I honestly have to hold myself back from writing too much about Pandora’s Toddler Radio station. If I let myself, I could write endless posts about the hilarity/misery/agony/ecstasy that the rotation causes me on a daily basis. I spend most of my time in the car either gritting my teeth to get through some wretched auto-tuned Barney nightmare or weeping silently through some sappy Sesame Street song from my childhood. Once in a while, though, I’ll be humming along to something and I’ll suddenly realize what we’ve stumbled upon. These are not your typical nursery rhymes with dark histories or folk songs about dead girls; there are a lot of those, too, and they come up pretty often. This is just about…well, you’ll see.
For your entertainment, some songs that I’m pretty sure weren’t intended for toddlers:
- Day-O (the Banana Boat Song): This song is about, like, indentured servitude and drunk, sad dock workers. Just because it says the word “banana” a lot doesn’t make it a kids’ song.
- Elmo sings “Drive My Car”: Repetition of the phrase “beep beep, beep beep, yeah!” does not a children’s song make. This song is at best about a kind-of-bitchy starlet who is trading love for labor, and at worst, as Paul McCartney is reported to have said “an old Blues euphemism for sex.”
- Iko Iko: catchy, festive, I get it. However. The song (which, it turns out, has a fascinating history) is described by different sources as being about a) Haitian slave culture b) rival Mardi Gras gangs that stab each other in the street as a matter of course, and c) voodoo spirit possession. Also contains the line “look at my king all dressed in red…betcha five dollars he’ll kill you dead.” So…we know what my kid will memorize and sing at play group.
- Hallelujah: WHAT. Dude, this song is about lots of things, but mostly sex, and probably death. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful song, but I get the willies every time it comes up on the baby lullaby station. Bathsheba on the roof and David’s subsequent response are not, you know, the Wheels on the Bus.
On the other hand, though, each of these songs (minus Elmo, whose furry face I will see in hell) is more fun for mommy than the average toddler fare. Sadly, N basically only likes 100% baby music, and yells “no! no! no!” whenever anything else plays. He has recently let me get through “Belle” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” though. Kid loves a production number, just like his mama. That might be as good as it gets for a while.
Oh, Toddler Radio. I used to drive in peace before I knew ya.