you can’t dance to grunge and other expat lessons from Spotify

As an expat parent, I take on the mantle of all things American. Including music.

For a long time, this meant nursery rhymes (both straight and jazz versions) and christmas carols (I have sung the 12 Days of Christmas – all the way through – approximately 564 times in the past month).

To be honest, I never got much beyond that, into my own music, because I was just too tired. I wanted quiet when I could get quiet, and I also could not be bothered to even do a quick search through the computer (save for a brief re-infatuation with Purple Rain by Prince during my first parental leave. I played a mean guitar solo on a wriggling, laughing toddler).

But now I have gotten just a bit more sleep. The baby seems to like loud guitars. And, most importantly, we got Spotify.

Spotify is an ad-based internet music service that hasn’t quite come to the US yet. It is incredible. Almost any album you could want at a moment’s notice, with only a few commercials thrown in.

So I have been trying out my music on my kids at 5 in the morning.

And I have learned a hard lesson. You can’t dance to most of my favorite music. Sure, you can wave your head around to Pearl Jam, the White Stripes and the Delta blues, to name a few. But they are not toddler, head bopping dance worthy.

Really. You try dancing to Nirvana. Sort of works on the acoustic stuff, but you tell that to my 3-year-old. Same with Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix playing “Red House.”

But I keep trying because the alternative is to get stuck listening to “girl music” over and over, and “girl music” has meant this month the Mariah Carey Christmas album. The horror of Spotify – that I have permanent access to the Mariah Carey Christmas album.

We are finding our way, though. The kids love Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones (and nothing else by the Rolling Stones). We found an incredible version of When the Saints Go Marching In. My daughter has discovered Madonna (as we searched for Celebration by Kool and the Gang, we got the Madonna greatest hits album), and, boy, she loved that.

But there is only one consistent winner, only one search that makes me and the girl and the baby happy. One that will make her grandparents even happier.

Motown. You can dance to almost every song – whether it be Smokey Robinson or the Supremes or the Jackson Five. The album covers that show up on screen are shiny and glittery and cool.

And I love it.


2 thoughts on “you can’t dance to grunge and other expat lessons from Spotify

  1. Motown is a big part of the kids music canon in our house. Mix is with some Memphis soul and reggae and there’s happy kids.

  2. I just Stumbled your page… I enjoyed this post so I’m going to check out the rest of it. 🙂

    I’m trying to figure out some good stuff to dance to with my girls. So far I’ve discovered that Gracie, my 4 year old, hates Alice in Chains (what a travesty!) but she likes David Bowie and the Talking Heads. Weird, huh? Some Blues Traveler is good too with the kids. And she LOVES Jack Johnson. (Does that count as “girl” music?)

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