Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pop! Classic #4

The Alphabet Song has been done by countless artists in all kinds of versions, quite some of which are probably better than this one here. But it's Tilly & the Wall! How could I possibly not post their version on this blog that's all about pop with a capital P?

They do attempt to turn it into a real Tilly & the Wall song of course, with the tapdancing, the shouting, the boys and the girls. It all nice, and the ABC Song is a classic in every language anyway (at least I know it in Dutch, English and German), no matter who sings it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

5+1=6 questions for... A Smile And A Ribbon

Yesterday I posted the song Honey bee by A Smile And A Ribbon. Today singer Rebecca Mehlman returns in '5+1=6 questions for...'

The Pop! For Kids Project: Hello Rebecca! What have you been up to recently?

Rebecca Mehlman: We've been rehearsing and recording the songs for our second album. Martin and I recorded the last album on our own, but this time around the other four members of the band will be an important part of the process as well. Instead of Martin's bedroom, we plan on recording most of the songs in our rehearsal room or in a studio. If you thought the lyrics on our debut album The Boy I Wish I Never Met were depressing, you've seen nothing yet!

TP!FKP: What are your earliest musical memories?

RM: My mom played Mozart's Elvira Madigan repeatedly for me when I was in the womb, and then again when I was born, so I would feel at home.

TP!FKP: Do you think good music is important for young children?

RM: Absolutely! Children remind me of people who are high, their senses are so keen and open to the world around them: colors, songs, beauty, feelings, and their imagination knows no limits.

TP!FKP: What's the best bit about being a musician?

RM: You get to travel even if you're too poor to afford a ticket, being in a band is like having a family, you get to turn life into art, people think you're cool, and I've heard you get lots of boys.

TP!FKP: Do you have any favourite children's songs?

RM: Disney has made some memorable tunes. I loved Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty when I was a kid, and I still do.

TP!FKP: What can you tell us about the recording of Honey bee, both the 1986 part and the grown-up part?

RM: Well the 1986 part is pretty personal, and I think listening to the song says it all. As for the grown-up part, I remember being inspired by Pascal Comelade and children's instruments. I went to the toystore and bought a xylophone (wood) among other things. 'Honey Bee' is a pretty bittersweet song, especially when I hear the distance between who I was in 1986 and and who I am today in that tiny voice. I don't think I knew what bitterweet was.

TP!FKP: Thank you Rebecca!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pop! #5: A Smile And A Ribbon - Honey bee

This next contribution by A Smile And A Ribbon from Sweden is really something very special. The foundation of the recording of this traditional nursery rhyme was built in 1986: it's vocals and piano by a then four year old Rebecca Mehlman plus the voice of her father making the announcements. Then in the present day Rebecca and Martin Lindqvist took that old recording and added the rest of the intruments. The result is this really intimate and innocent, previously unreleased song.

For those of you still unfamiliar with A Smile And A Ribbon, make sure to at least download the three free MP3s from their website to hear what a grown up Rebecca sounds like. You might just find yourself a new favourite band richer.

You can buy A Smile And A Ribbon's wonderful records here, here and here, or see what the band's up to on myspace and facebook.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pop! Classic #3

While we're waiting for some new exclusive TP!FKP-contributions to come in, let's have a look at another classic for some inspiration. I promise new songs will appear here soon, but these things do take time! The first three kind contributors just worked amazingly fast.

I don't believe that this below song is really filled with drug references as some people still claim. To me, it's only a sweet and pretty song about the lost innocence of childhood. A bit sad it is, isn't it ("A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys. Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys...")? But the melody is so lovely, and it always works very well to create a peaceful, quiet mood.

One of the things I love best about being a parent, is that it allows me to go back without any reservations to that almost forgotten fantasy world, be it Honah Lee or any other.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

5+1=6 questions for... MJ Hibbett

Last week MJ Hibbett presented us with his first effort to write a children's song in the form of his lovely Monster Island. Today is as good a day as any to ask Mark a little bit more about himself and his inspirations, in what will be a returning item on this blog: 5+1=6 questions for...

The Pop! For Kids Project: Hello Mark! What have you been up to recently?

MJ Hibbett: Lots! I'm just finishing off touring the two-man show version of my musical Dinosaur Planet whilst simultaneously writing the follow-up, 'Moon Horse VS The Mars Men Of Jupiter', which we'll be taking up to the Edinburgh Fringe this year. Me and The Validators are also busy doing final mixes for the huge concept album version of 'Dinosaur Planet', and any spare time I have left over after all that is currently being spent on February Album Writing Month, where you sign up to write a 14 track album in February. I'm five songs in so far, just about on schedule!

TP!FKP: What are your earliest musical memories?

MJH: Listening to my Mum singing in the kitchen - a song that involved someone's mum disappearing, which terrified me - and the song Yellow River being on the radio all the time. My Dad playing Tommy Gun's Theme on the guitar, which for about twenty years was the only song he could play, and would at very little provocation! And, of course, for anyone of my age, the arrival of the double album War Of The Worlds was an introduction to a whole world of excitement!

