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playlists for the young and impressionable

It’s hard to avoid the influence of mainstream commercial media on young girls. I should know: my seven year old daughter is heavily into princesses and ballerinas, while my six year old daughter loves butterflies and wearing pretty dresses.

One of the ways I try to combat this is to reduce the amount of commercial media they are exposed to. TV viewing is limited to ABC Kids or DVD movies, and not too much in one day. Computer access is easily controlled – they can only visit websites we’ve whitelisted, and the computer automatically logs them out after one hour’s use in a day. And the girls each have an iPod (pink for the princess, at her request) with playlists I’ve created for them. This is where I need your help…

Coming up with suitable playlists to counteract the rest of the mainstream media’s portrayal of women is hard work. Like most primary school children, my daughters’ opinion of a song is automatically higher if they’ve heard it on the radio. And they are way too cool for “kids music” like Justine Clarke. Naturally, female voices resonate with them. And they have personal preferences: Ms Seven likes bubblegum pop tunes and doesn’t like swearing in songs, while Ms Six enjoys a bit of pop-rock and loves hearing her name (Juliet) in the lyrics. I think I regret putting Taylor Swift’s Love Story on her iPod, it’s just reinforcing the Cinderella myth. The only other song I know with her name in it is just plain inappropriate for a six year old – Dire Straits’ Romeo and Juliet.

Their current playlists include some great songs by women to boost a young girl’s self esteem and express a wider range of interests than just boys and fashion:

  • ·Beth Orton – Live As You Dream
  • ·George – Breathe In Now
  • ·The Idea of North (Australian a capella group) – Isn’t She Lovely (cover of the Stevie Wonder song – chosen for her by her grandmother)
  • ·Indigo Girls – Galileo
  • ·Kylie – Step Back In Time. OK, maybe I’m just trying to get them into the same music I liked as a teenager. There’s nothing wrong with a song that’s just plain fun to dance to, especially in 70′s dress-ups.
  • ·Missy Higgins – Steer. The kids think it’s about what happens when Daddy lets them sit in his lap and pretend they’re driving. Hopefully the concept of self-determination is seeping into their still-forming brains.
  • ·Pink – Funhouse. They take the lyrics literally – that it’s about a carnival funhouse.
  • ·Sarah McLachlan – Blackbird (cover of the Beatles song)
  • ·Vanessa Amorosi – Holiday
  • ·Katy Perry – Firework. I know it’s a bit sappy, but it’s Song of the Year with the under 8s.
  • ·The Waifs – Lighthouse

Got any more suggestions for my daughters’ playlists? They love the voices of Adele, Kasey Chambers, Jewel, Pink, and Gwen Stefani. I’d like them to listen to more Tracy Chapman, Beth Orton, and Ani di Franco. What songs do you recommend?

By Emma Davidson

(Image credit: 1.)

8 thoughts on “playlists for the young and impressionable

  1. What a wonderful idea Emma! I’ll probably end up commenting 100 times as I think of more songs.

    *I LOVED Abba when I was a kid. Granted, a lot of their songs are about relationships, but I don’t think I gave ‘Mamma Mia’ a second thought until two years ago. Their catalogue might be worth a peruse!

    *Owl Eyes – Raiders. Wonderfully catchy, and a young Australian woman doing very well.

    *Amy Winehouse? Sounds like your daughters might like her voice, though it is admittedly a touch difficult to find non-men-oriented songs … how about ‘October Song’?

    *Florence + the Machine – Dog Days Are Over

    *Clare Bowditch – there aren’t any “change yourself”-type messages on her latest album, Modern Day Addiction.

    *Spice Girls – Spice up your Life

    *Lanie Lane – Betty Baby. It’s a gorgeous song about her guitar!

    *Lisa Mitchell – Neapolitan Dreams, Oh! Hark!, Stevie

    *Karen Elson – Lunasa

    *Little Joy – Don’t Watch Me Dancing

    *She & Him – In the Sun, I’m Gonna Make It Better

    *Sia – Clap Your Hands, The Fight

    Hope that’s helpful, and I’ll keep my eyes and ears peeled for more!

  2. Ooh great suggestions, thanks! Off to check out some of the songs I don’t know.

    Keep the songs coming people, my girls love listening to music and I need ideas!

  3. My girls (5 and 7) are deeply, deeply into ABBA at the moment. They listen to it in their room every morning while getting dressed, they watch a DVD of ABBA film clips whenever they are allowed to watch TV, the first movie they ask for at the weekend is Mama Mia and they even have a Mama Mia soundtrack to listen to when there is no screen time! They are totally obsessed.

    Much as I get sick of listening to it over and over, I much prefer it to just about anything in the top 20. And as for letting them watch the soft porn that poses as music clips these days, no way!!

    Apart from the ABBA obsession, there music taste is pretty eclectic, and driven more by what their Dad and I have introduced them to, rather than their friends. I hope it stays like that for a while.

    They quite like –
    -Pink
    -Gwen Stefani
    -Evanescence
    -Ben Lee
    -Nora Jones
    -Elvis (Jailhouse Rock is a particular fave for some reason!)
    And I’ve had a bit of success in getting them to listen to U2, Violet Femmes and Nick Cave.

    Will definitely be checking out some of the other suggestions.

  4. Cyndi Lauper! Check out songs from The Body Accoustic (my fave is The Water’s Edge, but might be too deep for kids) and her latest album Twelve Deadly Cyns. Some *very* cool music there! Girls Just Wanna Have Fun :-D

    I’m so glad that despite my girls loving mainstream music, they’re not “too cool for school” when it comes to Justine Clarke, The Wiggles, Jai Lagaia & The Fairies.

  5. India Arie has a beautiful song called Video with a really positive message. I love this idea my daughter is only 1 but I think I’ll start making a list now.

  6. Wow, my kids are (boy 2) and little girl (5months) but i also have thought about the rubbish on TV…..Thankfully we do not own a tv!!!
    So thats one problem solved! And screen time is limited to DVDs, mainly wiggles and Thomas at the moment, oh yes Charlie and Lola, as for music, its mainly classical, ballet’s and wiggles or music from groups my son has attended.
    I hope that once they are of school age we will be able to avoid the peer pressure of the rubbish that is out there at the moment!
    I mean does every single female artist have to strip off these days to make it in the music scene?????really????

  7. The Beatles.

    You can censor it (they will understand Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, for instance)

    Wait until they’re older for Ani, T Chapman etc. the lyrics are too adult. My kids are 5 and 6 are dance madly to

    Aretha
    Elvis
    Ella and Louis
    ABBA
    Beatles (Lennon’s rocky stuff eg. Bad Boy)
    Buena Vista Social Club soundtrack

    Yes they’ll dance to Rock Lobster, assorted Jane’s Addiction, The Breeders, Sepultura, Janis J, Chisel even. But they’re little kids and they need their Mummy to just Embrace ABBA :)

    There is no reason to expose them to music post-1990. Over Christmas it was Sinatra, Dean Martin, Johnny Cash, Doris Day, Aretha, Willy Nelson doing Xmas songs – beautiful!

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