Even before our twins were born, we played good music for them. Lying in bed, my hubs would hold his phone up to my belly, and we’d laugh as our son started to kick along to Metallica. Once they were born, both the boy and the girl loved music. In addition to "The Wheels on the Bus" and "Old McDonald," they were schooled in all genres of pop music, from ABC to Michael McDonald.
Our music appreciation lessons worked. Our son had an early Michael Jackson obsession and little girl loved everything from Rick James to Madonna.
Listening to music during meals, during car trips and, of course, for frequent impromptu dance parties, we felt pretty confident that we were instilling in them a love of great music. We were pretty sure they were the only preschoolers who knew all the words to Fleetwood Mac’s "Rumours" album. When they requested that the guitarist at their 3rd birthday party play “Second Hand News,” we mentally high-fived one another.
We were not those people who spent 5-hour car trips hostage to the likes of Raffi. Our kids knew how to rock, and it was because we were super cool parents with great taste in music.
Then, they turned 5. And something happened: the twins discovered Kidz Bop.
If you’re not familiar, Kidz Bop is today’s greatest hits sung by kids FOR kids. That basically means that the lyrics of your typical pop songs are cleaned up (Bruno Mars’ "That’s What I Like": “Hang by the fire at night, strawberry milkshakes on ice—lucky for you that’s what I like”) and sung in a pre-pubescent twang that only a parent at the school end-of-year talent show could love.
The audience screamed ...
I tried playing the original versions of the pop hits for them, but quickly found that they actually preferred the Kidz Bop versions. (I know!) Maybe it was just more relatable to their young ears—or maybe if you played Kidz Bop 33 backwards, you’d hear Satanic messages, I wasn’t sure. But we were soon in a full-on, Kidz Bop main, and this was one crazy train neither of us or even Ozzy knew how to stop.
Then things really got complicated.
My son asked me to check the Kidz Bop website and was dismayed to learn that you had to be 9 in order to audition. He wanted nothing more than to be like his favorite stars, Cooper, Freddy, Sierra, Ahnya, Isaiah and Julianna. He obsessively watched the video for "24 Carat Magic" and beamed with delight, watching as the Kidz ran around Legoland performing their cuss-free songs.
So when I heard that the Kidz Bop kids were playing a concert in Coney Island, I knew that we had to attend.
As the day of the show approached, I actually got very excited to surprise the twins with the T-shirts and tickets. I remembered how excited I was for my first concert—David Bowie on his Glass Spider Tour—and OK, so this wasn’t Bowie. It wasn’t even live music—the kids sing along to a backing track—but this was their jam, not mine.
The twins waited patiently in their third-row seats for their idols to take the stage. When the Kidz entered, singing on motorcycles and wearing gold lame jumpsuits, you could feel the excitement in the air.
The audience screamed, some got up to dance, some laughed in glee and pooped their pants. Really, it was just your typical rock show.
And for the next few hours (including an intermission during which the audience members and stars could try to make pee and grab more juice boxes) we sang and danced like crazy. At one point, the children in the audience were invited up toward the stage to dance.
“You stay over there, Mom,” my son said, as I tried to accompany him to the front. And at that moment, I felt old. This was their music, and rock 'n roll is for the young.
Without irony, I sang along to the Kidz Bop original, “Best Time Ever.” And it really was.
Additional photos by Ronnie Koenig