Reporting Jason Iannone
For some reason, many celebrities feel that because they’re famous for one thing, they should be equally famous for another. In this case, they want to sing to children. Shockingly, there are quite a few kid’s albums out here performed by famous people, far more than the allowable number of zero that God intended. Only a couple are any good; the rest are only worth buying if your child needs to be punished for doing something horrible. Lock them in a room, play any of these on repeat for a week, and they’ll never piss you off again.
Nick Swisher: Believe
Formerly of the New York Yankees, and currently of Somewhere Else, Nick Swisher was no longer content with awkward jock-speak and bland post-game press conferences. No, Swish needed to express himself through SONG…kind of. His album is nothing but straight-up covers of old songs. Because the world just isn’t complete without a 26,134,543rd person warbling through “Proud Mary” and “Everyday People.”
Mere singing’s not enough though; he recruited children for this venture. Every song features a gaggle of kids attempting to stay in key but, if you’re only half-paying attention (which is half more than you should be), you might miss them. They contribute backing vocals to each song’s chorus, and that’s it. Because nobody upstages Swish and The 4 Basic Chords Of The Acrapolypse!
Sure, it’s a charity album, but that’s no excuse to give us hokey crap. If Swish wanted to do something truly interesting to raise money, he should have just had people attempt to pronounce his nickname, Swisherlicious, and donated the video revenue. Random idiots sounding like they just lost their tongue in a fire? Instant dough! We’ll start!
Wayne Brady: Radio Wayne
Certain songs just should not be sung by anyone over the age of seven. Wayne Brady couldn’t care less, however. He’s going to take every one of those songs, and prove each and every one of us cynical doubters…absolutely right.
Radio Wayne is exactly what you would expect out of a Wayne Brady kid’s album. Namely, it’s cloying and no good. With songs like “Reading Can Be Fun,” and “Wash Your Hands,” it sounds like Brady is right in front of your child, trying WAY too hard to entertain. He’s singing, rapping, making silly sounds, and you just know he’s shamelessly mugging at all times. Even though he’s just in the studio, embarrassing whatever poor producer has to sit there and listen to a grown man sing “if I were asked to sing hippopotamus, I’d say why-not-amus.”
Then said producer sighs and pipes in more random animal sounds, to really hammer home the animal-centric nature of a song called “Talk To the Animals.” Because kids are stupid, and everything they consume should bear that in mind.
Meredith Brooks: If I Could Be
Yes, a real musician. Trust us though; it’s not cheating. Other musicians, such as Jewel, can put out a kid’s album and be just fine. Not Miss Brooks though. Shockingly, the woman who wrote “Bitch” has to try extra hard to be kid-friendly. The result is a sugar-infused mess. If your Mom ever got into your stash of Pixie Stix and just started bouncing around the house singing every stupid thought that came into her head, you already know what “If ICould Be” sounds like.
At least she took the time to be gloriously dirty, with “The Ball Song.” Meredith achieves AC/DC levels of subtlety with this one:
I love balls any day or time
It doesn’t matter to me if it rains or shines
I love balls, yes its true
Red, green, or blue
I love balls, 1-2-3
Tons of balls for you and me
So you sing about how much you love balls, and get every bored father’s undivided attention. Then you brag that you love blue balls too? That’s just cruel, Meredith. We’re starting to think you’re far more a bitch and a tease, and less a goddess on your knees. And that’s just depressing.
We don’t even wanna know what you’re thinking of when you fantasize about green balls. Perhaps she thinks she’ll gain more kid cred if she sleeps with Kermit.
Kathie Lee Gifford: Goodnight Angel
25 years of ruining daytime TV just wasn’t enough of a legacy for Kathie Lee. She decided her true calling was singing relaxing lullabies for the wee ones. And they sure are relaxing! So much so that this album actually contains a parental advisory sticker: not for profanity, but for warning against the use of heavy machinery while listening to this thing. Go ahead; look at the picture again. Squint if you must. We’ll wait.
No way we could’ve made this up; real life had to supply the jokes here. A woman made a CD of sleepy time tunes so dull and boring, that even adults on forklifts might fall asleep. That’s almost as impressive as her label worrying about adults listening to Katie Lee lullabies while driving a damn tractor. Because you can only listen to blood-pumping, energetic, manly music so often, before you just desire a change.
OK, that’s enough Negative Nancy for one day; now Positive Pete gets a turn at the wheel! Here are two celebrity kid’s albums done right. Probably the only two, to be honest.
Mr. T: Mr. T’s Commandments
Back when Mr. T was a real thing, and not a borderline mythological figure, he recorded Mr. T’s Commandments, a children’s rap album featuring such hardcore gems as “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” and “No Dope, No Drugs.” Like with Wayne Brady’s album, it’s exactly what you’d expect.
Unlike with Brady however, what you expect and get is awesomeness. T’s not exactly Jay-Z or Busta Rhymes, but he doesn’t have to be. All he needs to do is slowly growl out his words, sometimes to the point of slurring them, and kids will listen. So will parents, actually. The man used to be a bodyguard and a bouncer, and he could still rip your jaw in two, despite being 60. So yes, we’ll listen.
Kids can sense when you’re trying too hard, and Wayne Brady tried too hard. T barely has to try at all.
Johnny Cash: The Johnny Cash Children’s Album
Upon learning this album existed, we assumed it would be crap. We forgot two things: one, Johnny Cash is always awesome, even when singing about something asinine, like having his brain stuck in a chicken’s body. Two, we’re stupid.
The Johnny Cash Children’s Album, despite its uncreative name, is pretty damned good. Why? Because he didn’t talk down to kids in that cloying manner that so many do. Neither did T, really. Too many people assume kids are completely brainless, and require mugging and borderline baby talk to be happy. Not Cool Uncle Johnny though; he might have forgotten to sing about brushing your teeth and looking both ways when crossing the street, but he knew kids love a good story and good music, and gave them both in spades.
No, not every song is “wholesome” by today’s standards. He has a song about killing 100 bears, which he probably recorded after Big Bird turned it down. But, provided the parent is doing their job, and not relying on a country singer with a criminal record to do it for them, most children should be fine. They can listen, be entertained, move on with their day, and possibly be inspired to pick up a guitar, just like Johnny. All without killing one stinkin’ bear.
Or at least not 100 of them; unless you have the largest freezer in the world, that would be such a waste of meat.
Jason Iannone is a humorist and editor for hire. His Facebook is a rockin’ party, and his Twitter is the awesome afterparty. Tumblr is where he rides out the hangover, and archives anything he writes from anywhere.