by Adam Gold
I guess being someone who writes about contemporary music obligates me to have my ear to the ground at least a little bit. Having the five decades that precede this one on encyclopedic lock-down just isn't enough. I'm expected to know all the words to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" as well as have a familiarity with whichever band's collective nutsacks are currently covered in Pitchfork slobber. Since It's an equivocal truth that children's music is now more relevant than modern jazz or blues--and soon rock. (Think about it--has an important jazz record come out since Bitches Brew?) Should that include having a basic cursory knowledge of music that my 7-year-old niece is listening to? I ask because the pediatric-tinged musical juggernaut The Wiggles are coming to the 10,000-capacity Municipal Auditorium Friday night.
Until now I'd never even heard of them. Does that mean I should turn in my rock critic badge and gun?
Five minutes of hasty internet sleuthing (i.e. Wikipedia) has told me that they're an Australian children's group who have:
written new music each year since their inception [and] sequester themselves for a month each summer and write three albums' worth of original children's music based on simple concepts familiar to young children and upon several genres of music and types of instruments.
Three albums a year?! They're the goddamn Guided by Voices of children's rock. One band puts out unwieldy amounts of low fidelity genius that sells like dial-up internet service to the impenetrable demographic of pear-shaped beer-guzzling audiophiles like myself, while the other puts out unwieldy amounts of Barney-esque pop for rug rats the world over. In fact, over the course of their career, The Wiggles have earned 17 gold, 12 platinum, three double-platinum and 10 multi-platinum awards for sales of over 17 million DVDs and four million CDs. Wow. Anything that manages to be that prolific, with that much success, intrigues me. Especially if it happens without my having ever heard about it. And to exploit children in the process? Geez.
And this shit has been coming out since 1991? I was a child in 1991, and I wasn't hip to this? Man, I've been out of the loop since the beginning. The founders of The Wiggles were in another children's group--The Cockroaches--for 12 years before the inception of the band. These guys must be a hundred fuckin' years old. And singing children's songs. Something about that just screams the word "sociopath" over and over again to me. Am I being hypercritical? Is what they're doing just pure, innocent, wholesome and well-intentioned? Or is that really latent evil I see in their eyes? Whatever the case may be, these guys are taking in some serious dough.
I know what you're going to say: It's kids music, so why would I even given a shit about their phenomenal dynasty of success? Well, I just wanna be included. I watched the above video for The Wiggles performing their hit "Fruit Salad" while on mushrooms and can say that I got AT LEAST as much enjoyment out of it as a 5-year-old would. There is something really creepy and unsettling about the maniacal melodies of children's songs and these have been haunting my nightmares since stumbling across the band's catalog a few days ago. Some of the songs are actually decent pop tunes. Others are just dreadful, horrifying and, dare I say, sinister. Either way, I'm going to this show and I'll be TRIP. PING. BALLS.