I work with young children, which means I spend a lot of time listening to children’s songs. I don’t mean the songs I listened to as a kid–ballads of futility like “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” or gripping exposes of maternal schizophrenia like “Down by the Bay.” I mean more modern creations, the fruits of what I call Children’s YouTube.
Children’s YouTube is like regular YouTube, except it’s nothing but crappy songs and every video has 90 million hits. Take a second to wrap your mind around that: 90 million hits. Kids are nothing if not good little consumers, and they consume the hell out of YouTube.
Most of it is uninspiring fare, though some of it opens up horrifying new avenues of possibility. For example, how many different ways are there to sing the alphabet song? One? Guess again, sucker! It turns out the alphabet song can be sung 13 god damn ways, each of which are sure to enchant the balls off your little tyke.
Others are apparently so addictive that every single child they touch becomes their sworn thrall. I have yet to meet a kid who didn’t love this video, which begins with a man shouting “I AM THE SHAPES TRAIN! CHOO CHOO CHOO!” in what sounds like an empty airplane hangar, descends into faux-Calypso purgatory, and ends with me screaming in the mad house.
The kids at summer camp watched it every day. The kids at school have also watched it every day. Overall, I’ve probably spent more of my life listening to this song than I’ve spent holding my loved ones.
But those songs are just annoying. The ones I’m about to list are straight up weird. I’ll give them to you in order from least to most surreal/offensive. I’ll also link each video, though I don’t recommend you watch them. I wouldn’t wish my suffering on anybody.
1. The Weather Song
I’ve been accused by my co-workers of favoring the hip hop songs, which isn’t quite fair. I like hip hop, but generally hate White People Education Hip Hop–the kind of musical travesty that starts out I’m Blah-Blah-Blah and I’m here to say! No legitimate hip hop song in history has started with the phrase I’m Blah-Blah-Blah and I’m here to say. That’s a red flag, right there.
This video though…there’s something about it. The visuals are absolute crap, basically screenshots of clip art directories, but the song. It kind of rules. The guy really commits to rapping about the weather. He’s so energetic. When he yells: “TO CHECK THE TEMPERATURE YOU CAN USE A THERMOMETER,” you’re like, “Holy shit–you know what? I can check the temperature using a thermometer. That’s awesome.”
2. Follow the Rules Song
The rat bastards who uploaded this one have embedding disabled, so here’s the link. Whoever produced, sang for, and animated this production faced the formidable task of making following the rules sound cool. They…didn’t succeed. But there’s no denying that this elephant sings the hell out of the song. It kind of sounds like George Michael’s belting it out at Live Aid, especially when the adorable children’s choir comes in. The guy’s a much better singer than this video deserves, and I hope he’s gone on to bigger and better things.
3. Five Little Pumpkins
This one is bullshit on so many levels. First off, I don’t know how long this “Five Little Pumpkins” rhyme has been around, but it’s completely superfluous. We’ve already got “Thriller,” “The Monster Mash,” the theme from John Carpenter’s Halloween, and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark to keep us entertained during the month of October.
We don’t need a weak-ass story about pumpkins sitting on a gate. We especially don’t need a weak-ass clip art video to accompany it. Oh, but wait. Just you wait until you see the horse crap they pulled at the end. The rhyme goes like this:
The fifth one says: “Let’s run and run and-
Look, their little “let’s turn clip art pumpkins into different clip art pumpkins” shtick was stupid, but at least they were keeping it consistent. Then they beefed it in the final quarter by using a pumpkin from a completely different god damn clip art set with god damn arms and legs. What the hell happened? Did they get lazy? Did the artist have a heart attack and have to be replaced by someone with a closed head injury? Is the world simply this cruel and capricious?
Only the sick S.O.B.’s behind Five Little Pumpkins know for sure.
4. Turkey in the Straw
The first comment on this video is, “I am not high enough to understand this video.” All I can say is: I feel ya, bro. Probably none of us are high enough to understand this video. Getting that high would require snorting cocaine off the back of a Colorado River frog while a Peyote shaman blows smoke up your rectum.
The weirdness starts with the revelation that there are words to “Turkey in the Straw.” I don’t know if the words were invented for this video or if they’ve always existed, but I don’t approve either way. “Turkey in the Straw” sounds like exactly what it’s about: a god damn turkey in the god damn straw. Lyrics are just unnecessary. Especially when they’re lyrics like this:
It’s hard to pinpoint the worst part of this fiasco. It may be a segment at the beginning where Pilgrim Man explains how much he sucks at raising livestock.
Oh, well done! This jackass milked the goat instead of the cow. To emphasize(?) this point, the goat explodes, its constituent parts fade and shift, and it reassembles itself into a cow. It looks absolutely insane, and I’m only sorry I couldn’t get a screenshot of it.
5. Johny Johny Yes Papa
We’re here: the worst of the worst, the mother lode of surrealist garbage, a minute-long rendition of the English nursery rhyme “Johny Johny Yes Papa.” I’m taking it on faith that this is, in fact, an English nursery rhyme. I’ve never heard of it. I’m also taking it on faith that “Johny” is supposed to be spelled with one “n.” What I’m not taking on faith, however, is the idea that CVS 3D Rhymes (an outfit based in India) intended for the video to come out this way. It’s an absolute nightmare, and if it turns out to have been willfully perpetrated on the public, its creators should be tried in an international court.
Where do I start? Let’s start with this kid. His name is Johny.
He stands in a kitchen, looking like he just shat himself, while the viewer is assaulted by what sounds like a microscopic cat running across a microscopic synth implanted directly in your eardrum. Listening to it is like getting lightly jabbed in the retina over and over. It won’t do any permanent damage, but damn does it hurt.
Anyway, in comes Papa.
They converse in rhyme. It goes like this:
Open your mouth.
Ha ha ha!
And Johny throws back his head and laughs. And it’s one of the most unsettling sights you’ll ever see.
The rhyme is repeated, and the video mercifully ends, as does your belief in universal order and a loving god.