One of the reasons that tweens tend to loathe “children’s music” is their overwhelming desire to “grow up” and abandon the trappings of little kid-dom, whether it’s naptime, obediently following rules, or always being asked if they need the bathroom. My own (then) 10-year-old son turned to me during the pandemic, when I opened a package from a publicist, and asked “How much longer are you gonna [review] this stuff?”
My son’s pubescent mandate to listen to “adult” music is sublimated by certain performers whom he can’t help but appreciate. These include (but are not limited to) Justin Roberts, the Not-Its, and more recently, New Jersey’s Jumpin’ Jamie. These artists all have a rock sensibility and aren’t afraid to turn the knob all the way to 11 to get their points across with sonic intensity. Jamie’s third CD, Mosaic, pulsates with passion and purpose; the songs are invested with an eye on special needs, disabilities, and kids’ mental health.
Jamie invites children into a dance party, filled with modern-sounding tunes that pay tribute (or homage) to a bevy of performers like Weezer (“Empathy”) and the B-52s (“Truth Bomb”). Mosaic also serves as a “gateway” to artists like the Ramones (“They”), which recounts the issues that some people have respecting pronouns:
There’s they, are their, and also them
A singular pronoun from way back when
Their name was Ben but now it’s Jen
And I’ll tell you once again
If they prefer they, that’s what we’ll say
For full disclosure, Jamie discusses his color blindness on “Eye of the Beholder,” about optical illusions and truth in vision. Album co-producer Bob Runkel lives with cerebral palsy, which inspired “Limited Edition,” an anthem about being proud of the life you live. During the songwriting process, Runkel and Jamie discovered they were both diagnosed as developmentally disabled but their paths diverged – Runkel was segregated from classes in elementary school. Between verses, “Limited Edition” shifts perspectives to recount their experiences.
Mosaic is a collection that kids can enjoy whether or not their parents are in the room – and parents can say the same thing. Guest artists on the CD cover the gamut from disabled and LGBT+ communities, as well as performers from different countries and ethnic backgrounds. There’s a “We Are the World” feel on the closing title track, as it features a “who’s who” that I cannot summarize without giving someone short shrift. Jumpin’ Jamie isn’t on a quest to save the world, but he just might make your kids grudgingly give “children’s music” a second chance.
Here is the video for Jumpin’ Jamie’s song, “Let It Out”: