A Prince Among Mice
by Kathy O’Connell
I gave myself a Disney day recently, listening to new releases from the House of Mouse. You could build a small mall with the raw materials from the enormous output of Disney Records.
Alas, the days of automatically trusting anything with the name “Disney” for quality are over. These ears waded through a lot of audio frogs before discovering the princely soundtrack from Disney Channel’s movie Jump In! Imagine High School Musical for an urban audience, and you have Jump In!
This album is energetic, rhythmic, and uplifting in its message of being true to your dreams. Jump In! is set in a Brook-lyn neighborhood gym, with double Dutch jump rope and boxing replacing the “high school musical.” Common elements for success include an engaging cast of actors bringing enormous enthusiasm to this musical tale.
The hard-edged rhythms package a message of “what does it mean to just be me” (from “Where Do I Go from Here,” sung by Sebastian Mego). Drew Seeley’s “I’m Ready” says that “I think that we’re the same deep down in our hearts.”
The hip-hoppy “Gotta Lotta” may be the greatest double Dutch song ever created, a multi-layered mix of electronic sounds, Prima J’s vocals, and the ever-present beat that makes the listener want to Jump In!
This album targets older kids, but little ones will enjoy the ride. www.Disneyrecords.com.
Inspiring Hip Hop
The same audience that will jump to Jump In! will enjoy the positive, inspirational hip hop of The Movement from The Figureheads. Their label, Kiddo Publishing, is a Wisconsin-based company “serving the next generation through music and mentorship.” The lyrics of The Movement speak to the power of each individual. Each song sells its theme through excellent production and powerful rhythms.
Kids will hear about “Identity” (“it’s hard to want to be me”), about “T.I.M.E.” (“we need to make room for you and me”), and also about “Love” (“will hold it all together”). Parents should lis-ten and learn with their kids, since the songs address real kids’ issues with parents who don’t always have the “T.I.M.E.” for them. One complaint: The lyrics are difficult to read. This could diminish its use as a teaching tool.
Luckily, the performance of The Figureheads translates the poetry into musical empowerment. Learn more at www.kiddopublishing.com.
Amazing and Gross
The Asylum Street Spankers’ Mommy Says No! CD mixes a bunch of musical genres into something amazing, and sometimes amazingly gross. Warning: When you purchase an album containing a song called “Boogers,” you get what
you pay for.
The title track rocks hard with a litany of all the kid activities to which Mommy Says No!
“Training Wheel Rag” laments a world that moves just a little more slowly than everyone else’s two-wheeled pace. Yet, these folks can bring home a jazzy rendition of the classic “Everybody Loves My Baby” (“but my baby don’t love nobody but me”) that refocuses the old song into an up-tempo tune. It’s at www.asylumstreetspankers.com.
Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody-award-winning Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.