Songs for Bubbas
Diamond & Kowhai
My attitude towards music that has been created specifically for kids has always been fine if they like it, even better if I can get on board with it too. You only have to have a few too many listens to The Best of The Wiggles in one day to tip you over the edge. And you have to approach any album for kids with the knowledge that if it’s a hit you are going to have to hear it a lot. An awful lot – often the emphasis is on the ‘awful’.
Anika Moa’s collection of songs for little kids was created out of her own frustration with The Wiggles, her own need to connect with her young children, twins Barry and Tane – they’re even mentioned in the lyrics, there’s even one song with their names in the title. Moa has always been smart at knowing how to package her music, and who her audience is. And here she cleverly extends that – also the smartest part of Anika’s marketing has been that she is sincere, she is honest – she is always offering herself. Often giving so much of herself, in the songs, in the performance, in that way she has of fronting up; of being counted.
Songs for Bubbas was given the parental seal of approval in this house – we like a lot of Anika’s music, so we were prepared – instantly – to give it a chance. And if Oscar was a little unenthused, distracted, not quite grasping it at first he certainly never seemed to mind that it was playing. But just recently he’s taken to it – he can recite word for word (in both English and Te Reo) the opening songs, Colours Are Beautiful, he joyously sings along to the version of You Are My Sunshine, even copping the lyrics that include mentions of Moa’s children. He’s hooked on The Nigh Nighs Song and Animals In My Room and he giggles along to Oma Rapeti.
There’s even a song buried a little deeper into the album, Little Bird, that could have appeared on any of Moa’s (adult) albums.
There’s a lot to like and recommend about this – catchy, simple tunes, playful language, the use of Maori as well as English, the clear joy of the Kiwi accent shining through, standing proud; the fact that Moa references her life and her experiences within the songs. I could imagine same-sex couples with children taking something – a strength, a support – from this album. It might not seem like much, but to be so open and honest about the life you’re living is not to be sniffed at. This record is a small window into Moa’s world, a mother coping with twins, learning ways to educate and entertain, to placate and sooth.
This album is all party at the front and then crawls toward nap-time with Go To Sleep and a closing instrumental, Sweet Dreams.
It’s a clever – and thoughtful – initiative. And a lovely bit of fun for the whole family.