see "The nag factor" in marketing textbooks). I am not going to apologize for being concerned as a parent about the way kids are handled and mishandled when it comes to advertising and marketing. I guess I carve Art out of this debate and focus on it more than anything else.

"Well of course, open it up to more diverse stuff, as an alternative... but not as an absolute replacement for stuff that is perfectly good for them that they might really love, like Barney and The Wiggles. "

Why must I make the diverse stuff an alternative only? I fail to understand the point of your statement. Why are you telling me and other parents that we all, essentially, must subscribe to things like Barney and The Wiggles?

Must I always vacation in Orlando with my kids? And only sprinkle in some interesting destinations where they can meet diverse people, culture, thought, art, etc here and there? Gosh, I hope not...We would already be out of line.

This conversation is rather tough on Clea's comment forum here. This is, for me, a complex issue one that requires an easier and more interactive form of communication. It (and I mean materialism, commercialism, etc), like parenting in general, also requires a ton of thought and consideration. Maybe I put too much into things, put I like to think that is all part of my charm. ha.

Thanks for the discourse though, this is a very useful exercise and is good debate - we need more of this in the world.

Anonymous said...

naturally, that was posted 5 times. Clea, could you please delete the extras? Thanks.

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