Kidz Bop Hits The Clubs
The Kidz Bop juggernaut has slackened a bit over recent years, with recent entries in the series not selling as well as previous installments. (I think that the cover of Modest Mouse’s “Float On” irrevocably broke the whole system by turning it into a source for too many LOLs.) But even though it’s less popular than before, a modified version of the group–with the faceless singers of background “oohs” and “ahhs” replaced by slightly older counterparts–is on a summer-vacation tour right now, holding all-ages shows in the afternoons, when clubs are normally closed. The Washington Post hit up a recent Kidz Bop tour stop at the 9:30 Club, and the whole spectacle does sound kind of strange, although it’s comforting to know that even in this jaded age, kids can still get embarrassed when their parents wave their arms along with the Shop Boyz.
The Kidz Boppers who sing on the CDs are ages 6 to 10, but the ones on tour range from 11 to 16. This tour only lasts the summer so the kids don’t have to miss school, although most of the kids are home-schooled so they can be groomed for careers in show business. The current bunch consists of Emily Arrington, Lauren Brianna Chavez, Jade Gilley, Coleman Keffer, Nathaniel Carter and Antony del Rio. But you don’t exactly need to memorize those names. Turnover makes them nearly anonymous: There are new Kidz every year, harvested through nationwide auditions. The current ones aren’t even named on the Kidz Bop Web site. And the ones who tour aren’t the same ones who sing on the albums.
If the singers aren’t the point, then how do the albums do so well? Though sales have slackened with the last few Kidz Bops, nine of the first 10 CDs were gold-certified, meaning they sold over 500,000 copies. The albums are advertised on the Disney Channel, Cartoon Network and other kid-friendly TV channels; they’re sold first by mail order, then in retail stores, for nearly $20 each.
For one thing, parents love the idea of cleaned-up lyrics and so are willing to buy the albums. Most of the songs are already PG, but the kiddie voices in the background make anything sound more cheerful. Although it’s still a little creepy to hear kids singing Christina Aguilera’s “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You).”
Hey, it was a little creepy when Aguilera sang it, given that she was just out of the blush of Mickey Mouse Club-dom at the time, and the video had those “unzipping zipper” wipes. Although the forthcoming Kidz Bop 14, in which the kidz cover Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love,” might top it. I mean, how are they going to clean up those surgery metaphors?