It's hard to talk about Kidz Bop. Sure, it's easy to make fun of the series of albums' watered-down version of modern pop, but it also feels like going after low-hanging fruit. That doesn't mean that the music isn't awful, because it is, but one could argue Kidz Bop provides a necessary service.
Much like knockoff iPads exist so that clueless grandparents can try and do the right thing, Kidz Bop CDs sit there waiting for an unhip parent/grandparent/family friend to come along and eventually ruin a growing child's birthday.
When we last caught up with the company, Kidz Bop had just released Kidz Bop Sings Monster Ballads, aka the CD where hair-metal went to die.
It's been a year and now the popular series is releasing its 22nd installment. "Popular?" you ask snarkily. Hard to believe, but it's true: The last three releases have each hit the penultimate spot on the Billboard 200.
Since I'm a firm believer you can't properly judge something until you've spent some time with it, I decided to queue up a few Kidz Bop videos on its official Vevo channel. Here are my impressions of the alternate reality where this is real music and these are real videos.
2009: "Let It Rock" (Originally by Kevin Rudolf) Notable Lyric Change: "So he raised his hand and waved it to the world." Not only are there no middle fingers in Kidz Bop, but there's no Lil Wayne either.
"Let It Rock" is one of those songs that straddles the line of Kidz Bop acceptability, and it's actually quite difficult to peg which songs will pass the test. For example, there's a Kidz Bop version of "Tik Tok" but not "We Are Young."
But when in doubt, always cut the rap sections out of a pop song; rappers are filthy, filthy people obsessed with drugs and sex. It would be interesting to play the real version of this song to a child who only knows the Kidz Bop version just to see their response to the missing Lil Wayne verse. "Mommy, why is there a frog on this song?"
2010: "Crazy" Originally by Gnarls Barkley Notable Lyric Change: None as far as I can tell. Well played, Cee Lo Green. Well played.
One thing you learn from watching a lot of these videos is that the kids do a much better job lip-syncing when they aren't pretending to be in a band. Stick a microphone in their hand, though, and they become utterly lost.
In that regard, this video at least plays to the children's strengths as performers. It's also pretty creepy. This kid is clearly being hazed, and that jerk in the maroon hoodie is the ringleader of the group.
Add in the fact that the opening and closing shots clearly suggest that this is something that happens on the regular, and I can't help but worry about all the children Razor and Tie have manipulated over the last ten years.
2010: "DJ Got Us Falling In Love" (Originally by Usher) Notable Lyric Change: "Keeping dancing round like there's no tomorrow." Here's the lesson: arson and zombies = good, drinking = bad. Fair enough. They also get rid of the Pitbull verse. Also fair.
This video either takes place in the coolest bowling alley around or the worst; you guys are going to have to answer that one because I hate bowling, so I don't know what goes for cool in those circles.
I think it says a lot about the company that they went with a bowling alley as the location for an all-night dance party; one assumes a roller rink makes more sense, but they probably didn't want to pay for the insurance involved in having a bunch of kids on wheels dancing.
I bet that Kidz Bop pinball game isn't very fun either.
2011: "Born This Way" (Originally by Lady Gaga) Notable Lyrical Change: No being a drag, queen, broke, evergreen, black, white, beige, chola, Lebanese, or rug.
You'd think that "Born This Way" would be a really difficult conversion job, but it's actually quite tame if you're willing to chop out entire sections of the song. The editing really throws off the track's pacing of the track, but for the right price you can do that sort of thing.
This video also marks the start of the decline in production values of the videos. They might be on a physical set but it just looks boring, aside from the best escalator choreography since that one Offspring video. I understand the series is a license to print money, but phoning it in just seems like poor form.
2012: "Call Me Maybe" (Originally by Carly Rae Jepsen) Notable Lyrical Change: "Ripped jeans, smile was showin'." Not explained: why homeboy was wearing jeans on his head.
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It's only fitting that Kidz Bop would try and get in on the song of the summer too. Nothing says fun to the modern child like lip-syncing at a boardwalk carnival.
Now I'll admit, while the fake band is still pretty groan-worthy, I have a lot of respect for anyone who can pretend to sing while riding a roller coaster. I'll give the director credit for doing something different even if incredibly obvious.
Am I the only one who thinks the kid on the dunk tank had just a bit too much fun? Most people don't get this excited to fall into some bubbles: