They Might Be Giants' new album, Join Us, comes out today. If you've only been following TMBG for the past four or five years, you might be under the impression that this Brooklyn-based band is a children's music group. That would be understandable, considering Join Us is the first TMBG album since 2007 that is not a children's record.
That's not to say the new TMBG isn't good -- there are some stellar alterna-pop tracks here, including "Can't Keep Johnny Down," which TMBG co-founder John Flansburgh told Spinner was "a very nice bittersweet concoction of a very bitchy lyric with an incredibly sunny arrangement." There are also standout songs like "Never Knew Love," a melancholy, folk-feeling ditty embellished by poppy keyboards, and "Old Pine Box," a stripped-down song driven by a light, '60s pop guitar jangle and vocal harmonies.
But it's hard not to think about TMBG's success with their children's albums, particularly Here Comes the 123s and Here Comes Science. Now that the band's supporting an "adult" album, who's going to release the next awesome children's record? We've got a few ideas.
Andrew Jackson Jihad: As we reported yesterday, local folk-punk duo AJJ has a new album, Knife Man, coming out this fall, complete with silly song titles like "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving" and "Zombie by The Cranberries by Andrew Jackson Jihad." We'd love to hear the pair apply their zesty pop chops to a children's album, maybe with some song titles like "What Is a Tort? (Not Something You Can Snort!)" and "He is for Helium."
: Rivers Cuomo and company could easily rework some of their hits for a children's remix album: "Undone -- The Sweater Song" could become "Undone -- How to Sew a Sweater Song," while "Pork and Beans" could be reworked into a "Just Be Yourself/Poop on Peer Pressure"-type tune. And "Island in the Sun?" How about "How to Turn Saltwater into Freshwater (Stuck on an Island in the Sun)"?
Marilyn Manson: Okay, this seems counterintuitive, but remember -- both MM's music and the "Barney" theme song were reportedly used to torture prisoners in Gitmo. And both figures are pretty scary. If parents will let their children fall in love with a giant, purple singing dinosaur, then why not let Marilyn Manson sing important life lessons to them, like "Don't Stick Keys in the Light Socket (or Satan Will Fry Your Brain)" and "Ask Your Mother (Daddy's Drinking Absynthe)."
Gin Blossoms: Lyrically, this Tempe rock band has always been pretty traditional, singing songs about love and betrayal (like their two biggest hits, "Found Out About You" and "Hey Jealousy"). But musically, the Gin Blossoms' gentle, adult-contemporary rock sound would make a great album of lullabies. After all, their last studio album was titled No Chocolate Cake. Why not parlay that into a whole album of things kids shouldn't get before bed: "No Soda," "No Horror Movies," and "No Cotton Candy (Unless Grandma's Picking You Up Later)."
Fleet Foxes: Actually, indie sensations Fleet Foxes might make a better lullabye record than the Blossoms. Their latest album, Helplessness Blues, is chock full of soothing melodies, sweeping vocal harmonies, and shimmering folk music instrumentation. There's no sarcasm here -- of all the bands on this list, Fleet Foxes would seriously make an awesome kids' album.
Odd Future: Here, we're being totally sarcastic. Given all the controversy surrounding Odd Future's lyrics (including allegations of misogyny and homophobia), if this group of hip-hop kids ever does make a children's album, it will hopefully be called something like Don't Take Anything We Say Seriously, or better yet (and more true to their aesthetic), Impressionable Little Bitches: Ignore Us.
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Black Carl: Phoenix's favorite funk-blues-rock band would make a great children's record. Not only does the group have totally catchy guitar and bass hooks and infectiously danceable rhythms, but singer Emma Pew's soulful wail could demand kids' attention the way mom does when she starts screaming out the full names of her offspring.
Lady Gaga and Peaches: Really, it wouldn't take a lot for Lady Gaga to produce a hit children's record (or any kind of hit record, for that matter), but having Peaches on board could help her relate to teaching kids a bit more, as Peaches was a music and drama teacher in Toronto before becoming an androgynous electro-star. Plus, we'd just love to see the two singing side-by-side about the importance of eating your fruits and veggies, with Gaga dressed as a potato and Peaches dressed as, well, Peaches.