I once asked a friend of mine how you know that your boyfriend is “the one,” and she told me that you need to make a list. Well, two lists, actually. One of the lists should be of qualities that are absolutely non-negotiable in a partner (i.e, sense of humor, generosity, an understanding of how much a good pair of shoes cost), and the other list should be of qualities that you would prefer, but that you could live without if you had to (i.e. blue eyes, a sense of style, a love of contemporary art). She said that if the guy in question has everything on the first list, and at least half of the things on the second list, then you count your blessings, and you marry him.
For me, where to put ‘good taste in music’ was a tough call. It very easily could have been on my first list, but ultimately ended up on the second, thus allowing me to marry my musically challenged husband, whom I otherwise adore. But I will say, it’s been a sacrifice. I love music, and not to brag or anything, but I have excellent taste in music, and rarely does a song arise whose lyrics I don’t know by heart. And so, living with someone who doesn’t know a single song recorded prior to 1985, who considers good music to be any song that’s made AT 40 and/or been the theme to a cheesy movie, who FELL ASLEEP during a Rolling Stones concert and has NEVER HEARD of Steely Dan, who once actually paid money to attend a Michael Bolton concert – well, I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it’s been for me these last ten years.
But, I am determined not to let my husband’s tragic flaw affect my children. When I was pregnant, I used to lie in bed listening to my favorite bands, the speakers pushed right up against my uterus, in the hopes that I would be able to influence their musical tastes through the womb. When my kids were babies, I would play my favorite CDs in the car whenever I took them somewhere, or in the house, as background music, whenever we were home. I figured that somehow, some way, I could subliminally teach them a love of classic rock, 70’s soul, 80’s alternative and ‘90s dance music. I knew that my husband wouldn’t stand a chance. There was no way that a human being could be raised on a steady diet of Stevie Wonder, Van Halen, Depeche Mode and Black Box, yet still succumb to the likes of Jon Secada or (sorry honey) Kenny G. But I never counted on Radio Disney coming in and ruin my whole plan.
I first discovered Radio Disney when my daughter was about two. After six months of caving to her demand that we listen to the Little People rendition of Wheels on the Bus whenever we were in the car, I recalled a friend telling me that Disney had a radio station that played songs from all of the Disney tv shows. In a moment of sheer desperation, I scanned the channels on my radio until I came across the theme song from Bear in the Big Blue House, and got my daughter to agree to listen. Which may not sound like much of a victory, but you try listening to grown-ups singing The Wheels on the Bus in super-peppy, fake, lispy, little kid voices for six months straight, and maybe you’ll see why it so, so, is.
Anyway, ever since then, it’s been Radio Disney all the way. Oh, I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve sat with my kids and played them every catchy, kid-friendly pop song from the last thirty years, hoping that something I like will appeal to them. I’ve tried introducing them to rap, to hip-hop, even to heavy metal. I’ve even tried the soundtrack to Grease, despite the inappropriate sexual content. But no. If it isn’t by Demi Lovato or Miley Cyrus or the Jonas Brothers, or the cast of High School Musical, they’re just not interested. (Although, I have to say, my son kind of likes the heavy metal, but only because it reminds him of Power Rangers music). And the truth is, not all of the Disney songs are horrible. Some of them are okay. It’s just that on Radio Disney, they play them over and over and over again, until you’re so sick of them that you want to mutter obscenities as soon as you hear the opening chord – but of course you don’t, because, you know, you have children in the car. But then sometimes when I’m alone, I’ll forget that the radio is tuned to Radio Disney, and I’ll drive around for half an hour, bopping my head to Throwdown Hoedown, until suddenly I remember that I am, in fact, alone, and then I quickly stab at the buttons on my radio, and I do mutter obscenities, and I have to admit, it feels really good to use the words “Radio Disney” and “Miley Cyrus” and “f#@” and “s*#!” in the same sentence.
But what really gets me going – what really sticks in my craw – is when all of these Disney teeny-boppers do horrible covers of great, classic songs, causing my kids to think that Miley Cyrus invented Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, or that Alyson Stoner is enough of a musician to have written Dancin’ in the Moonlight all by herself. And when my kids wonder how it is that I know the words to these brand new songs, I tell them that actually, this was somebody else’s song first, and it was a lot better than this piece of crap rip off, but of course I don’t say it quite like that, because, you know, they’re kids. So I offer to play them some Cyndi Lauper, or some Toploader, just to show them how good these songs can really sound, but noooo, mommy, that’s okay, we like this music, it’s soooo good. And, then, well, you know, that whole wanting to mutter obscenities thing comes up again. But I don’t. I just live with it, and resign myself to having to listen to the bland, conformist Radio Disney for rest my life. Sigh. If only I could make one of those husband lists for my kids.