Written by Caballero Oscuro
One recent sunny afternoon, my wife and I were walking with our three-year-old daughter near the USC campus when we were approached by a drunken fratboy who noticed my daughter’s Yo Gabba Gabba t-shirt and enthusiastically proclaimed “that’s my favorite show ever!” He then proceeded to regale us with his rendition of one of the show’s signature songs before continuing on his extremely merry way. Clearly, Yo Gabba Gabba is a show that reaches well beyond its target preschool audience, and the show’s music is a large part of the reason. Unlike most other preschool programming, YGG has a certain cool factor that gives it broad demographic appeal and also exposes the tots to some pretty great tunes.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s something like a Sid and Marty Krofft production as envisioned by a Japanese vinyl toy maker, with five main characters in unique costumes who magically come to life when the sole human host removes them from his boom box toy chest. That human sets the tone of the show immediately with his b-boy style, with his aforementioned boombox, thickframed glasses akin to Run DMC or Spike Lee’s Mars character, and his name, DJ Lance Rock. Yes, this is the kids show for the post-hip hop generation, and as such it borrows heavily from the golden age of hip hop. Frequent guest star and legendary hip hop pioneer Biz Markie appears on the CD and in most episodes in an instructional beatbox segment, while newer acts such as The Roots and Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark perform in musical segments. Most importantly, the show’s best songs are extremely electro-flavored, with thumping 808 bass and hip hop hooks that travel far closer to “Planet Rock” than Planet Disney. Whether the star characters are rapping about a “Party in my Tummy” or declaring “I Like to Dance”, the energetic electro influence is omnipresent and entirely welcome.