Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Music Review: Best of the Bowl – Ingles Y Español
Alternate title: Watch as I recount my slowly eroding prejudice
I could not have written this review last year. I know because… I didn’t.
Last summer I was a homogeneous 30-something white guy, a product of having grown up in a white neighborhood, attending predominantly white schools and absorbing white culture (which for lack of there being a distinct “white culture” in America, I really just mean Micronauts, Star Wars, Cap’n Mitch and Burger King).
In June 2008, I received a Hot Peas ‘N Butter 4: The Pod Squad CD to review and do a blog giveaway. The CD case touted, “As seen on Noggin.” Except, I don’t watch TV. A hat tip to Noggin is the opposite of impressive in my book.
I gave the CD a listen, but a fair number of songs were in Spanish and ehhh, we already play some Putumayo Kids CDs we enjoy. Really, only 3 of the 13 songs were in Spanish, but my first impression ruled the day.
I did a blog giveaway of several CDs because music moves people in different ways.
But me? I shelved my copy. I only review to make a recommendation and I wasn’t recommending it.
Fast forward to January 2009 and it’s time for me to begin comparing elementary schools for my soon-to-be-5-year-old daughter. My wife urges me to attend an information night at our local language immersion school. I’m not hot on the idea, but I go anyway.
I’m sitting there listening to a lot of very good reasons why my daughter should learn two languages (in this case English + Spanish) beginning in kindergarten, except my eyes are focused on the ceiling. Several wires run the length of the gym’s ceiling and hanging on them are 50, maybe more, world flags. And I imagine my daughter eating lunch every day under these flags.
It occurs to me, I want to raise my kids to be better than me, and that certainly includes instilling in them an awareness of the world past the boundaries of the United States. Wouldn’t it be nice if my kids could travel anywhere on the planet and be comfortable with the differences they encounter? I don’t mean tolerant or accepting, but truly comfortable with other cultures.
Fast forward to today in September 2009, and I’m finally getting around to opening Hot Peas ‘N Butter 5: Best of the Bowl: Ingles Y Español.
It’s been on my desk for a month. I give it a listen and I actually like the music. Did the band’s music change? Did it get better? No, I changed in some way, some manner, without noticing.
One song in particular grabbed me as not just enjoyable to my adult sensibilities in music, but as a great vocabulary teaching tool for my kindergartner.
The song is Somos Familia (We are Family). The lyrics are a fusion of English and Spanish and teach the Spanish labels of family members.
Take a listen:
Then I realize this CD is a “best of” compilation and Somos Familia was on the CD that I didn’t review last summer. So I visit the Hot Peas ‘N Butter music preview page and do a facepalm while re-checking last year’s CD. The first song floors me. I’m paying attention this time.
The first track is Paranaue, an almost-chant my daughter has sung virtually every week for the past two years while playing Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art-dance-game. (Odd fact: the official language of Brazil is Portuguese, not Spanish, but Capoeira is played ’round the world these days.)
Actually, I didn’t really do a facepalm. I made a mad dash through my CD cases hoping I hadn’t given the CD away. I was cursing myself until I found it. My daughter would surely go crazy* for this song.
(*I really wanted to say apeshit, if going apeshit can be said in a positive manner. There really isn’t another word that captures the spirit of a child going apeshit over something really cool. And she did. She went, uhh, bonkers this afternoon.)
I. Can. Be. So. Stupid.
So, here’s the rest of my much-overdue review. Best of the Bowl: Ingles Y Español consists of the band’s 11 favorite songs, some in English, some in Spanish and some a mixture of the two.
It’s an awesome CD, very difficult to listen to while sitting still at a keyboard.
Another I-don’t-understand-Spanish-yet song I really appreciate is the first track, ‘Round the World, which is incredibly catchy, an all-English jump-hop-dance-worthy celebration of world cultures.
Two New York-based fathers, Daniel Lapidus and Francisco Cotto, are behind the music. They perform a range of Latin American genres with an emphasis on eminently danceable Caribbean styles such as meringue, bomba and plena.
Oh, as if that means anything coming from me. You know I don’t have a clue about Latin American music. I won’t bore you with regurgitated facts. I’m learning as I go along, and as of today I’m learning with Hot Peas ‘N Butter. Check ‘em out, and be better than me. Really hear them the first time.
The band has graciously offered to donate a CD to my daughter’s school library and I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two songs work their way into instructional use in the classroom. A blog CD giveaway will be posted tomorrow…