TP!FKP: Do you think good music is important for young children?

MJH: I think music is very important for children and for everyone - I didn't come from a particularly musical family and so it took me ages to get round to learning an instrument, but when it did it comepletely changed my life, for the better. The more people are involved with making music the better, but only when it's strictly for fun. I know loads of people who were forced to learn instruments like the violin or piano, which are much to difficult and boring for kids, and ended up being put off it for life.

I don't, however, think we need to worry about whether the music is 'good' or not. Children have very different needs and tastes from adults, so we shouldn't go around trying to make them listen to the sort of stuff we like - let them make their own mind up, they'll probably end up teaching us all a thing or two!

TP!FKP: What's the best bit about being a musician?

MJH: It opens up MASSIVE opportunities for Showing Off, which is pretty much my favourite thing in the world! It also allows you to be like a little kid again, grabbing people and saying "Listen to ME! Listen to what I MADE!" People are generally too polite to tell you to get lost, even as an adult!

TP!FKP: Do you have any favourite children's songs?

MJH: The songs I most enjoyed singing as a child were Christmas Carols with rude words put in - "We three kings of Leicester Square/Selling ladies' underwear" or "While Shepherds washed their socks by night", that sort of thing. They still fill me with exactly the kind of delight they always did!

TP!FKP: What gave you the idea for your musical 'Dinosaur Planet'?

MJH: I went to see someone doing a one-man version of Jeff Wayne's 'War Of The Worlds' a couple of years ago. As I say, I LOVE 'War Of The Worlds' and was very excited, but the whole thing was a bit dull and disappointing, so I decided to do my own one-man rock opera, and used various ideas I'd been talking about in the pub for years, based on cheap novels one of my friends used to read. That was more of a stand-up kind of show, with me explaining the story, which wouldn't really work as a recorded album so I wrote it all out with the intention of making a record and enjoyed it so much that I ended up turning it into a musical. The rest has been a) history b) expensive!

TP!FKP: Thanks Mark!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Not a review blog

To all the kind people sending music with review requests to my mailbox: thank you very much, but I'm sorry. I do listen, and I'm sure your music is often great and worth writing about... but I won't. That's just not the kind of blog this is.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pop! Classic #2

This R.E.M. video is so lame and cute at the same time that it never fails to warm my heart. Oh, and how awesome is that Kate Pierson Muppet (from the B-52s)? Quite, I'd say.

I realise it's a bit of a stretch to call this a 'classic', but to me it's a prime example of how an often too serious grown-up band can easily transform into a group of happy, enjoyable and entertaing guys once they embrace the idea of FUN. And isn't that what most great kid's music is all about?

"Come on monsters: you don't have to cry, we can be happy!"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pop! #4: Zipper - Tamagotchi

Zipper from Spain make heartwarming pop songs with a punky edge, sung in both Spanish and English. This catchy tune is about 'the most faithful pet that I have ever seen', the toy Tamagotchi (remember those?). It was one of the first songs David wrote for Zipper, but it has never found its way to an official release. This live recording with English vocals from Maria is from 2002, and premieres on the internet today especially for this project.

An interview I did with Zipper a while ago is still online on my other blog, for those of you who want to know a bit more about this band.

You can buy Zipper's music here, here and here. Oh, and here!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Pop! #3: Vom Vorton - The world is round

English Vom Vorton is Tom Morton, previously known as the singer and guitarist of the band Lardpony. Besides being Vom Vorton, Tom is currently also active in the band Of Mice And Mental Arithmetic. For this project, Tom kindly wrote and recorded this fun and 'educational' song about the great big ball we're all living on.

Very generously, you can download all of Vom Vorton's music for free from his website.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pop! Classic #1

In between the original MP3 contribtions for this blog I thought it would be nice to post some videos by the artists that inspired me to start this project.

Where else to start than with They Might Be Giants?

John Linnell from They Might Be Giants is quoted in a 2006 article in The Guardian:

"You can tell by listening to the vast majority of children's music that the people who are making it don't really feel like they have to hold themselves to a very high standard," says Linnell. If this assessment seems diplomatic to the point of being charitable, it's probably worth noting that he is resident in America and has therefore never seen either Hi Five or Tiny Pop. "As a result, you get this appalling stuff that parents have to sit through. And of course," he adds darkly, "children like to listen to stuff over and over again."

And this is exactly what we want to change here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pop! #2: MJ Hibbett - Monster Island

MJ Hibbett is an English singer-songwriter (or 'folkpop-poet', according to The Guardian), often recording with his Validators. 'Monster island' is the witty story of a kid who to his shock discovers that he and his parents are monsters. This great song was kindly composed and recorded solo by Mark especially for this project.

Buy MJ Hibbett's albums on Artists Against Success.