Children are probably the most radical and honest music critics you will ever meet. They don’t usually bother to tell you whether or not they like the song you want to share with them (and too bad if it forms part of a fond childhood memory). After five seconds, the axe falls. Either you hear, ‘I don’t like this track, can you change it?’ Or you see their adorable little silhouette boogying to the music you love, creating in you a sense of victory and a powerful feeling of continuity tinged with a whiff of immortality. I’m exaggerating, but only just.
If your passion is for electronic music you are likely to encounter some significant difficulties, which I have tried to overcome with this selection. Here I present to you a diverse selection of sounds, periods and musical colours, all of which aim primarily at transforming your living room, car, or meal time into a totally family-friendly rave (whilst at the same time laying a few foundational stones in the construction of your offspring’s musical education).
The first and by no means the least difficult step on the journey to getting children to appreciate a piece of electronic music is the lack of lyrics and a unifying chorus – generally the entry points for young children into music. To ease them in gently I chose an electro-pop cover of a children’s song by Russian DJ: ‘My papa doesn’t want me to dance the Polka’. ‘Papa’ is one of those universal words, pretty much identical in every language (I think!). Voice gimmicks, even in short bursts, are usually a good way to capture your children’s attention. We can hear this on “Saturday Love Sunday” by the Japanese group Soichi Terada, “(Hey You) What’s That Sound” by British band Les Rythmes Digitales, and “We Don’t Play Guitars” by German artists Chicks on Speed.
When there are no vocals, electronic music is rich with bleeps and weird machine noises that will remind your children of their love of robots and their dreams of space travel. Dat Politics’ “Dizzy Zip” and Sophie’s “BIPP” both sound like they’ve been recorded for video game soundtracks. And why not try a bit of laser flute? Madonna’s “Hung Up” and Vladimir Cauchemar’s “Aulos” should make more than one apprentice whistler happy (though a word to the wise: trying to reproduce these tracks in the classroom is strictly forbidden).
Do you know what your children have in much larger quantities than you? Energy. So, if you want them to let off steam once and for all (remembering to push the furniture and your precious vinyls away first) with some quality sounds, you’ll find plenty of inspiration some of with these rollercoaster electro classics – Fischerspooner’s “Emerge” (ideal for a ravy version of musical chairs), the cover of the aptly named “I’m So Excited” by the electro punk trio Le Tigre, and “Hey Boy Hey Girl” by the Chemical Brothers
The reactions of your little ones to some of these tracks will, undoubtedly, surprise you and this childhood spontaneity is certainly one of its most magical aspects. The first time I put on Todd Terje’s “Inspector Norse” at home, my four year old daughter decided that she needed to play with a ball whilst dancing and I – caught up in the frenzy of this hit – gave in. She now regularly asks for ‘the ball song’ because ‘it’s when we can break the rules and play volleyball in the middle of the furniture.’ I can’t really blame her. Party on!