Music Review: Kidz Bop 17
Kidz Bop 17 by the Kidz Bop Kids
I'll be honest: I've never understood the appeal of Kidz Bop. Back in 2001, when the first disc in the anthology series was released, the idea of taking current hit pop songs and having them "sung by kids for kids" struck me as a pointless one that I never imagined would be successful. That prediction was, of course, an epic fail on my part -- as you can see by the number 17 on the cover of this latest Kidz Bop entry. So, nine years and more than 30 albums later (including the frequently released special collections like Kidz Bop Sings the Beatles, Kidz Bop 80s Gold, and Kidz Bop Halloween), it's time to check back in and see why I apparently misjudged the series.
Kidz Bop 17 is, just like every entry before it, a collection of Top 40 covers performed by a chorus of children known collectively as the Kidz Bop Kids (why it's "kidz" in one instance and "kids" in another, I do not know). On previous discs, there was a big creep-out factor in hearing elementary school voices singing very adult songs -- like on Kidz Bop 11, when the children crooned along with Hinder's infidelity anthem, "Lips of an Angel" (the fact that they bizarrely changed the lyric from "it's hard to faithful" to "it's hard to be grateful" didn't reduce the ickiness). I'm happy to report that there's less of that on Volume 17, where several of the artists covered are basically children themselves (Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Jordin Sparks). Yes, Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" is about stalking, but at least the lyrics are somewhat oblique.
But my biggest problem with Kidz Bop isn't the subject matter; it's the music. The vocals are almost all very flat. I don't mean off-key -- most of the young singers have fine voices -- I mean lifeless. There's no real energy or enthusiasm in the performances. Maybe we can blame it on the sound mixing and assume these kids would be balls of pure exuberance on stage, but that fact of the matter is that the Kidz Bop Kids perform Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" with as much flare as a second grade music class running through "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" for the umpteenth time. You'd probably get more spark from your own kids doing karaoke renditions of these songs.
So, while listening to Kidz Bop 17, I found myself once again asking, "Why?" These muted covers will never measure up to the originals. And if the originals are not heinously inappropriate for kids to begin with, as is the case with most of the KB17 tracks, why not just let your kids listen to the real thing? All these years later, I'm still just as baffled.
Related: Music Review: C'Mon by Renee and Jeremy
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