My Songs – A Spotify app for Children

My Songs is a new Spotify app from USM Junior which has carefully selected songs for children sorted into playlists.

My Songs app

My Songs can be found on Spotify here – there are several genres playlisted, including pop – which is where H’s latest direction seems to be heading.

Casting my mind back to the summer holidays in Australia, we would be driving around listening to Triple J, and they’re so less conservative than us Brits – you would occasionally get songs with bad words – and now H can read and takes in so much more, she asks questions about the lyrics. Some lady was talking about how her boy did bad things which she picked up on right at the end, and asked us questions. PHEW we thought, as the song finished, only for James’s ‘Laid’ to be the next song… uuh.  “This bed is on fire with passionate love, The neighbours complain about the noises above, But she only comes when she’s on top” – we changed channel.

This made us wish there was a radio station for children, but that had music which was tolerable for us parents too – a sort of pop music for everyone channel rather than songs about steamy love stuff. (and there’s only so many times you can listen to the Frozen soundtrack before you ban it for a few hours, for the sake of your own sanity)

This is where the My Songs app comes in handy. Much as I love that I’ve passed my love of musicals on to H, I do need a break from them. These days you can stream Spotify on your phone, and even my phone plugs into our new car stereo – so when the radio lets you down there is another alternative, and it isn’t annoying!

We’ve been looking at the Pop playlists, and pretty much everything on there is a track H likes – I know I can leave her with the music running and not have to vet the songs, making sure there’s nothing too dodgy (a bit like you can with musicals!).

USM Junior

On the launch of the My Songs App Karen Meekings USM’s Creative, Media and Digital Executive comments-

“We are delighted to be launching the first UK based music discovery app for children and their parents, available exclusively on Spotify. The animated App is easy to use and offers the best in children’s music with perfect playlists for every occasion from popular TV themes for the under 5’s through to current party hits for older children. Whatever their age the app offers a fun experience in a secure environment–it’s music fun for cool kids”

USM Junior also has its own YouTube channel called My USM Jr which already has over 2,000 subscribers and over 3 Million video views.

I like that the hard work has been done for you so you know what you’re playing is safe for young ears – and would highly recommend My Songs – give it a try!

We were sent a CD from USM Junior who are the people behind this app. All opinions are our own.

Eurovision and Music in General

Last weekend H watched her first ever Eurovision. We allowed her to stay up a bit later than usual – much like I did back when I was her age.

When it started, when the first performers arrived on stage, H greeted the occasion with an amazed “wowwww!!” – she had never seen anything like it. People performing songs on stage, taking their turns from various countries who were eligible to compete.

“Are these people really singing?” she asked, as I confirmed this and felt sad inside. See, H is growing up in the world of the music video. Of YouTube or whichever visual streaming place you choose. A place where live performances are rare, and pre-recorded ones are normal.

When I grew up it was the opposite. There’s one reason why she’s never experienced this – because we don’t have Top of the Pops any more. Sad but true.

We would watch Top of the Pops every week when I was young, I’d be loving the Bay City Rollers, and indeed after my first Eurovision a bit of ABBA too. This was an exciting fast-moving world, bands playing live and performing on television.

Heck, I hate to say it as I don’t tend to like most of the bands, but these days programmes like Later With Jools Holland are where I get that fix. Not so for H.

It’s sad isn’t it? For just one night a year she can watch twenty six people perfoming live on stage to get that buzz back again. Performances, silly things, anything. The kind of thing which was normal when I was young. Sure, there’s Christmas Top of the Pops, but that isn’t the same – if you don’t have that connection with the songs on a weekly basis (and we don’t – we currently don’t have a radio other than the one that wakes me up in the morning) then it means very little.

But then this is the digital age, this is where you find it yourself. This is where the older kids, older siblings play it as they’ve found it and the younger kids or younger siblings pass it on to their friends. A different kind of word of mouth.

When I was at school in the eighties I wrote the Top 40 down pretty much every week, stopping around 1987. We’d sit huddled around a radio scribbling down the countdown (and that took some work) then look forward to Top of the Pops later in the week. These days the Top 40 is on the BBC website, you can click on a link and you’re taken to the music. You don’t have to sit through the rubbish (yet sitting through the rubbish helped me appreciate the good stuff) and there are occasional gems.

We recorded the second half of Eurovision and H watched it the following day. The only song she’s remembered a fair chunk of? Our British entry – Molly’s ‘Children of the Universe’. For its poor final score, the fact a four year old can remember it says to me it wasn’t a bad song. I got the Common Linnets (Netherlands) in the work sweepstake, and most of the Top 100 is peppered with Eurovision songs – with this one being the highest. H recognises what she hears, knows where she knows them from.

