Thursday, April 7, 2011

Culture - My Play List


Once upon a time, I fancied myself a music critic. For my first three years of UCLA, I was a music writer and editor. I attended concerts twice a week and interviewed bands and artists on a regular basis. I had first pick of newly released CDs and knew everything about each new KROQ band to hit the scene. My passion for the arts grew as quickly as my hearing deteriorated.

In short, it was heaven. (I imagine heaven is filled with free shit and loud music. And hot lead male singers.)

I developed my own tastes in music that included mostly alternative rock. Yes, we’re talking about Third Eye Blind, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Marilyn Manson, Hole, Live, Garbage… I loved that job and I don’t think I’ll ever do anything as rewarding and fun again in my life. Besides being a mom, of course. *cough*

In graduate school, my taste for Broadway showtunes flourished alongside more worldly discoveries such as Fela Kuti. Living in New York, eating great food and studying the arts… I thought I was pretty f-ing awesome. And I was, if only in my head.

And I’ve always had a liking for the pop music. I’m a sucker for a catchy melody. As you can see from my other posts, I’m not a cultural snob. (I regard Bravo TV as highly as I do Masterpiece Theater.)

But somewhere around 2004, my music education was stalled and stuck in the muddy trenches of motherhood.

Whilst driving the little chupacabras around town, I’m usually entertaining them with the sweet sounds of Mickey Mouse or the Wiggles while bypassing “American Idiot” on the iPod. I’d shed a small tear and say a little prayer for God to keep Billie Joe on Broadway long enough for me to come see the show. Recently I heard my prayers were brutally rebuffed.  

So I decided enough was enough.

I could no longer let motherhood suck away my entire identity. I could not let Glee be my only window to the current Top 40. I was going to listen to my music and so were the punks.

I call it an education in media literacy. I’m not going to raise my kids in a bubble. I will expose them to popular culture while simultaneously teaching them how to properly interpret the words, symbols and messages being delivered to them.

So here’s my current iPod playlist and the syllabus of Maya and Lincoln’s cultural enlightenment:

Cee Lo Green “Forget You” – I decided to begin each car ride with something upbeat. And it doesn’t hurt that the original lyrics include the f-word. I tell the little children that this song is a lesson on the evils of materialism trumping true love. They don’t fully understand now but that’s ok. It’s probably best that they meet that rich someone, marry him or her and save the true love for their mama. We just won’t dance to this song at their wedding.

Florence and the Machine “Dog Days Are Over”  -- This song was like crack for me from the first moment I heard it on the MTV Music Awards. It’s dramatic, soulful and catchy. I think it’s about someone running away from happiness and love. It’s a very practical message.

Adele “Rolling in the Deep” – Her voice is addicting. I tell Maya that she’s living proof that you can have it all – talent, good looks, British citizenship and cheeseburgers. I want to be her. She’s 21 years old. She’s perfect.

Katy Perry “Teenage Dream” – Completely inappropriate for my preschoolers. But it’s a guilty pleasure. And the only Katy Perry song in my library, thank you very much. I just tell Maya that “let’s go all the way tonight” means “let’s go all the way to the park.” Maya: At night? 
Me: Yes, and that’s very dangerous so never go all the way….anywhere….ever.

Amy Winehouse “Rehab” – As you can see, I’m a little behind the times in my music downloads but better late than never, right? For this one, I instruct the wee ones that drinking grown-up beverages is bad news.
Maya: Like beard?
Me: Yes, exactly. Like beer.
Maya: But I’ve already had beard.
Me: You were only three and it was because you thought it was Tata’s apple juice. Did you enjoy it?
Maya:  No! It was gross!
Me: That’s because it’s the devil’s nectar and because beer tastes like liquid Fritos. Don’t touch it, or soda, ever again.

White Town “Your Woman” – It’s just fun. Fun beat, fun tune and fun to fuck with Maya’s mind. Yes, a man is singing, “I could never be your woman.” Why, Mama? Irony, my dear.

Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” – I’m not sure what the educational value is here. But it sure is hilarious to hear Lincoln say “Lady Gaga! Lady Gaga!” Probably not so hilarious to Larry or my dad.

These seven songs will usually get me to any destination in Orange County. For longer trips, we’ll listen to the Glee soundtrack or Wicked or Hairspray.

Some experts, or know-it-all mommies, would probably suggest I listen to classical music or foreign language CDs in the car. All I have to say is that when your tweens are into Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers, mine will be into Broadway music and alt rock from the late 1990s. Which path do you find more tolerable? Or, let me put it this way, would you rather your child be slutty, sequined-shrug-wearing drama queen or a gay drug addict?

Don’t answer that. 

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