When JDub Records sent us its first foray into children’s music, an album called Let’s Go Coconuts! by a band called The Macaroons, we knew that by actually transferring it onto our iPod, we would have one of two reactions: We’d either want to throw the device at the wall after suffering through so much kids’ music we wanted to scream, or we’d want to drive into a wall because we couldn’t get the catchy tunes out of our heads.
So we decided to get the kids who would actually listen to The Macaroons to do the review for us. Second and third grade teachers Amee Sherer and Jeff Stombaugh at the Seattle Jewish Community School subjected themselves to a full process for reviewing the album, including explaining to the students how to understand musical terms and to write down their honest impressions. Here’s what the kids had to say:
Track 1: Mezuzah
Third grader and aspiring guitar rock hero Charlie loved it. “It has a great beat and the guitar is awesome,” he said. “I love a rock beat.” His classmate Yacov, likely one of Charlie’s future groupies, agreed: “I like it loud,” he said, adding: “I liked how you put some good-to-know facts in it.”
Another of their classmates was not as impressed. “The lyrics are really bad, but the beat is good,” Micah said.
But Talia, from the 2nd grade, said, “It’s funny because it’s just funny.”
Track 2: Magic Talis Ride
Steppenwolf fans can see where this one’s going, but the kids had other ideas:
“Reminds me of a bored kid in shul that wants to go outside and play,” said 2nd grader Talia.
Both Alexis, in 2nd grade, and Uri, in the 3rd grade had similar experiences when hearing the song: “When I hear it I feel like I am actually flying,” Uri said. Third grader Sol, however, got a headache. “Too much stuttering,” he said.
Track 3: Apples and Honey
“I loved it,” said 2nd grader Ava, who called it “a little jazzy, good melody.”
Future rocker Charlie said “the lyrics need to be worked on,” but 3rd grader Jacob thought it had a “cool, nice melody.”
Track 4: Dreidel Bird
Shall we inject a bit of controversy into the proceedings?
“A little bit too slow,” said 2nd grader Nov.
“I like it a lot because it is slow,” said his classmate Madeleine.
We’ll let them fight it out on the playground after school. Alexis, also a 2nd grader, liked the song. “I’m so impressed that I wonder how they came up with the words,” she said, while 2nd grader Heather said, “It’s funny with an interesting melody.”
“I liked the guitar solo,” said Charlie.
Track 5: Matzoh Ball (Don’t Kick It!)
How’s this for a catchy tune? “Makes me want to get up and dance,” said 2nd grader Meira.
“Good drumbeat, good voices, good tempo,” agreed Josh, also in the 2nd grade. Their classmate Ava said she loved it, particularly the funny melody.
Track 6: Shabbos Morning
Third grader Jacob gave it two thumbs up, though 2nd grader Josh said the first part was not so good. Madeleine, in the 2nd grade, called it “the best song I ever heard.”
Track 7: Haman! Boo!
If you were to take a vote on the favorite song on the album, hands down the winner would be this one. It’s short, only eight words long, but it made an impact.
“Love it. Funny!” said 3rd grader Abraham.
Said Uri, also in the 3rd grade: “It’s kind of like rock and roll, and it makes me feel kind of wired.”
Sol said it was pretty good, but too short.
Track 8: Billy Bagel
This song that lists all the different kinds of bagels, got a mixed response. “The music’s okay, but the words are a little weird,” said 3rd grader Max.
Second grader Meira liked the familiar tune, and how they were able to work in the phrase “baker’s dozen.”
But Micah was having none of it. “The instruments it uses sound really bad and the words are pretty bad,” he said.
But where most people listen to music with their ears, 3rd grader Jack uses his stomach. “It’s about food!” he exclaimed.
Track 9: Elijah
Amalya, in the 3rd grade, liked this song about the well-known prophet: “Fast, nice rhyming, odd, weird, silly,” she said.
Second grader Nov liked it as well. “The beat is cool and it is funny,” she said, while 3rd grader said, “I like how it was like a story.”
Track 10: Seder Plate
Not a lot of response on this song for some reason, perhaps because it just wasn’t very well received.
“I don’t like the beat that much,” said Charlie, who knows about these things.
Bonus! There was a second part to the album that the 2nd grade class reviewed exclusively:
1. Flying on Matzoh Brei
“Good name, funny, fun!” said Miriam.
“I like it because it has a good beat and it’ really funny,” agreed Heather.
2. Rock & Roll Yarmulke
Alexis, aspiring perhaps to be like Charlie, said, “it has a good guitar solo.”
“This song is really silly,” said Nov.
“Weird,” agreed Josh.
3. Hurry Up and Light the Candles
Here was a nice fast one: “Awesome dance music, good chorus, uses Hebrew words,” said Talia, who is into that sort of stuff.
“It makes me feel happy,” said Madeleine. Alexis agreed. “It makes me want to dance,” she said.
4. Haman! Boo! (Reprise)
As much as the kids loved the first version of the song, this one was roundly panned. Better luck next time, Macaroonies!
5. Shabbat Lullaby
“Good tempo, good beat, but I don’t really like violin,” said Josh. His parents will start him on the drums in the fall.
Meira, however, loved that the lullaby did what it was intended to do: “I want to go to sleep because I love it,” she said.
6. Maroon Macaroon
Definitely feeling the love on this one. “Awesome!” exclaimed Alexis.
“Very short, very good. Awesome!” agreed Meira.
7. Go to Sleep
Another lullaby, this one toned down the raucousness of the rest of the album. “It’s really soft,” said Heather, a sentiment quietly echoed by most of the rest of her class.
So did they like the album overall? While some of the third graders would want to have their own copy of Let’s Go Coconuts! — as Jack said, “Because they teach you stuff and they’re fun!” — the majority said they were a bit too old for the album. Not so for the second graders, however, most of whom really liked it. Miriam, in the 2nd grade, said “all the songs are funny.”
Still, said 2nd grader Madeleine, “you could do better.”