On Hemispheric Views, Andrew, Jason and I regularly discuss our own experiences with digital technology and its effects—generally with a focus on the positives. Digital devices are so much a part of our lives at this point though that we habitually want and reach for things without a moment’s consideration.
Having a baby in the house makes you think differently about all kinds of technology, whether it’s the car in which you have to install a seat, the furniture that you have to shift for safety or the various implements, utensils and toys that make their way into your home. Sometimes, a baby radically shifts the way that you use a digital device too; this time, I’m talking about Apple TV.
Natasha and I still make time to listen to music and watch TV shows, but Mac has already developed his own taste for very particular content, which is naturally now a part of our lives… and here’s the favourite.
Yes, Apple Music has a Nursery Rhyme Videos playlist that Mac absolutely loves. To be clear, we seriously limit his TV viewing time and most of the day we keep it off, with only music playing through the HomePods. Already though, he understands that the Siri Remote is this magical thing that his dad picks up to make the five little duckies appear on the screen. He sits on the mat in our lounge room, turns to me and points with a grunt at the TV, then the Siri Remote. It’s pretty hilarious.
To fulfil his wish, we play a selection of music videos from this playlist once a day, sing and dance along, then turn everything off and move on to something else.
I’ll be honest, aside from the annoying Disney Junior clips (which are too quiet), I thoroughly enjoy a chunk of this playlist and often get things stuck in my head, particularly The Wiggles’ classics Hot Potato and Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car—the best kids’ song, in my opinion. During the former, Mac very enthusiastically mashes banana.
In what is undoubtedly old news for any Americans reading, I’ve been enjoying the ridiculous John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. I’d never heard of it before this playlist! Natasha enjoys it too, although she does get the shits when she finally gets it out of her head and then I start singing it again.
For this article, however, I want to share four examples of the more unusual moments in this eclectic children’s playlist. Warning: some of the following content may be disturbing.
Example 1: Cringey Faux Americana
I was appalled at this clip when I first saw it, but after the 1,000th viewing, I’ve come to admire the performances of these dedicated, yet musically-untalented children. Below, you can see a bunch of Greek kids of the children’s group Zouzounia (translation: ‘The Beetles’), singing and pretending to play along to She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain in front of a green screen that’s made to look like an authentic ‘El Rancho Grande’. It’s funny to hear Greek kids pretend to be American.
Example 2: Sugar, Poor Road Safety Education and an Unexpected Financial Institution
Kindly brought to us by HeyKids Nursery Rhymes, I had my suspicions about this music video version of The Muffin Man. Besides the fact that a woman walks around with six children, who don’t look alike, constantly leading them to unhealthy food (is she their teacher, parent or just a stranger?), all of the people look like bizarre caricatures of Westerners, through the lens of someone from somewhere else. My spidey-senses began to tingle even more when I noticed that one of the few building signs to have text on it in the whole clip was for ‘Bank of China’. Who on Earth puts ‘Bank of China’ behind a fireman in a kids’ music video? After some decent research, I discovered that HeyKids is from Hong Kong—nothing wrong with that at all, I just wanted to be right that it was secretly from somewhere other than the place that is vaguely depicted.
Anyway, the thing that disturbs me about this music video is that children are encouraged to stand in the middle of the road and hang on to the back of an ice-cream man’s bicycle esky/cooler without helmets.
Example 3: Manky Banana Dangle
In what is otherwise a great clip, The Wiggles’ rendition of Apples and Bananas, it’s somewhat off-putting to see a stringy bit of the external flesh of a banana dangling from Simon’s lip as he supports his fellow performers. Swallow it; don’t let it shake as you dance!
Example 4: Holy Hell
Let’s face it: The Farmer in the Dell is quite the ear-worm. I love singing along to this in just about any social setting in my most exaggerated American accent.
If you’re unfamiliar with the song, the former always ‘takes’ the latter… the farmer takes the wife, the wife takes the child, the child takes the cow and so on… until the mouse takes the cheese and the cheese stands alone, because it’s an inanimate hunk of curd.
How does the group named Kidsongs bring the clip to an end though? It zooms in to show the farmer’s wife using her face to fill the biggest hole in the piece of lonely cheese, through which the aforementioned mouse travelled.
I love cheese but this is the stuff of nightmares.
Anyway, where was I going with this article? Oh yeah, that’s right… quite simply, when you have a kid, you start to do, observe and enjoy things that would seem unbelievably ridiculous to the vast majority of people.
I would never have chosen to put any of these clips on by myself, but with Mac, it has become a daily ritual that I love. I will make sure to remind him of this playlist when he’s older (and probably sing the songs to annoy him).
For now, I hope that you will enjoy the linked playlist and music videos with me. Is there one that made you feel nostalgic? Anything that was more disturbing to you? Can you pick a favourite or offer something beyond this list? Let us know in the Hemispheric Discord.
This post was originally written in July 2022 for Hemispheric News; subscribe at the Patreon site One Prime Plus to receive this monthly newsletter and other benefits that are linked to the Hemispheric Views podcast.