I used to pride myself on listening to the newest, hippest indie and electronic music. I’ll never forget the year my best friend and I went to SXSW, cramming a hundred bands into four fabulous days. It was amazing to be on the pulse, to see Bon Iver and the guys from Mumford & Sons before they became famous. Music has always been my lifeline. I get that itchy feeling if I’m in a quiet room with no music playing. I always know the right song for each mood, and I love it when date night includes a small music venue with a talented new DJ or one of my favorite rock bands. For years I’ve curated my musical tastes to be exactly how I like them, to represent every part of my personality.
… And then I had children. At first, my Spotify app became dappled with lullabies and Mozart for Babies. As my daughter grew older, I threw in a little Laurie Berkner and Anna Banana Band. From an early age, we’d indulge in some pop music, too. I’d play her the classics I’d grown up with—a little Mariah, some Ace of Base or TLC—but then it was always back to listening to music on my terms. Stuff like Bowie or Gold Panda.
I was still in control—of my Spotify, my stereo, my ears. It wasn’t until my daughter went to kindergarten that things really started to change. I’ll never forget the day. Trixie came home from school with a friend, the two of them singing and dancing. And then it happened. When I was least expecting it, they asked me to play “Timber,” by Ke$ha and Pitbull. It was like that scene from Psycho when Anthony Perkins pulls the shower curtain on Janet Leigh and starts stabbing her, except, instead of a knife, I was being slowly bludgeoned by my daughter’s crappy taste in music.
I mean … Timber. Where do I even begin? Is it the line, “She says she won’t, but I think she will,” or maybe the one about Miley Cyrus twerking in her bra and thong? There are so many gems, it’s hard to keep track. Honestly, I don’t think my daughter has a freaking clue about Pitbull’s gagworthy intentions in this song, but it’s pretty damn nasty. You may be wondering: Why don’t you listen to the Kidz Bop version? Y’know, the version where they replace Pitbull’s lecherous twang with a bunch of wholesome pre-teens repeating the only non-offensive part of the song (the chorus) over and over again. I mean, who wouldn’t want to
subject themselves to opt for that?
But, we have. Oh yes, we have listened to Kidz Bop. I have succumbed to those sassy, untalented, soul-and-sound-sucking demons. Maybe I’m a bad mom (don’t answer that), but I also have musical standards, and even if Pitbull and Ke$ha promote an unsavory message, Kidz Bop might actually be the devil.
Eventually, I had to put my foot down and give Kidz Bop the ax. Mostly, I have trained my daughter to overlook the bad words so that we can listen to the original songs. They’re still pop songs, still fluff. But it’s worth it, even if I do catch her saying, “You PMS like a bitch,” (thanks, Katy Perry), or “I got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it,” (h/t LMFAO). It’s still better than hearing my daughter mimic ridiculous lyrics like, “Here’s my cup, put some water in it.” Liquor, it’s supposed to be liquor! Amirite, Bruno?
Kidz Bop is mostly out of our lives now, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still listen to more cheesy pop music than I’d ever anticipated, past the tenth grade. It’s like, somehow I created this world where my Spotify Daily Mixes consist of Taylor Swift and Shawn Mendez. Who the hell is Shawn Mendez anyway, and why does he need stitches? Because his girlfriend won’t kiss him? Move on, dude!
The fact that I even know who these people even are is a bad sign. I’m losing my grip, my cred. Instead of being up-to-date on bands and new sub-genres, now I know when Selena Gomez has a new single out. I know the damn music from Disney’s Descendants, for f*ck’s sake! In one way, I feel like a failure as a human being. But, in another, I feel like I’m bonding with my kids in one of the best ways ever. We sing together; we perform; we emote. Less and less am I in the front row at small concerts, not-dancing with the other hipsters, but now I’m learning some pretty sick Beyoncé move in my living room, thanks to “Just Dance.”
The reality (my reality), is that I can’t be a music geek forever. I’m too old for that sh*t. I’ll always be into music, and I’ll still seek out indie playlists and peruse local concert listings, but it feels kind of relaxing to not work as hard at it. Like I’m passing on the gauntlet. It’s time for my kids to be in charge. Even if that means listening to Kidz Bop—JK! Anything but that.