Music Review: Pop Fly by Justin Roberts

You may recall Justin Roberts from my gushing review of Meltdown! last year. He has a new CD out this month — Pop Fly.

When I played the title track for my family the first time…

I leaned over and whispered to my wife… “Blink 182.”

“That’s it,” she answered as if a compact fluorescent bulb had turned on inside her head.

Photo of the CD cover of Justin Roberts' Pop Fly.

Okay, I’m fibbing a little. When I put the CD in our player for the first time, I paused it — at my 3-year-old daughter’s request– and we waited for my wife to finish whatever she was doing so she could join us. And then, I hit play and we danced in our living room.

The Blink 182 comment is real, but came about on our second listen-though.

Roberts produces high energy all-ages guitar pop (with some nice diversity in supporting instruments) that is perfect for creating an impromptu toddler mosh pit in your living room. And I don’t mean a punk mosh pit. Parents know… toddler dancing consists of just three moves: jumping, twirling and flailing about as if overpowered by muscle spasms.

Pop Fly’s reminding me of Blink 182 is probably why Roberts is one of my favorite children’s artists. That is to say, he produces tunes that very well could be set to different lyrics and performed by any number of artists seen on MTV. I find myself listening to Roberts even when my daughter isn’t home. His voice is so warm, friendly and fun. Uh oh. Man crush?

The intended age range is 3 to 8 years. Only three songs on the CD are squarely aimed at school-age topics — Pop Fly (playing baseball), Field Trip and She’s a Yellow Reflector (a sister who is a crossing guard). The rest of the CD is ageless.

Some folks may especially appreciate the Stay-at-Home Dad song, about a dad taking his kids to the playground. While I bristled at the opening lyrics suggesting moms give him weird looks (Aren’t we past that? Moms smile!), I liked the sneaker reference to a 1970s Enjoli 8-hour perfume commercial:

“Now he can bring home the bacon.
He fries it up in a pan.
At dinnertime when my mom gets home,
She’s like his biggest fan.”

Meanwhile, Henrietta’s Hair is the song that is most fun to sing. It’s about a girl with the world’s longest hair, and she never combs or even touches it. First a wandering ladybug decides to bed down in her hair, and soon all sorts of creatures are sleeping in her head.

The first of an evolving chorus:

“It’s ‘enter if you dare’ into Henrietta’s hair,
though it’s mangled in a mess, I like to think it’s blessed.
And there’s room enough to share up in Henrietta’s hair.
Whatever else on Earth could it be there for?”

Pop Fly debuts April 15th at $15 (Amazon). Die-hard fans may want to pre-order for $30 to net themselves the CD, a child’s baseball jersey and a signed postcard.

[This CD was provided to Thingamababy for review. I feel so guilty now with his second CD. I'm ordering several of his earlier works today to atone.]


15 Responses to “Music Review: Pop Fly by Justin Roberts”

  1. Jess says:

    I love people who don’t dumb down kid music. Its certainly the bands/people who entertain me that go into constant rotation in the cd player.

    April 7th, 2008 at 8:51 am

  2. Cindi says:

    Happy Monday! It sounds like a lot of fun. We are baseball fans in this house so “Pop Fly” would be a hit here! Thanks for a delightful giveaway. I appreciate it. Cindi

    April 7th, 2008 at 10:13 am

  3. Nichole says:

    Hooray! I think I like Justin Roberts more than my daughter does. :)

    April 7th, 2008 at 11:57 am

  4. Doralynne says:

    Funny and inventive lyrics that won’t drink you insane! Who’da thunk it? :D

    April 7th, 2008 at 1:48 pm

  5. Barbara says:

    My nephews favorite song when he was 1 was Saba by Mephiskapheles, I never played kids songs, just the more upbeat songs in my collection. He’d run around singing Saba Hey, Saba Hey… I’m always up for kids songs that won’t drive me batty. There is only so much Wheels on the Bus I can handle!

    April 7th, 2008 at 3:15 pm

  6. Diana (Holes In My Shiny Veneer) says:

    WOO HOO! That will be the sound in our house when our latest Justin Roberts CD arrives! “Meltdown” is my kids’ favorite CD– even my 2 year old sings/requests “Imaginary Rhino” endlessly.

