Songs for the Car

Various Artists

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Songs for the Car Review

by William Ruhlmann

Hip-O Records' Songs for the Car is part of the Universal Music Family series of compilation albums intended for children. This one is for "ages 2+," as the cover proclaims. But parents noting that and observing the cute illustration of a car on the front cover might want to peruse the back cover to see the contents before picking this disc up and putting it in the car CD player. On the basis of this example, it looks as though the series has been approached from an outside-in attitude, that is, that record company executives began with the question, "What's another way to exploit the catalog?," as opposed to, "What music actually would be appropriate for toddlers?" In the collection's defense, it can be said that there are songs to which small children might be expected to respond, such as Bob Dorough's "Three Is a Magic Number," which gets into times tables; Bobby McFerrin's "Mañana Iguana"; and even James Brown's "I Got Ants in My Pants (And I Want to Dance), Pt. I." Also, the songs tend to have catchy choruses and to maintain interesting beats likely to keep feet bouncing in those car seats. But this isn't really children's music. "Our House" and "Teach Your Children" have something to do with family, even if they aren't really child-oriented, but songs like "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" and "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," among others, seem like a considerable stretch. The compilers have ranged across many decades for this set, but the results seem scattershot, and not at all like 12 songs for families to sing together in the car.

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