For all the ridicule Eurovision might get, this is our kids of today’s Top of the Pops. It’s just a pity it’s only once a year!

Go! Go! Go! Show Giveaway!

Last year at Lollibop we must have seen the Go! Go! Go! Show several times in one day, and funnily enough it was Shaun who knew most of the songs…. must’ve been all those mornings he spent doing the ironing before work while watching Nick Jr, right? I also know he’s not the only dad to do this….

Go! Go! Go! Show

Go! Go! Go! Show is a fun five minute segment in the morning on Nick Jr, perfect for young ones (and dads) with simple pop songs and dance routines; and they’re releasing a new CD/DVD album on April 7th 2014, Radio Go! Go! Go!. Join Gemma, Carl, Jade, Steve and Holly plus the permanently confused Mr Baffled and his sock guzzling side-kick the Fluffalope as they take over the Radio and TV airwaves of the Islands of Baffadopolis for a wild and exciting fun-filled pop music extravaganza.

It just so happens I have three copies to give away. Before we get to that bit, let me tell you a few bits I know… they’re heading out on tour next month.

Go! Go! Go! Show at Lollibop 2013

Tour Dates:

12/4 Sheffield University
13/4 Leeds City Varieties
14/4 Mill Volvo Tyne Theatre Newcastle
15/4 Palace Theatre Manchester
16/4 Town Hall Birmingham
17/4 Leamington Spa Assembly
18/4 Ipswich Regent Theatre
21/4 O2 Shepherds Bush Empire

Radio Go! Go! Go!

The album is a CD/DVD package, and features all the Go! Go! Go! songs you know and love – ‘Wake Up Smiling’ of course, ‘This is the Life’ and ‘Lay the Rhythm Down’ to name just three. Here’s the tracklist –

CD Contents
1  Wake Up Smiling
2  This Is The Life
3  Lay The Rhythm Down
4  Blue Sky Sunshine Day
5  My Picture Of The World
6  Choices
7  The Get Along Song
8  Questions Questions
9  It’s Your Birthday
10  Holiday Bay
11  Let Him Go
12  Hey There Sleepy Head

DVD Contents
13 Wake Up Smiling (Karaoke)
14 It’s Your Birthday (Karaoke)
15 Wake Up Smiling (Music Video with Intro)
16 This Is The Life (Music Video with Intro)
17 Lay The Rhythm Down (Music Video with Intro)
18 Choices (Music Video with Intro)
19 The Get Along Song (Music Video with Intro)
20 Questions Questions (Music Video with Intro)
21 Hey There Sleepy Head (Music Video with Intro)
22 Wake Up Smiling (Learn The Dance Moves)
23 Questions Questions (Learn The Dance Moves)
24 Go!Go!Go! At Work and Play

Have a little video taken at Lollibop last year

So yes, we have three copies of Radio Go! Go! Go! to give away! So that’s three winners – fancy your luck? Here goes… Ends on the 3rd April 2014 at midnight – so not long!

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Big Fish Little Fish September Event

The Big Fish Little Fish September event had its official launch in Brixton, at the Effra Social club. We went to a pre-launch in the summer which we enjoyed. Big Fish Little Fish is a new afternoon club for those of us who used to go out; think of it as being like a playgroup which plays music you can dance to as well, with beer!

Big Fish Little Fish flyerBig Fish Little Fish September had a theme – a nautical one. That was fairly easy for us, so we got H ready to be a pirate – a stripy t-shirt and leggings plus a neckerchief I quickly made with spare fabric and some wonder web, though we had no hat. Fortunately the craft room was up and running where you could make so many different kinds of things – which included the aforementioned hats – fun!

Actually, most of Saturday was about fun; be it dancing, eating, making, or creating.

Big Fish Little Fish September craft

H got a free Cheeky Monkey smoothie and some Bear YoYo snacks and got on with the job in hand – there was plenty of craft supplies to choose from too, as well as some nautically themed temporary tattoos. At the licensed bar there were sausage rolls and scotch eggs at a reasonable price, as well as cupcakes from Rosie’s Deli Cafe in the craft area.

Big Fish Little Fish September pirate

What is there to say about the Big Fish Little Fish September event, compared to last time? The volume of the music was lower and one we could talk and dance with – it was perfect – not too loud for kids (or my) ears. The event just had two DJs this time – Strictly Kev aka DJ Food from Ninja Tune and Will Nicol which I felt kept the downstairs area going – I didn’t notice the changeover. H danced to some Future Sound of London, reggae, I tried to get her to dance to 808 State (she refused), and so much more – The Prodigy and SL2 (“mummy’s work put this out” I told her, she wasn’t impressed but still danced). There were glitter bombs, bubbles, a large parachute at the end and one very tired H. She loved her glowstick which is given for free at the door, which she made into a bracelet.

