Monday, August 24, 2009

Hip to be Square

I just reviewed my posts from the last couple of years and I can't find a post where I wrote about this particular topic, although it's been on my mind for quite some time.

I have noticed a trend in children's music...and in other aspects of parenting. It's this media hype that parents must be "hip" and raise their children with all things "hip."....hip music, hip books, hip clothing...blah, blah, blah. There are tons of articles and blogs on "hip parenting."

What exactly does "hip" mean in 2009?

I posed this question to a bunch of other children's musicians in a networking group in which I participate, and there were as many different answers as there were people. In general it seems to be that "hip" parents feel that they are on the cutting edge of pop culture, and wouldn't be caught dead providing their children with anything that might be considered "traditional" or "un-cool." Here's a quote from an editorial in the Toronto Globe that better explains what I mean:

Alternaparenting, it seems, is all about putting your kid in the right T-shirt. And not cutting you kid's hair (because Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson didn't). And furnishing the baby's room with a rocking Eames chair (even though it's uncomfortable)

Anyhow, I began to wonder about this trend when my music was rejected by a radio program for kids. This particular programmer was looking for music that was "hipper" than my stuff. Then it happened again with a reviewer, someone who writes a prominent online column about children's music. He said he preferred music with a more "raw" sound. HUH?

This leaves me at odds. You see, no one has EVER accused me of being "hip," not even in the 70's, when I was a teen. Back then, of course, it was not "cool" to call someone "hip," because "hip" was an outdated term from the 60's, but I guess it's "hip" again in the 2000's.

Nope, I was decidedly un-cool. I liked The Carpenters, John Denver and Barry Manilow. I wore their t-shirts to school. I listened to bubblegum pop and watch "Dark Shadows" regularly. I never drank or did any kind of drugs, and I was in the chorus AND band in my high school. I was fat, had acne and fine, limp hair. I didn't get invited to the right parties and when I went to college in 1977 I was the one who got kicked out of the dorm room so my room-mates could have boys over.

I never underwent some big transformation, either. If you check this blog for last summer's posts, you will see that I was absolutely giddy about meeting David Cassidy. That's NOT "hip." In fact, it's so unhip that I found out that particular post was flagged on some hipster website and over 700 people came to my blog to check it out and laugh at me. I'm not exaggerating either. Just like back in high school!

But getting back to the issue of music.....since I am not "hip" and never have been, I don't know how to write "hip" music. I try to write music that sees things from a child's perspective. Amazingly, this comes pretty easily to me because (as my daughter often says) my emotional development seems to have stalled at age eight! However, I don't know how to write for "hip" kids. I write for kids who like to catch bugs in jars, stomp in puddles, and wouldn't know Juicy Couture Kids clothing from something on a Target sales rack. I think this is pretty much all kids, until their parents sway them in some other direction.

Unfortunately, and I'm going out on a dangerous limb saying this...I suspect that these very same "hip" little kids are going to turn into really obnoxious teens. And I don't want to be around when they do.

So, I guess I'm never going to be very successful on a large scale in the children's music biz since I'm so un-hip. My music is decidedly influenced by The Partridge Family and The Monkees and when I perform I don't wear striped tights and crazy hats. Believe me, no one would want to see that!

I hope that parents, whether they are hip or un-hip, will let their kids hear my music and decide for themselves whether or not they like it. On the other hand, with luck, maybe someday I'll be so "un-hip" that I'll be "hip!" Stranger things have happened......

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