I’m not much of a YouTube follower, but the other day I came across something amusing. A young couple had recorded themselves perfectly lip-synching a catchy Disney duet from the film “Frozen” in the front seat of the car while driving with their two tots in the backseat who were oblivious to their parents’ mad skills.
These young parents fabulously portrayed the parenting occupational hazard of unintentionally acquiring a juvenile music repertoire. I remember those years of listening to Disney soundtracks and vocal Veggie Tales in the car to keep little ones entertained. (This was during the primitive era before toddler iPad apps.)
Even if I wanted to tune into the radio for some grown-up stimulant, there’s no way I was going to risk subjecting my babies’ tender cerebral formation to the suggestive vocal wailings of Britney Spears, post Mousketeers.
While many tot tunes are catchy, once my kids got older I was definitely ready to hear what songwriters besides Randy Newman were up to. But when you’ve got teenagers, you quickly learn that drive time is a rare occasion when they are within a ten-yard radius of you without an offering of food so you have to capitalize on the opportunity.
I gladly relinquish car audio privileges if my kids choose to turn on the radio instead of inserting earbuds or pulling out their cell phones because that means we might actually converse! Sure, it will be over the blasting of alternative band whining or a techno mega-mix pop/hip-hop/rap/Taylor Swift fusion, but beggars can’t be choosers.
Such an opportunity presented itself recently when I was driving my thirteen-year-old son to soccer practice. Though he was engrossed in a Bruno Mars lip synch I initiated contact, “So Bruno is pretty legit.”
He looked at me like I was a green vegetable on his dinner plate, “Mom, duh, nobody says ‘legit’ anymore. It’s ‘sick.’”
“Right, sick, I knew that.” I was blowing it! I tried to recover with a new topic, “Are you excited about the soccer season?”
My son sighed and said, “Can we just listen to the music, please Mom?”
“Sure, that’s cool . . . I mean sick.”
He rolled his eyes and cranked the volume on a Rihanna song, “We found love in a hopeless place. We found love in a hopeless place. We found love in a hopeless place.”
Yep, that’s the whole song.
One lyric line sung over and over using about four notes with a mind-numbing techno-beat. I was ready to revert to the days of listening to “The Little Mermaid” soundtrack for the thousandth time.
Though I’d been asked politely to can it, I was weary of being the second-class sound citizen in the car so I spoke up, “Really? This is your generation’s great musical genius? One line monotonously belted by an auto-tuned diva set to a digitized beat? I feel like I should be in a spin class. Though he’s major retro, Barry Manilow could teach this generation a lesson about catchy songwriting. He mastered the brilliant formula of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, key change chorus.”
My son responded, “That president of Africa dude who just died wrote music?”
At least we were talking.