Big Fish Little Fish September dancefloor

We didn’t get to the chill-out room but did spend a lot of time in the craft area – which was brilliantly organised, with plenty of supplies – there’s plenty of things for kids to do, and if they love dancing the dancefloor is just the right size.

October’s event is on Saturday 19th with a theme of ‘Things that go bump in the night’ – and for us it’s an easy journey, the train from Carshalton to Herne Hill just twenty minutes, and the walk from there no more than ten – and a good route via Brockwell Park, avoiding the main roads too which also has a giant wooden conker near the venue. If you fancy food in the area afterwards we can recommend Olleys – we had a feast and came away with change from £40 too – and it’s very child-friendly.

brockwell park giant conker

We really enjoyed the Big Fish Little Fish September event and already a few of my friends are talking about going to the next one, see you there!

Thank you to Natasha for organising free tickets for us, this hasn’t affected our opinion of the event at all!

The Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist

What’s your Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist?

MoneySupermarket have a new competition, to compile the Ultimate Summer Driving playlist, as THINK! research suggests that almost 20% of accidents on major roads are sleep or tiredness related. Long journeys on motorways can lead to a lack of concentration and, as well as other preventative measures, listening to songs you love can be a great way to stay alert and focused on the road.

Back when I had to drive back to York a lot on my own, I created a playlist on my iPod to help keep me focused and awake, and a lot of these songs featured. When you’re driving for four hours or more you need something which doesn’t let you drift off.

This is mine – it’s going to be easy as we created a Summer Playlist on Spotify at work which keeps getting songs added to it.


This reminds me of the Reading Festival in the early 90s, Buffalo Tom playing ‘Summer’ on the stage and my friend Helen and I dancing on the grass clutching a pint of beer singing along. Aah. It’s good for driving too.

Bananarama’s ‘Cruel Summer’ is another essential. They make fun pop music and there isn’t enough of that these days. They also didn’t take themselves too seriously.

But when you’re driving you do need your music faster with lots of ‘oo’s in there, you know the sort of thing. Lucky we have The Undertones then with ‘Here Comes The Summer’. See, you can mix up the slower with the fast too, that way you’re always kept on your toes.

Not all summer music needs to be pop. Everyone needs a bit of rock in their lives and Queens of the Stone Age have theirs with the top driving song ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ which probably has the least appropriate refrain to sing in front of your child. Better save that one for solo drives… or headphones.

This one always makes it on to my summer playlists – I was a huge Lush fan, and when they (sadly) split and Emma formed Sing-Sing their first single was this, a top summer pop moment, ‘Feels Like Summer’.

If I was to choose the ultimate two driving songs which I think are in my key, these two win. They’re not summer songs, they’re perennial. But they DRIVE.

and this because the video makes me think of the summer and it’s really silly. One night driving home from work Magic AND Heart played it within ten minutes of each other. I drove the long route home. Oh yes.

I hope you like them, I could have made a longer list but I’m sparing you all.

I was gifted an amount of money to pay for these songs – all opinions are my own.

Big Fish Little Fish Events Brixton Giveaway, September.

Big Fish Little Fish events have arrived in Brixton – have you heard of them? We went to a special preview and reviewed it earlier this month and I hesitate to share this as the quality is so poor, but you get the idea (and it’s only 15 seconds), but H came out of her shell and showed off dance moves we never knew she had. I think I spent more time open-mouthed as she twirled around.

This could be YOUR child. Remember those songs from the 1990s to these days you used to dance to? (Voodoo Ray, The Sun Rising, Hanging On A String, Hey Ya and so many more songs that will come flooding back when you hear them).  Your child could let themselves go and twirl around the dancefloor too (the glowstick is compulsory) – Big Fish Little Fish events are a new monthly social and you could go too if you fancy entering this giveaway! (n.b. I say danced as if you’re anything like us you don’t have the time, money, energy or will to actually stand up and shuffle your feet beyond making food or getting to work – it’s not just me, right?).

Big Fish Little Fish Events

I have a Family ticket to give away for Big Fish Little Fish’s September event. It’s on the 21st and is at the Effra Social in Brixton – walkable from Brixton tube and Herne Hill station and runs from 2-4.30 and has a theme of ‘Sailing the Seven Seas’ – it’s also their launch party.

