It's a cliche to say that every little girl wants to be a princess or a tomboy. However the motif follows through into children's music. Many female recording artists are seeking to "empower" their audience, even though they tack on "Miss" as their surname – Miss Nina, Miss Amy, etc. As for fantasy, Elska created an entire Nordic island and culture. Princess Katie rocks out in a tiara. I could say that Joanie Leeds is an ethnic princess, but that stretches the argument to the breaking point.
Two new entries this month are Demi Mays and Friends with DANDELION and Dani's BEAUTY LAND. To some extent I'm mixing apples and oranges, but both performers are attempting to reach young children and expose them to new ideas. Dani's music is more advanced and there's a story at the center of the CD. Demi's album is aimed at a younger, less sophisticated audience. If anything, it goes back to the "princess versus tomboy" concept.
BEAUTY LAND follows a brother and sister, Jimmy and Lulu, trying to escape the title setting, "a wonderful place filled with beautiful colors and candy treats." Um, then why do they want to escape? Sign me up! They come across odd characters ("Strange Little Witch," "Tree Creatures") and learn the geography of the fairy tale ("Mountain King, "Ocean").
A Chicago native who relocated to Los Angeles for a career in the music business, Dani is giving the children's recording industry a try. She's got some impressive backing, with top-level videos and a music video production company on her team. Still, it comes down to what your pre-tween is willing to listen to. Selling children's music is tough and narrowcasting makes it even tougher. I couldn't quite place the fractured accent Dani attempts on "Tree Creatures," but then again, it's a fantasy for little girls, not middle-aged bloggers.
Demi Mays' DANDELION comes through Growing Sound music, a non-profit company
that develops music and other products that translate key findings from recent child development research into practical and entertaining products for teachers, parents, and children. Specifically, fun and interactive music for young kids. Their motto could be "get 'em before they're ready for school." The CD is mostly written by GS's David Kisor, an imposing PhD of musical talent who channels his energies into youthful audiences.
When you get right down to it, any CD targeted at two year old's is going to be pretty simplistic. "Only Food in My Mouth" pretty much encapsulates its mission in five words. "Baby Animal Song" does it in three. Demi has a clear, lilting singing voice and you can almost see the kids swaying as she sings, "The Sun Always Shines." The CD ends with an extended instrumental version of "Way, Way Deep" intended for quiet time. We could use that more than the youngster these days.
I've commented over the past few years about how having a second child, nine years later, has re-introduced me to basic concepts through children's music. Now that the toddler is turning into his own person (turning four in eight weeks), it's hard to believe that once again, we are "aging out" of music for very little people. But DANDELION is just the thing for his smaller cousins. Ironically both boys, but I'm sure they're being raised as if they are little princes.
BEAUTY LAND is available from Dani's website, Amazon, and iTunes.
DANDELION is available from Growing Sound's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.
Here is the video for BEAUTY LAND: