On July 19th, 2011, Kidz Bop, the by kidz, for kids, musical juggernaut, released its 20th installment. On October 17th, 2011, I sat in my dorm room and listened to it in its entirety. My intention was to write a serious music review about the album. I had always thought Kidz Bop was stupid based solely on the commercials, but I figured it deserved to be given a chance. It didn’t. By the end I felt physically sick. After grabbing a barf bag and some tissues to clean the blood out of my ears, I proceeded to browse through previews of the other 19 albums on iTunes. It didn’t get any better. I even tried watching some Kidz Bop music videos on YouTube, but those were downright depressing. Before Kidz Bop, I had no idea just how terrible music can be in the wrong hands.
For those of you who have never heard of Kidz Bop, it is kind of like the Now That’s What I Call Music! franchise (which will soon be releasing its 40th installment!), except much, much worse. For those of you who have never heard of “Now!” it is a brand of pop music compilation albums. Essentially, it takes every song that is aggressively overplayed on the radio and puts them all in one place so you can aggressively overplay them together, in the comfort of your own home. How can it get worse than Now! you ask? While Now! is not something I would personally pay for when I can make my own mixes, I suppose I can comprehend why some people might. With Kidz Bop, however, I can find no logical reason why anyone would ever buy one of their CDs, unless we legalize torture.
Like Now!, Kidz Bop compiles the biggest hits on the radio into one CD, but unlike Now!, it remakes the background music with significantly worse production value and has a bunch of tone deaf kidz sing the whole thing while yelling out “wooooo!” and “oh yeah!” in unison for no reason at random points throughout the songs. They switch the gender of the singers constantly and seem to decide arbitrarily how many of the kidz should sing at a time. It’s like they’ve assembled an army of Rebecca Blacks who they brainwash and bi-annually send out to destroy every popular song of the past few months.
To fully understand what I am talking about, look no further than the first ever Kidz Bop CD’s rendition of Blink-182’s “All the Small Things”. I liked this song, until I heard the Kidz Bop Kids’ interpretation. The lead singer sounds like a drunken middle-aged man with lung cancer and the background singers sound like a gaggle of oompa-loompas strung out on cocaine. Who could have possibly been sadistic enough to put something so repulsive on the open market? And why haven’t they been tarred and feathered yet?
The terrible singing isn’t even the worst part; that honor goes to the lyrics. A lot of the popular songs on the radio today have lyrics that could be considered inappropriate for young children. Kidz Bop deals with this racy subject matter by subtly changing the original lines to more “kid-friendly” versions. Here are a few of the best lyric changes I found during my research, accompanied by some personal commentary:
Break Even by The Script
_Original_- “I’m still alive but I’m barely breathin’ / Just prayed to a God that I don’t believe in”
_Kidz Bop_- “I’m still alive but I’m barely breathin’ / Just prayin’ to a thing that I don’t believe in”
(Did they do this because they don’t want to encourage not believing in God or did they not want to mention God at all to avoid alienating all of the atheist kids listening? Are the kidz praying to false idols instead?)
Single Ladies by Beyonce
Original- “I’m up on him, he up on me / Don’t pay him any attention … Don’t be mad once you see that he want it”
KB- “I’m into him, he’s into me / Don’t pay him any attention … Don’t be mad once you see that he’s into it”
(Is being “into it” that much more appropriate than “wanting it”?)
Hey Soul Sister by Train
Original- “Like a Virgin, you’re Madonna / And I’m always gonna wanna blow your mind”
KB- “Like a popstar, you’re Madonna / And I’m always gonna wanna blow your mind”
Alejandro by Lady Gaga
Original- “She’s not broken, she’s just a baby / But her boyfriend’s like a dad, just like a dad”
KB- “She’s not broken, she’s just a baby / But her boyfriend’s like a friend, just like a friend”
Nothin’ On You by B.o.B and Bruno Mars
Original- “And you wild when you ain’t got nothin’ on”
KB- “And you out when you ain’t got anyone”
(This changes from a fun, wild time to a depressing and lonely night out. Why, Kidz Bop? This isn’t better.)
Tik Tok by Ke$ha
Original- “Before I leave/Brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack,”
KB- “Before I leave/Brush my teeth and then I go pack”
Original- “Tonight Ima fight til we see the sun light”
KB- “Tonight I’m alright, til we see the sun light”
(Fight? Seriously? And what’s so bad about the sun light that makes things suddenly not alright? Are these kids vampires?)
California Girls by Katy Perry ft. Snoop Dogg
Original- A verse by Snoop Dogg
KB- No rap whatsoever
Original- “The boys, break their necks, tryna creep a little sneak peek”
KB- “The boys break their necks, tryna act a little crazy”
Original- “Sunkissed skin, so hot we’ll melt your popsicle”
KB- “Sunkissed feet, so hot we’ll melt your popsicle”
(So a “popsicle” is appropriate but skin isn’t? And why would they choose feet? Do people often step on popsicles with their feet to melt them? Do the writers just have some kind of foot fetish? Did Rex Ryan have anything to do with this?)
The Lazy Song by Bruno Mars
Original- “I’ll just strut in my birthday suit, and let everything hang loose”
KB- “I’ll just strut with nothing to do, and let everything fall through”
Original- “Find a really nice girl, have some really nice sex. And she’s gonna scream out this is great”
KB- “Meet a really nice girl, send a really nice text. And she’s gonna write back you’re so great”
The majority of these changes make very little sense within the context of the rest of the song. Often, they replace things that aren’t even “kid-unfriendly” to begin with. These changes are unnecessary, as is the entire Kidz Bop brand.
According to Billboard magazine, (according to Wikipedia), the Kidz Bop Kids were the #1 kids’ artists of 2010 (ahead of Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, etc.). And they are beating these other kids with worse versions of their songs. The most recent album included songs by Justin Bieber and Willow Smith. I was amazed at how much less musical they were able to make Smith’s “Whip My Hair”. There are clean versions of these songs on iTunes, sung by the actual artists. Parents would be doing their children a great service by sparing them from Kidz Bop and just making them get the clean versions. Nobody can possibly argue that a single Kidz Bop version of any song has more musical value than the original.
Who is buying this? And why? The only logical demographic I can think of selling this to is pedophiles looking for pump-up CDs to play in their vans on the way to the park. This madness has gone on long enough. Too many people have been hurt. It’s time to put a stop to Kidz Bop.