Thursday, July 14, 2005

Karaoke Queen

Hazel's favorite passtime is karaoke. She doesn't know that's what it's called, but that's what she does, pretty much all day long. She's not really much of an outside girl - she likes to water the flowers and play in her playhouse, and that's about it. I have to talk her into going to the park or the library. Occasionally, I resort to bribing her, if I'm really craving outside activity and she's bent on her own familiar agenda: karaoke.

She has six CDs in her regular rotation; two are by Dan Zanes and the other four are by Laurie Berkner. She can be convinced to mix thing up a little by throwing on some Bob Marley, a staple of her infancy, some Toots and the Maytals, or maybe even some Wilco, but after a couple of songs, it's back to the usual.

I don't mind the Dan Zanes CDs at all - in fact, I love them. All the songs on all his albums are standards, written by old folk artists like Woody Guthrie, and all the music is arranged by Dan. He incorporates human beat boxers, tubas, accordians, pedal steel guitars and guest singers like Deborah Harry, Lou Reed and Rankin' Don, a dancehall superstar. Dan doesn't condescend to his target demographic, but rather he expands their minds through really thoughtful, creative, innovative music. It's music that kids enjoy without being kid's music. Big difference.

Laurie Berkner is... well, what you'd expect from a person who makes kid's music. I don't know what the producers and sound engineers over at Noggin did, but her songs sounds about a thousand times better there than they do on CD. She can be a little grating, with her semi-yodels and frantic cheerfulness, but she does have some great, catchy songs. She must be doing something right, cuz Hazel listens to her night and day, like a junkie.

Hazel likes to listen to one or two songs at a time, memorize the lyrics, then move on. She will literally listen to one song 100 times in a day. I am not exaggerating, as anyone who went through the "Hit the Road, Jack" phase with us can testify to. She stands, facing the stereo, in a trance-like state, with her feet planted and her knees bending to the beat. She bobs her head around and either claps along or keeps her arms still, depending on how hard she's concentrating on the words. When the song ends, she repeats it. And repeats it. When she feels confident that she's learned most of the song, she cranks up the volume and cuts loose, dancing, singing at the top of her lungs (on key!) and jumping on the furniture.

Although I frequently curse myself for teaching Hazel how to operate the CD player, I enjoy having a kid who appreciates music as much as Mike and I do. She even likes Mike's band, Las Pulgas, and knows all the words (of course) to their versions of "California Stars" and "Molly's Lips." Hazel is our punk rock girl. She's gonna kick ass at the karaoke bars in college.


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