Please note – travel is NOT included – so I’d recommend you’re based in London and can get there easily. Tickets will be provided direct by Big Fish Little Fish.

Tickets are on sale now at We Got Tickets and there are loads of reviews coming in – including a great feature in Time Out this week. Good luck!

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Big Fish Little Fish Events – 2-4 Hour Party People

Big Fish Little Fish Events are a new monthly Sunday afternoon event in Brixton.

If you know your ‘Voodoo Ray’ from your Voodoo Queens then this may be for you – Big Fish Little Fish Events.

The tagline ‘2-4 hour party people’ made me chuckle – if you remember 1990 (or indeed if you don’t remember 1990 but have children now) then this will be your cup of tea.

Big Fish Little Fish EventsWe attended a special launch event to get a taster of what’s to come. Big Fish Little Fish is held at the Effra Social in Brixton and has a bbq and ice cream stall at the front with a cash bar and cakes from Rosie’s Deli Cafe in the main dance area – plus there’s healthy snacks for kids. H got a glowstick bracelet which she’s become surgically attached to (quite literally).

I spotted a buggy and scooter storage area too which is safe and covered.

Our first impressions – it was quite loud – we couldn’t really chat to each other much and H has never been a fan of loud places, but after a little nudge she was off, this may have something to do with me appealing to her competitive nature (‘I bet you can’t dance as well as me’).

Big Fish Little Fish’s DJ’s didn’t play at club-level volume though it was high – with my tinnitus ears it felt sensitive – but if you’re used to higher volume music you’ll be fine – just bear it in mind if your child is like H.

Mid-way through the event we had a cockney knees-up from Nanna of Underbling and Vow, before we were straight back into dancing – from ‘Hey Ya’ by Outkast to some Chic to some ‘Hanging on a String’ by Loose Ends (where I had a weird urge to dance on one leg – did they do that?) – so it’s not strictly rave but it has a good beat. H was in her element and loved dancing to these.

We sat outside towards the end and sampled the ice cream from Crystal Creams – the perfect weather and we were hot and needed to cool down.

Outside families discussed the festivals they were going to this year – albeit with their kids. It’s an afternoon social designed for us former festival goers who miss our old music while keeping it child-friendly. There were balloons all over the venue which H enjoyed.

We missed the very end, and reading Twitter it sounds like ‘The Sun Rising’ was the final Big Fish Little Fish song, sigh. I love that song too…

Big Fish Little Fish events will run monthly from September 21st from 2-4.30pm each event with a fancy dress theme. Tickets are a very reasonable price too – check the site for more info. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

We were given free entry to the launch event, all opinions are our own!

Monsters University Soundtrack

Out now is the Monsters University soundtrack – here’s our review.

The Monsters University Soundtrack  is out now. We saw the film a couple of weeks ago, and loved it. I reviewed it for the very lovely Sharon over at I Heart Motherhood where we had a fabulous time.

Monsters University soundtrack

So, the soundtrack – think of it as more of a score than a soundtrack. While certain things didn’t bring back memories, one of the key bits of the film, the disco in the frat party, stood out and the music from Axwell & Sebastian Ingrosso of Swedish House Mafia is definitely our highlight of the songs here. It also has H jump up and dance every time (while pulling her best monster face).

The score is composed by Randy Newman and doesn’t disappoint, as ever. The last song is the only one with any vocals, everything else is instrumental – and Newman added a unique flair to his score, calling on renowned international drum corps The Blue Devils to contribute a definitively collegiate sound. The composer also used elements of concert band music to create the feeling of being in school. In fact, said Newman, “There’s a little bit of Brahms’ ‘Academic Festival Overture’ when Mike is riding the pig. I like to think Brahms would be extremely flattered by his inclusion in the score.”

Not all songs featured in the movie are on the soundtrack. Mastodon’s song ‘Island’ is one which jumps out, though you can buy it separately rather than as part of the soundtrack anyway. If you enjoyed Monsters University, then you’ll probably enjoy the Monsters University Soundtrack.

Check out the trailer which features a lot of the Swedish House Mafia song!

The Monsters University Soundtrack is available now as a download

We were sent a digital copy of the album for review. Please note the download link is an affiliate link.

Jump Up and Join In With Carrie and David Grant

Jump Up and Join In With Carrie and David Grant is a new series of books and an app – read on to find out more.

Jump Up and Join In with Carrie and David Grant are a series of books created to encourage children to learn various aspects of music – rhythm, quiet, loud and much more. – H and I were invited to Egmont’s offices to preview an app based on the first book ‘Lion’s Speedy Sauce’.

