KIDZ BOP recently released their 40th album, and my goodness did it hit the ground running. With some tracks getting over 6.5 million plays on Spotify, it is proving to be one of their most popular. I am truly surprised at the longevity of the group — the first KIDZ BOP album came out in 2001. And unlike all those 2000s punk rockers that get angsty and divorce their partners at 40 to elope with a 24-year-old, the KIDZ BOP crew is strangely feeling younger than ever.
In order to properly analyze the album, I had to go on a private Spotify session. I didn’t want my “indie rock-punk-folk” clout to be tainted or the Spotify algorithm to change up my “Discover Weekly” from Big Thief to The Wiggles.
The album’s lyrical progression is truly artful — it was as if a bunch of MFAs got together and wrote a happy album that had nothing to do with the one that got away with when they were undergraduates. However, all of the lyrics seemed fabricated. Like if a bunch of MFAs just plagiarized. Turns out that 11-year-olds singing about sex and drugs isn’t that great, especially when their main audiences is … also a bunch of 11-year-olds. To combat this, the songs that they cover are edited to reflect KIDZ BOP’s commitment to decorum.
I got in touch with the KIDZ BOP Censorship Executive Roger Case. Case describes his job as “the moral compass of KIDZ BOP.” Decency seems to be at the forefront of the company’s brand. He told me later in the interview that he has a monthly subscription to Teen Vogue — both physical and online — in order to stay up to date with the latest teen drama and trends. I’m so glad a 50-year-old dude is the one deciding what lyrics should be replaced in Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings.”
Case was kind enough to introduce me to some ex-KIDZ BOPpers so I could see what they were up to. While you can find most of them trying to become Instagram influencers — I guess they think “KIDZ BOP singer, 2008” in their bios is the way in — some are trying to make it big as singers. However, they expressed their frustration with the general lack of innocence in the music industry. Jack Manop, a member of the KIDZ BOP 24 crew, expressed his general disheartenment with the content of songs these days.
“Why does music have to be filled with adult content? Why can’t we all just sing about friends being friends?” He also told me that Taylor Swift’s LBGTQ+ ally status, as shown in her new single “You Need to Calm Down,” was “greatly disappointing” and “too PG-13” for him.
KIDZ BOP’s uncanny ability to smoothly change lyrics to make them more appropriate is quite impressive. KIDZ BOP 40 featured artists from across the board. Their rendition of Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” really hit different. I was surprised at their reliance on the second person, changing “Why men great ‘til they gotta be great” to “Why you great ‘til you gotta be great.” Their replacement of b—h in the line “I just took a DNA turns out I’m 100% that b—h” turned the line into “I just took a DNA turns out I’m 100% that kid” — an … interesting choice. I was curious as to some of the logic behind the song. The line “You could have had a good friend, non-committal” seemed contradictory. Shouldn’t friends be the opposite of “non-committal”? Shouldn’t KIDZ BOP be teaching about loyal friendships?
When I confronted Case about this line, he just stared at me and blinked a couple times then tried to secretly pull his phone out of his pocket and text someone. He had realized his mistake. He then offered me $300 and a signed copy of the album in exchange for silence. I politely declined. I felt as if this news was worth sharing. Again, maybe having a 50-year-old man replacing words for KIDZ BOP songs isn’t the best.
They also covered Panic! At The Disco’s “Hey Look Ma, I Made It.” I couldn’t help but think that this song took on a literal sense for the singers. I am sure they were able to sing this song directly to their mothers, given that they were probably holding their hands in the studio.
Overall the album left me slightly unsatisfied. Children trying to be Post Malone just falls short in my mind. However, I did suggest King Princess to Case as a possible new artist to cover. When he asked who that was, I replied “a really hard one to make PG.”
Cate Streissguth is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at email@example.com.