Children Tackle Hair Metal, Awkwardly, In Monster Ballads

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In our usual mail haul this morning, Rocks Off received an invitation to a porn store's grand re-opening (natch), a copy of the brand-new Fucked Up album, David Comes To Life, and the anxiously awaited Kidz Bop Sings Monster Ballads that we have been anxiously awaiting since its creation was first whispered about on Twitter.

Kidz Bop has been running since 2001, sanitizing huge pop hits for children every few months once they have a roster of singles to cover. They are sung by children, with the more adult lyrics changed to more palatable, less adult facsimiles. The voices of the kids are way poppy and smiley, with the songs' more depressing and heavy elements smoothed into talent-show dullness.

The Kidz Bop empire came on the scene about the same time as the Langley Schools Music Project was reissued to acclaim from the indie world in 2001. The 1976 recordings of rural Canadian school kids singing current and past pop hits like "Good Vibrations" and "Sweet Caroline" were heard all over, from parties to clothing stores. Spin "Desperado" for a quick, morose ride.

A decade later, a kids chorus would sing Radiohead's "Creep" on the initial trailer for Oscar winner The Social Network.

Where the Langley kids tapped into the childlike wonder of their pop songs, Kidz Bop features vocals with almost no connection to the lyrical content. They could be sung phonetically by children who lack any English-speaking skills. Maybe it's because the Langley kids were having fun and not hired-gun tykes with proverbial guns to their heads and dreams of American Idol superstardom in those same brain casings.

Which brings us back to the Monster Ballads, which hits stores on May 17, and features Poison's Bret Michaels on guitar and his daughters Raine and Jorja on Michaels' ballad "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." It's easily the sweetest song on the album, considering all that has happened to Michaels health-wise in the past year.

As for the other 14 tracks, you get children covering Motley Crue ("Home Sweet Home"), Guns N' Roses ("Patience") and most creepily and suggestively, Whitesnake ("Is This Love"). The Crue and Guns are sick fun, considering the hardcore drug addicts that wrote the originals. As for their take on Damn Yankees "High Enough," you will miss the epic guitar work of Ted Nugent, and wish that the Kidz Bop players remade the police shoot-out video.

All and all, this edition of Kidz Bop isn't the oddest one - no, that award goes to their cover of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody," featuring a male lead vocal augmented by a funky R&B siren. The version of Beyonce's "If I Were a Boy" is heartbreaking, or hilarious, because it could be construed to be about a little girl unsure of her sexuality.

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