I have three small children who seriously restrict my entertainment choices at night and on weekends. If you change their cartoons to the news they throw a knipshit, even if they’re playing with toys completely out of view. They somehow sense that the news is on.
If you pick up the tablet to read a book, they try to join in or even grab the tablet because their mother has taught them that these things have games. And if you try to work on the laptop then they wiggle into your lap so they can slap at the keyboard.
Let this be a warning to the guys who aren’t fathers yet. You’re going to have to sit there and watch their cartoons with them, and that is just as bad as it sounds.
Unless you can trick them into watching something that YOU like, a compromise. This is why Shrek was so successful … parents enjoyed it too. The opposite extreme would be Pocoyo. I give the (Spanish) team behind Pocoyo mad props for creating high-quality entertainment for children, but Pocoyo is utter shit for adults.
So instead of watching Shrek I get the children watching music videos of songs that I like to listen to, and if I’m drinking I’ll get to singing and dancing but let’s not go there today.
Gentleman by PSY
I only learned of Gangnam Style after it hit 1 billion views, and I absolutely loved the video. The song’s just OK, typical top 40 pop music, but the video is hilarious and children feel the humor. Gangnam Style is the undisputed heavyweight champion of adult music for children. Unfortunately it’s so popular that they started to request it on REPEAT (“again Daddy!”) for a half hour straight, or they ask for the Pocoyo version.
And that is how Gangnam Style was ruined for me, so I had to put Gentleman into the mix, which has almost as good of a video and an infinitely more tolerable song. At least for now.
La Paga by Juanes
I played this one night because of the cartoon mouse, and I figured out that cartoon videos are the easiest way to get children engaged. This is the only Juanes song that is likable for heavy-testicled gringos, and it’s beloved by the Latin wives. So it is one of the few songs which work for everybody in the family.
Who Was in my Room Last Night by Butthole Surfers
Thinking about cartoon videos, I immediately thought of the best music video in the history of music videos (above). And it was a success with the children, but not so much with wife.
I learned that picking animated videos doesn’t always appeal to the children. For example, neither Go with the Flow nor Money for Nothing worked for even a second.
Liar by Henry Rollins
I remembered this one as being cartoonish with Henry Rollins dressed up as a devil and all, and it was a surprising success. But I chalk that up to my boy, bravo como el toro, taking any opportunity to scream and shout. “CUZ I’M A LIAR!”
Walk by Pantera
This was actually an old one I used to play for the boy which was always a hit. Obviously shouting simple English helps, but something about the video is compelling. I think it’s high energy and it’s something they can sense is uniquely gringo and not Latin, something more like Daddy than Mommy. The daughter likes this one too.
I tried some other metal videos which failed miserably, Du Hast for being weird krauts and Chicken Huntin for being obnoxious Americans.
Sabotage by Beastie Boys
Thinking more about an interesting video in hard rock reminded me of this old classic from the Beasties. I don’t know why it works, maybe the running and jumping and tackling.
Turn Down for What by DJ Snake and Lil Jon
Turning away from metal but trying to keep the energy up, I remembered this compelling video. Funny, high-tempo video with dancing and crashes in a high-energy song with repeatable, shouting lyrics, and the kids ask for encores.
We Dem Boyz by Wiz Khalifa
Shifting gears to rap, this was on old one I played on the radio and the boy liked to sing along. If you’re in the daily struggle to teach your children English, this is a valuable asset. He says “BOYS,” over and over again, punctuated with the Americanisimo “Hold up, hold up!”
Hip-hop haters often criticize the rap community’s poor use of the English language, but you can’t hate on Wiz Khalifa’s pronunciation. Aside from the chorus, he enunciates most syllables clearly. He speaks so well!
They like the video because my boy likes to shout “BOYS” and “Hold up, hold up,” but also because the video cuts to various groups of dudes making funny faces while dancing.
With the exception of Wiz, rap turned out to be a curious failure time and again, which I attribute to rappers trying too hard to look hard or rich. Children don’t think they’re very cool. The closest I got was Ruff Ryders’ Anthem because of the motorcycles, but I got tired of the boy asking “more bikes daddy” over and over again.
Tu No Vive Asi by Arcangel and Bad Bunny
After rap’s failure I thought this one might work because, I mean come on, a bunny, a devil, a monkey and two henchman getting out of an ice cream truck. Tricks on four-wheelers, the devil in front of flames, and then the white rapper surrounded by little brown children. It works!
Tumba la Casa worked for a second just because the boy liked to repeat, “Tumba la casa, mami,” but the video is shit.
Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO
Moving away from singers taking them too seriously, this is just a hilarious video with goofy characters and a catchy song. And then there is something about half-naked bodies.
An old reader turned me on to LMFAO years ago and I’m wondering if he’s still lurking around (you know who you are), and I’m a convert. I lived in the OC for a year, and everything about these guys reminds me of Los Angeles. LA is a really special place, nothing else in the world like it, and this group is the poster child.
What’s My Age Again? by Blink 182
Unfortunately wife gets pissed every time I play the LMFAO video because “it’s gay” (who’s the ugly American?). So one night she starts asking me about that other video with the naked guys, the one that’s not so gay?
I had no idea which video she was talking about, but I put this on and we had another hit with the children. Blink 182 is from San Diego, and another great example of that Southern California gringo. So American.
Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani
A bit strange how I arrived at this one, but I started by wondering why two wildly popular songs featured half-naked dudes throughout. Why no half-naked chicks?
I first tried 23 by Miley Cyrus because I knew she was wearing one of those whack-ass basketball skirts from 10+ years ago, and the video had sports and the song is tolerable to me. But it worked a little too well. My daughter’s eyes were glued to the screen, watching Miley’s every move. I looked up at Miley Cyrus, and I looked back at my daughter, and then back up at Miley. I turned the song off over daughter’s protest and decided not to put Miley Cyrus on the television ever again.
LMFAO and Blink 182 are clowning around and being funny, but Miley is selling sex. I tried to tone it down with TLC, which the daughter also liked, but that was too sexually infused too.
That’s when I remembered the Bananas song by Gwen Stefani, which earned rotation on St. Louis hood radio despite being a white singer. So I searched and searched for a half-naked chicks song for the children and came up with this, which features no half-naked chicks but a couple cheerleader outfits here and there.
Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
This was surprising because I never thought the children would like it. Another family was over and I played it at someone’s request. All of us parents were shocked when their boy asked for an encore, and my boy seconded the motion. We figured out they love watching the singer bump the other pedestrians. I don’t know why that works, but it works.
Lovers on the Sun by David Guetta
A paper-thin storyline with good guys and bad guys can’t go wrong. One time after watching this video the wife put on Shot Me Down by David Guetta and I could tell that the children liked that video even better, but they couldn’t enjoy it because I was shouting at the television before I started wrestling with wife to get the remote out of her hands so I could turn off the abomination. When I finally got the remote I put on the original version of Shot Me Down by Nancy Sinatra, but the children were bored with it. Not even daughter liked it.
What do you got?
Are you on the same page? What videos have worked for your kids? Name the song and artist in a comment and I’ll embed the video. I need all the help I can get!
I published this one day after ‘Buñuelos a Real Treat’ because I received a couple donations and I needed to make the deadline of “this week.” But I want you donors to know this isn’t the real follow-up, I’ll have another one sooner than later!
My kids love Bruno Mars, especially Uptown Funk
Brad shoots, he scores!
Thirty seconds in and both children are dancing around!