Sunday , May 19 2024
Kid-tested, mother-approved! A clever, witty, and funny...children's album.

CD Review: Justin Roberts – Meltdown!

It was with some trepidation that I decided to review the latest album by Justin Roberts, a growing star in children’s music. I braced for inane, annoying, repetitive songs — along the lines of the Barney theme song — which would bounce through my head all night long, with me waking up sweating and screaming.

When I think of children’s music the adjectives “clever,” “witty,” and “funny,” are not the first to come to mind. But those are words I would use to describe Robert’s album, Meltdown! The album is scheduled to be released March 21.

“I Chalk,” the first song on the album, reminds me of drawing chalk pictures on my mother’s driveway with my nieces. The lyrics to that song – my favorite on the album – are illustrative of the singer’s style:

Outside our house, the neighbors just gawk (or maybe not)
Why can’t they see there’s a museum on our block
All the grown ups they just stand around and talk
I chalk, I ch-ch-ch chalk
Sister and me, drew dragons and kings (with tiny wings)
While all the grown ups talked about their grown up things
I drew a monster’s door and made sure it was locked
I chalk, I ch-ch-ch chalk
But you won’t believe what happened the next day
I went to leave and they’d washed it all away
Yeah, my paintings were gone
Because they fed the lawn
But I will start again
With Ch-ch-ch chalk!
You can’t stop us with those sprinklers on the block
Cause I chalk, I ch-ch-ch chalk…”

There are songs about common problems encountered by children, including blaming siblings for problems, learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels and dealing with meltdowns by parents. One of my other favorites on the album is “Our Imaginary Rhino,” about a family setting a place at the dinner table for a child’s imaginary friend. The song ends with a twist, though, as the imaginary rhino has his own imaginary friend and insists another place be set at the table:

Now we’re almost at the end
But our rhino’s got this friend
That no one can see he’s imaginary
So we sing rhino come on, come on, come on
Stop making things up
But the rhino seems so sure
That politely we defer and set the table for more
Cause it’s more than super fino
When you’re imaginary rhinos
Who take the invisible
And make it all visible…

The songs evoke the wide-eyed curiosity and wonder with which children approach the world, not to mention just trying to understand these languages adults speak. Take, for example, “More Than Just a Minute”:

The sun is out and the sky is blue
Mama can I go to the park with you
And she says ‘Just a minute’
She says ‘Just a minute’
But sometimes when my mama says
Just a minute
She means more than just a minute…

The narrator describes his grandmother’s age as “many, many, many, many minutes.” The song ends with this:

But then I kiss my mama on the cheek
And I feel like I’m more than just a minute
For that minute I’m more than just a minute.”

If you have kids and are looking for an album that both you and your child can enjoy that does not involve television characters, this album is just what you need.

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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