Music to influence kids’ tastes

From The A.V. Club, where they’re throwing out a question for discussion among the staff and readers:

I’m 34, and have two children: a son, 3 1/2, and a daughter, 2. I am concerned about the development of my kids’ musical taste. It seems like a good idea to try and influence the kids with my own “good” tastes so I’m not subjected to abject crap when they’re tweens, although I know in my heart it’s inevitable. Still, it seems like it’s a valuable thing for young people to learn for themselves that the New Boss is the same as the Old Boss. But I can plant some seeds and hope, right? Here’s the question: if you were looking for an artist, or even a specific album, to try and influence a child’s taste in music for the rest of their life, what would it be? —Jim from Bay View

Tasha Robinson
I really hope you aren’t kidding about your resignation to the inevitable, Jim, because your kids are absolutely going to find and love music you hate. It’s part of growing up and becoming a person, instead of a clone of your parents. In fact, whatever you force-feed them in childhood may be the thing they wind up hating most when they get old enough to want to fight your tastes. That said, I’m pretty sure I’d want to inoculate my theoretical kids against a bunch of different kinds of musical resistance with The Beatles. (I know, it’s a cliché answer, to such a degree that clichés are pretty much measured on a scale from 1 to The Beatles As Answer To Any Question About Music.) Still. There’s so much range in what The Beatles did, and that’s what I’d want to teach my kids more than anything: to embrace as much diversity in music as possible, and not get locked too tightly into one thing. There’s enough of a divergence between “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and The White Album that I’d like to think it’d teach kids not to be disappointed or frustrated when a favorite band doesn’t just turn out clones of their favorite song or album over and over. Plenty of The Beatles’ songs are either bouncy fun for kids, or the kind of wistful melancholy I didn’t quite get as a child, but was drawn to musically. And with one band, you’ve got enough variations on rock, folk, and pop that it’d be easy to spiral an entire musical education out of any given song they liked. Yup, I’ve got the plan. Now I just need the children. Can I borrow yours?

Nathan Rabin
This is a no-brainer for me. I would love to introduce my kids to music the way I was introduced to music: through the albums of “Weird Al” Yankovic. He’s the perfect artist to introduce children to music both because his humor and sensibility are incredibly kid-friendly, and because his pastiches, homages, and tributes double as an eminently accessible introduction to artists from across the musical spectrum. “Frank’s 2000 TV” would be the perfect way to introduce a child to R.E.M., while “Dog Eat Dog” would be an ideal way to get junior excited about The Talking Heads. (If s/he is anything like mom and dad, s/he will absolutely love The Talking Heads, which also wouldn’t be a bad answer to this question.) Between the artists Yankovic spoofs and the artists he pays tribute to on his loving pastiches, his work has touched on an incredibly broad swath of pop music’s past and present. He isn’t just the young people’s favorite for more than three decades, he’s also secretly a one-man music school whose pop-culture-crazed work points in all sorts of weird, inspired directions. Al contains multitudes. I can think of no greater way to introduce my theoretical progeny to the wonder, diversity, and magic of pop music than through his winking, knowing take on the musical canon.

Claire Zulkey
Let me be clear: I have no interest in raising my little baby boy to be some sort of rebel badass. If he’s a sissy mama’s boy in short-pant overalls with a ribboned hat and a giant lollipop well into his teens, as long as he’s a good boy who doesn’t cause too much trouble, I’ll be very okay with it. But with that said, while I was pregnant, while listening to the radio one day, I realized AC/DC would actually make great kids’ music. “You Shook Me All Night Long” aside, a lot of their songs sound like they’d be great for children. They’re silly, loud, clap-oriented, anthemic, and not very complicated, encouraging the spirit of rabblerousing, but more importantly, good fun. I could definitely see chanting “Dirty Deeds” together in the kitchen on many a Friday night as we bake cookies together.

Sarah Collins
I was raised on the Grateful Dead and grew into a snarling teen who only listened to punk rock, so I’m proof this plan never works. My boyfriend and I talk a lot about taking the Patton Oswalt approachwith our theoretical future kids. Instead of just listening to Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required to force our kids to rebel, though, I think we should take it a step further. I plan on listening to mountains of the same garbage pop-punk I listened to as a teen. They will be bombarded with Mr. T Experience,Cletus, and The Queers. They will go to every mid-’90s one-off reunion show. Their little infantile hearts will be trained to beat in three chords before they even exit the womb. With any luck, they’ll grow up to love nuanced, technically proficient music and have a complicated understanding of romantic relationships that don’t boil down to girls cheating and leaving. So Sleater-Kinney fans, basically.

Contine reading the rest of the story on The A.V. Club