I have a soft spot in my heart for Miss Nina. Her second CD, 2013's SHA DOO BE DOOP, was the first time our son (then 2 1/2 years old) showed an active interest in selecting his own music. He would walk to the cabinet in the living room, carefully open the door, select her CD, turn on the CD/DVD player, put in the disc, and play the first two songs (usually). This month, when I brought home the new CD by Miss Nina and the Jumping Jacks, EVERY DAY'S YOUR BIRTHDAY, even though he is now five, he insisted I play it, despite the presence of two other CDs with more immediate release dates.
Sadly, time marches on and he is aging out of her demographic. Miss Nina records lively, upbeat original tunes (the title track and "DJ in My PJs") and energetic interpretations of "(Silly) Wheels on the Bus" and "Subway" (adapted from the Anastasia Suen/Karen Katz board book). With a three-year-old of her own, Miss Nina has both hands on her target audience, literally and figuratively.
Ably produced by Marc Bazerman (of Baze and His Silly Friends fame), Nina and friends give you a peppy "Freeze Dance," a strummable, hummable "Colors of You," and a motion-activity "Up and Down." On her weekly children's vlog, Nina takes on classics and oftentimes does some re-invention. "Five Little Pumpkins" puts a Halloween spin on the traditional one-at-a-time elimination. "(Silly) Wheels on the Bus" features jumping kangaroos, wiggling spaghetti, and marching soldiers in addition to children, parents, wipers, et al.
When we first heard "Every Hero," my older son thought it was Charity and the Jam Band, who are known for rocking slightly harder for slightly older sprites. But the song that delivered the biggest smile for my youngster was the closing "DJ in My PJs," the logical successor to "My Hula Hoop" from her last CD. It inspired him to jump on his bed and shout "I'm a DJ!" that night at bedtime.
The best thing you can say about any performer is that their passion is contagious. The dictotomy of entertaining the youngest of the young is that they are easy to amuse but you can't alienate the parents by being insufferably cute or infantile. Miss Nina walks that fine line of rousting the fervor of children without rustling the feathers of the elders of their flocks. EVERY DAY'S YOUR BIRTHDAY is a Brady Bunch-esque romp in the playground that the under-6 set will find enchanting and intoxicating. And it's over in a slim, lean 38 minutes before your caramel macchiato gets cold. That should inspire some jumping jacks.
EVERY DAY'S YOUR BIRTHDAY is available May 6 from Miss Nina's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.
Here is one of her latest video song posts, featuring "Roly Poly Caterpillar":