When it comes to entertaining children—regardless of medium—a performer must pertain to one very strong and true rule: never, ever, condescend to your audience. Though it’s true with any art form, it’s even more appropo for the pre-school set, because if you can’t keep the attention of a five-year-old, then you’re not doing your job right. Part of the joy of Nick Jr.‘s Yo Gabba Gabba! is that the show never looks down on its audience of children/causal college stoners—DJ Lance Rock and his various life-sized monster friends seem to be having fun right along with you, which, perhaps, is why the show has been able to cultivate guest turns from everyone from Elijah Wood to Jack Black without batting an eye. The show’s first (and certainly not last) soundtrack features indie-rock approved darlings like the Ting Tings and the Roots stopping by to contribute some new original songs. As cool as that sounds, however, some of the songs on this iTunes-only soundtrack don’t work without the visual components of the show to match, particularly with YGG! originals like “Party in My Tummy” and “I Like to Dance”, which—though replete with modern blog-rock dance beats—lose a bit in translation. Some of the guest artists also manage to deliver turns that are either forgettable (The Little Ones’ “Hey, Won’t Somebody Come Out and Play”) or frightfully fluffy (the way-too-cute “Be Nice to Animals” by the Salteens), which is a crying shame given that the Roots, Tahiti 80, and the Ting Tings manage to deliver some great, striking originals. The best songs, however, tend to be the more melodic YGG! originals like the synth-heavy “I’m So Sorry” and the spastic “Get the Sillies Out”, which almost sounds like a stand-in song for the Jellyfish Band from Spongebob Squarepants. Yet the real stunner? Mark Kozelek’s sweet, gorgeous acoustic original “Bedtime Lullaby”—a perfect closing number for a quirky, fun, and condescension-free little soundtrack.
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