Jump Up and Join In

We received a copy of ‘Elephant’s Birthday Bells’ in our goody bag, a book we’re already familiar with – all the stories are based around music and rhythm with a CD at the back (so you can play and read along) as well as a song. We’ll follow this up with a review of the first two books but this event was to launch an accompanying app for the first book, ‘Jump Up and Join In – Lion’s Speedy Sauce’.

We got to meet Carrie and David – and they’re both really lovely (and yes, I didn’t mention David’s eighties pop career in Linx, I was very well-behaved) and I had a quick chat with Carrie about music.

Jump Up and Join In with Carrie and David Grant

What appeals to me about the Jump Up and Join In books and the app are how you can come at the book from various angles – children all learn differently and there’s many entry levels into the books – be it listening to the CD’s or looking at pictures or playing the app to name three, and Carrie and David recognise this, having experienced different kinds of learning with their children. We’ve missed Carrie and David’s Pop Shop due to H’s age, but I like what they’re doing. Shows like Zingzillas came after them – and we spoke of an appreciation of Yo Gabba Gabba and shows which come at music differently.

It doesn’t have to be high energy nursery rhymes all the time (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but y’know).

Jump Up and Join In - H at Egmont Books

For me, the proof this is our kind of thing came with H singing the ‘Ella Elephant’ song a day after we listened to the Jump Up and Join In CD for the first time – so I’m looking forward to updates on the app to include the other books.

Next week we’ll follow this up with a review of the app, but on first glance I’m impressed. H liked having the story read to her, though wasn’t as keen to have her picture taken (I have no idea why she was shy!) – you can add yourself as a character to dance with Carrie and David. The activities involved playing the bongos to a rhythm, and happily David told us that you can’t get it wrong, even the worst score would get a bronze star so your child doesn’t feel like they’ve failed.

Jump Up and Join In - Carrie and David

We’ll also be reviewing the book we received – and as David said, when children are learning and having fun they’ll learn so much more. I agree, and have sung scales with H for the first time ever – but more on that very soon. Right now I’d recommend you keep an eye out for the app which is released on Monday and is currently Apple only, though there was talk of more versions being available possibly.

Thank you to Egmont for the invite, and thank you to Carrie and David for being there to explain it all – you’ve gained two big fans here! 

Mick Jagger by Philip Norman – We Love Books

Mick Jagger by Philip Norman was recently published by HarperCollins.

Shaun here, having stolen Jo’s book to read on the condition I review it here. I’m going to sprinkle in a few Rolling Stones song titles (see if you can spot them)…. so start me up!

Mick Jagger by Philip Norman

The author has one a good job of covering the formative Mick Jagger years, and the 60’s/70s era Stones – this period makes up most of the book. It’s interesting to learn that Mick comes from such mundane surroundings as Dartford and later went to the London School of Economics (although he didn’t graduate – he chose to see how far the Rolling Stones would take him), and how he met Keith Richards on a train platform one morning, as he happened to be carrying around some blues records and Keith spotted them. We can also see how the Rolling Stones started off with Brian Jones as the leader and driving force, then Mick taking the mantle later on as Brian succumbed to drug and health problems.

Mick Jagger by Philip Norman generally portrays Mick as a fairly ruthless unsympathetic character – he doesn’t treat the (many!) women in his life well, and also had a child with singer Marsha Hunt and strenuously denied it was his though it was eventually revealed he was wrong. I had no sympathy (for the devil) (Sorry!).

On the other hand it was clear he was the driving force behind the Rolling Stones – they wouldn’t have got as far or done as well had it not been for him. He is also given a lot of credit for staying on stage in very difficult circumstances during the Altamont concert in 1969.

It doesn’t go into any detail whatsoever about creating music or recording the albums, and just tends to say something like (to paraphrase) “and then they went in to record ‘Exile on Main Street’ in the south of France” without any depth – so look elsewhere if you’re looking for any great insights into the recording process or music writing process.

About 7/8 of the book brings the reader up to the mid-seventies, with the last eighth of the book covering then until now – it’s very abbreviated to say the least – obviously the sixties and seventies are going to be more interesting than later on, but I found it a little disappointing how quickly the last 30 years was covered. You can’t always get what you want, I guess…

Overall the book does succeed in describing the events, people and comings and goings in Sir Mick Jagger’s life – although you are left with a feeling that he is a somewhat aloof figure, not particularly interested in reliving and going through his past life. It’s a long book and took a while to read – it’s a comprehensive read and I did find it enjoyable.

Wild Horses wouldn’t have prevented me from finishing this book (sorry again!)

We received this book for the purpose of review, all opinions are our own.