I was flipping through my car’s satellite radio stations this week as I made my way back to the Upper Valley when I stumbled across a Kidz Bop Kidz cover of Post Malone’s Congratulations ft. Quavo playing on the Spotlight channel.
I don’t know about you, but I had never listened to a full Kidz Bop track. Sure, I’d heard samples and excerpts in those Kidz Bop commercials, but not an entire song.
Y’all, it was a treat.
Actual footage of me realizing it wasn’t a weird mistake and that the channel was, in fact, purposefully playing Kidz Bop songs.
First, if you wanna feel old, think back to when you were a kid watching Nickelodeon and reflect upon the Kidz Bop commercials you’d see during shows. Welp, much like the Now! CDs that somehow continue to pretend iPods don’t exist, the Kidz Bop Kidz have produced a whopping 37 albums. They’re also showing no signs of slowing anytime soon. They are just turning out the SFW bangers.
We probably couldn’t appreciate Kidz Bop at the time because we were children ourselves, but there is something special about the fact that an entire genre of music is devoted solely to cleaning up the most popular songs in the country so that they are lyrically appropriate for the ears of tiny humans. I am personally fascinated by the ways in which the content is changed. (I borderline find it hilarious, but hey, I understand the purpose it serves.)
Anyway, I sat there behind the wheel, grinning like a big dumb idiot, letting the dulcet sounds of prepubescent teens fill my ears. I sang along, natch, and delighted in seeing where the Kidz Bop lyrics differed from the original songs. I was positively gleeful, and from that point on, I barely turned the dial away.
Now, I present to you a review of the Kidz Bop songs I listened to while driving up the highway.
Songs I heard in full (I won’t be reviewing Congratulations because I came in on the tail end of it):
Starving by Hailee Steinfeld
ALL references to kissing and other pleasures of the flesh were obviously nowhere to be found, because these are children and they have cooties, gross! Instead, meaningful glances replace tender kisses and ~other things~. The word “damn” in the phrase “whole damn zoo” was replaced by “the total zoo.” Are the syllables off? Yes, def, but I guess I’ll let it slide because I love this song, even when it is sung by kids. (Also, girl, if his looks are doing things to your heartbeat, you might wanna get that checked out.)
Grade: B+, because I really can’t forgive the syllable switch. Sorry ’bout it. Y’all shoulda just said “dang,” or heck, even “darn.”
Havana by Camila Cabello (track was shortened, likely because they couldn’t find a child-appropriate way to swap out Young Thug’s rap feature)
“That summer day in June” was swapped in for “That summer night in June,” because duh, these are children and they have curfews. Everyone knows the universal sign for “time to go home for dinner” is when the streetlights come on, so there certainly won’t be any chance of meeting dreamy adolescent boys. Also, Cabello’s “And Papa says he’s got malo (“bad” in Spanish) in him” was replaced by “And then he says he’s got love in him,” which totally changes the intent of the song (and the guy being sung about), but OK, sure. We all wish he had love in him, don’t we, girls? *Sigh*
Grade: A-. Shout-out to the singer for totally nailing the high notes!
Gold by Kiiara
“Bodies on the pavement” became “moving on the pavement,” which, what? but it worked, and I get it, because I’m pretty sure it might be a thinly veiled death reference … They also kept the bit about biting the feelings out, which was a bold choice IMO, but it paid off. Plus, they kept the sick beat and the disjointed chorus, so I was into it. (Real talk: I had to look up the actual lyrics, and was shook to learn that she is saying words and not just making sounds, which is how I’ve been singing the chorus for months.)
Grade: A-. Great job making the chorus sound identical to the original, and for teaching me the real lyrics. TY! Also I find “moving on the pavement” genuinely funny, idk why. Sorry not sorry.
Bad at Love by Halsey
Obviously they changed/removed the liquor and drug references and the vulgarity, but to my surprise they also mixed the gender roles the song alludes to. “But he says it in the kitchen with a dinner plate” are the anti-sexist lyrics we didn’t know we needed. 10/10 for empowering young women, yaaaas kween.
Grade: A. He can make his own damn sandwich, that’s why. Also, vocals on point.
The Kidz Bop Kidz can sing.
I am v serious. These kids are no joke. They have real singing chops and will probably go on to land record deals and make millions while I continue to toil away at my desk, reviewing their albums. They sound strikingly like the original artists, yet masterfully put their own soft spin on the songs they cover.
Kids apparently love Kidz Bop.
A quick review of their YouTube channel tells me all I need to know: these kids are popular. And kids know what is cool, so therefore, Kidz Bop = cool. (Also um THESE KIDS CAN DANCE, YOU GUYS).