MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Now, seven words that are music to the ears of many parents of young children. A new Dan Zanes album coming soon.
DAN ZANES (Singer): (singing) Everybody's talking about a day up at the lake. Let's get our bags and guitars and all the food that we can take. I'll meet you on the corner when sun decides to break. So, catch the train, oh come on out and catch it. Catch the train.
BLOCK: We've noticed a wide range of kids' music climbing up the music charts and landing in our mailbox these days. Much of it surprisingly listenable. And we asked Stefan Shepherd to listen to some of it with us.
He writes a kids music blog called Zooglobble. He's got a nine-month-old son and a four-and-a-half year old daughter. And listen to how Stefan Shepherd reviews the new CD Everyday is a Birthday by Brady Rymer. He writes on his blog, fans of the Wallflowers, Counting Crows and the Jayhawks will probably enjoy the musical textures here.
Mr. STEFAN SHEPHERD (author, blog Zooglobble): You know, obviously the kids aren't the ones going out to buy these CDs. I'm writing these reviews for parents who kind of listen to the same music that I listen to.
BLOCK: What's one of the Brady Rymer songs that you think is particularly listenable for parents?
Mr. SHEPHERD: One of the songs I really like is Instead of Watching My TV.
(Soundbite of Instead of Watching My TV)
Mr. BRADY RYMER: (singing) I'm gonna write a letter to my grandma Faye.
Mr. SHEPHERD: So they're gonna write a letter to their grandma, or their gonna plant some vegetables. Those are things that I think speak to the kid.
Mr. RYMER: (singing) ...instead of watching my TV.
Mr. SHEPHERD: The parent, however, I think hears the last line of every verse, which is instead of watching my TV, which Rymer almost sneers as if he's had some experience telling his own children to go out and do something else.
Mr. RYMER: (singing) ...Instead of watching my TV.
Mr. SHEPHERD: One of the things that I think a lot of the new artists try to do is speak to the kids and the parents simultaneously. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but I think the best songs have something to offer a kid on their level as well as the adults on their own level.
BLOCK: Now, I want to talk about somebody who's become a real superstar in this set and that's Laurie Berkner. She's got a new DVD out, We are the Laurie Berkner Band. You know, I was in the grocery store with my daughter not too long ago, she's three and a half, and she was sitting in the shopping cart belting out Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco.
(Soundbite of Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco)
Ms. LAURIE BERKNER: (singing) Oh Victor Vito and Freddie Vasco ate a burrito with Tabasco.
BLOCK: And a woman came down the aisle and said Laurie Berkner, I'll be having that song in my head for the rest of the day.
Ms. BERKNER: (singing) Hey Victor, hey Freddie, let's eat some spaghetti.
BLOCK: And there is something utterly infectious about these songs, I mean, that you cannot get them out of your head.
Mr. SHEPHERD: Well they're very simple, I mean, Berkner is writing for three year olds, so she's not trying to write songs that are as complex as artists that are targeting slightly older kids. But she has a great knack for melody.
BLOCK: Yeah. If you can rhyme something with Tabasco, you've got a hit.
(Soundbite of Justin Roberts song)
Mr. JUSTIN ROBERTS: (singing) I've got a friend...
BLOCK: Well somebody who's going after a slightly older kid audience is Justin Roberts and he's got a new CD called Meltdown. What do you think of that one?
Mr. SHEPHERD: Well, I really like it. I tend to prefer more indie-rock or alternative rock, and I think a lot of the songs fit very much in that genre of music.
Mr. ROBERTS (singing): What's his name? How should I know? He's our imaginary rhino and we think he's more wonderful because he's invisible.
BLOCK: Do you think we try too hard as parents to cater to our kids' taste? I mean couldn't you just put on an early Beatles album or a zydeco album and kids would love it?
Mr. SHEPHERD: That's true. I think one of the issues is what is the lyrical matter? What is the context of the song? The Beatles songs are great in that they're simple, but a lot of them revolve around romantic love. You know, I wouldn't want my daughter to hear nothing but songs about romantic love all day long. They're fun to dance to, and I have no problem playing the Beatles occasionally, but I also thing that there are other songs that are more age-appropriate lyrically or musically sometimes.
BLOCK: She probably does want to hold your hand, though.
Mr. SHEPHERD: Oh definitely. And she likes to dance and twirl.
BLOCK: Stefan Shepherd, good to talk to you, thanks so much.
Mr. SHEPHERD: You're very welcome.
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. ROBERTS:(singing) ...he's invisible, visible. Here we go rah-nah-nah-nah, rah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah. Rah-nah-nah-nah...
BLOCK: Stefan Shepherd's kids music blog is called Zooglobble. There's a link and more of the music we've heard at our web site, NPR.org.
(Soundbite of music)
Mr. ROBERTS: (singing) Now we're almost at the end...