    Thanks so much for reviewing this– we’ve been waiting for the Amazon release date and are thoroughly excited that he’ll be at the LA Times Festival of Books at the end of the month. Thanks to your review, though, I’ll now be ordering the CD/t-shirt combo from his website ‘cuz I know my son will go bonkers when he gets the shirt for his birthday in June.

    April 7th, 2008 at 5:07 pm

  7. Nicole says:

    Can’t wait! Love Justin Roberts (In the Car, Tickle My Toes & Thought it was a Monster… have been in constant rotation in the car for years now!!!)

    MY favorite CD is Elizabeth Mitchell’s “You Are My Sunshine”… she covers a lot of Woody Guthrie and I also love her latest “You are My Little Bird”. My 3 1/2-year-old and 16-month-old both love these as well… I love listening to these even when the kiddos aren’t with me…

    April 7th, 2008 at 9:34 pm

  8. Kim/hormone-colored days says:

    Yeah! Another great children’s musician from Chicago (Ralph Covert, Ella Jenkins, anyone?)


    April 8th, 2008 at 7:18 am

  9. Tim says:

    My son just turned 3, but it’s been quite a while since he got hooked on Willy Was a Whale. During one (thankfully) short car trip, it was the first time I’d ever used the Repeat function on my car’s CD player. Right now he’s going through a Disney movie song phase, although he really dug (digged?) Johnny Cash’s kid’s album. I think some new Justin Roberts is in order.

    April 8th, 2008 at 7:24 am

  10. JH says:

    O.k., so I think I need to win this CD so that you can confirm that I am indeed Justin’s biggest fan. As a resident of Evanston, like Justin, I basically follow him around the town–going to every one of his concerts with my kids- like a deadhead groupie. A sad state of affairs that my idea of going to a concert these days is heading down to the local JR concert at the neighborhood church fundraiser. I mean– I love the music- but really, I should get out more.

    April 10th, 2008 at 8:10 pm

  11. RookieMom Heather says:

    I love Justin Roberts to the point where its not normal. As soon as Holden (3) blames Milo (1) for something, I start humming “my brother did it, he did it, he diiiiiiid it….” and I think my husband is in on it too. How did we become so lame? I concur with JH, that we really ought to get more!

    April 11th, 2008 at 5:12 pm

  12. Jeff says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I just reviewed Pop Fly today…it is a terrific record from start to finish.

    April 15th, 2008 at 4:30 pm

  13. Ryan says:

    In your review, you mentioned the “Stay at Home Dad” track. You wondered if we have gotten past the “weird look” stage of male parenting. The answer, sadly, is no we have not. I have been a SAHD for 7 years now, and what’s changed is my attitude…I don’t care about the weird looks anymore. Don’t get me wrong, things have gotten much better, even in the seven years I have been a parent, but the biases are still apparent.

    Side note: I saw Justin Roberts in concert in Minneapolis last year when he mentioned he was writing for his new album (this one!). As my kids got his autograph, I mentioned that a song about SAHDs would be cool. I was very pleased to see he took my suggestion!

    By the way, I took more offense to the lyrics about dads dressing kids in mismatched clothes and being subpar folding laundry! But I know it is in good fun, and he captured a lot of what makes SAHDs great, too.

    April 17th, 2008 at 11:22 am

  14. Beth says:

    my husband is much better at folding and ironing laundry than I am.

    May 7th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

  15. Jenobellamama says:


    You are aging yourself YOUNG here. That was not a play on the Enjoli commercial, but on the popular song it used (one that has actually even been sung on American Idol). It is called Woman or Cause I’m a Woman (W-O-M-A-N). And you either ran out of room or I am right about the young thing because the Dylan connection on Henrietta’s Hair is totally impossible to miss and way too fun not to mention. I was listening and thinking “this is so Dylan, he is even singing this one like Dylan, I haven’t noticed him sounding like Dylan before…” and then came the line, “Tangled up in blue” and I just died laughing.

    My favorite CD is still Way Out but there is something that puts Pop Fly into a newer, higher league – I think his singing might be it.

    November 25th, 2008 at 6:56 pm