Those relaxation music maestros at Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Rockstar are at it again.
Having trouble sleeping? Marilyn Manson’s got the cure.
Yes, the “Beautiful People” pariah is just one of many acts given the toddler-treatment by Roma Music Group, who launched its acclaimed line of lullaby versions of popular songs with its TTLRS catalog three years ago. Got a hankering for a remedial rendition of “Paradise City” by Guns ‘n’ Roses? How about The Black Keys’ “Lonely Boy” or Tool’s “Sober?”
Dead white European composers like Mozart, Brahms, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky no longer corner the market on diaper ditties. Now The Beatles, Radiohead, Coldplay, and Jack Johnson are just as likely to lull preemies to sleep as old Mother Goose music-box standbys like “Hush, Little Baby,” “Rock-a-Bye, Baby,” and yes—even “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
So crank the iPod in the nursery, replace that mobile hanging over sweetum’s crib with a mirror ball, and reload your mp3 player for bedtime.
The TTLRS library now boasts over 140 titles. Genres covered include Rock (Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam), Pop (Adele, Lady Gaga, Pink), Metal (Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Avenged Sevenfold), 80’s (U2, Duran Duran, The Police), Jam Bands (Dave Matthews, Phish, Grateful Dead), and Country (Jason Aldean, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift). In the Classic Rock corner you’ll find Rush, Journey, Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller, and Led Zeppelin. The Alternative section features White Stripes, The Killers, Radiohead, Deftones, and more. So there’s something soothing for every discerning Dad and music-loving Mom to placate junior at naptime.
TTLRS doubled its product line in 2012, adding Soundtrack Music (Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Glee, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Grease) and dozens of titles to the preexisting categories. It’s expanded exponentially since then, so there’s no shortage of comforting cool-downs for that special someone on the shopping list. That seventeen-year old nephew of yours into Slayer? TTLRS’s got some study sounds to keep him focused. Your granddaughter likes some ska band called Sublime? TTLRS has just the thing for her ballet warm-ups. Got a surgeon, dentist, or masseuse in the family? TTLRS downloads make for convenient, practical—and personalized—gifts that suggest you actually put a little thought into the recipient.
The latest additions to the TTLRS library include quiet twists on Alice in Chains, System of a Down, Prince, and Paul McCartney / John Lennon. The Alternative and Metal canon now boast titles dedicated to Jane’s Addiction, Incubus, A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails, Bullet for My Valentine, Slipknot, and Pantera.
Who’d have thought “Cemetery Gates” could soothe a child to sleep so effectively?
And now’s the perfect time to stock up on your holiday sounds. TTLRS has given Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas a makeover for Halloween 2013. And Christmas Lullabies Volumes 1 and 2 offer hushed-down, voiceless versions of your favorite winter classics: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” channels Andy Williams. “The Christmas Song” is based on Nat King Cole’s timeless take. “Feliz Navidad” mimics the melody popularized by Jose Feliciano. Heck, they’ve even got lullaby interpretations of familiar holiday fare by John Lennon (“Happy X-Mas”), Band-Aid (“Do They Know It’s Christmas,” Wham (“Last Christmas”), and David Bowie “Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth”).
Preview A Nightmare Before Christmas here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zp4cfoqNCso&list=TL4mZgSP3TddCy2aZVBPkEas…
Perhaps the best analogy of the “lullabizing” of a hit tune is that of a hibernating bear in winter. The usually formidable ursine hunkers down; its metabolic rate slows and its pulse drops. The animal is still recognizable as a bear and retains all the characteristic physical attributes of such. It’s just at rest, with all systems running at half-speed.
So it is with these unlikely interpretations of chart-toppers, club hits, and punk anthems. Song lyrics are ditched. The music is deconstructed, scrutinized, and rebuilt with emphasis on melody (as created by piano, synth, chimes, mallets, harps, etc.). The more decorative aspects of familiar songs are discarded—meaning Metallica’s distorted guitars are neutered and Depeche Mode’s Moogs sanitized. Percussion is sparse, with rhythmic instrumentation limited to shakers, sleigh bells, and clicks. Tempos are set to slow-mo, with peculiar or off-setting time signatures reigned in. Epic-length pieces are curtailed, with intros and redundant verses clipped in favor of memorable motifs or signature hooks, leaving behind byte-sized nuggets of aural bliss that clock in under five minutes apiece. Conversely, the hypersonic ninety-second jams by punkers like The Misfits find their running times doubled by the tempo decrease.
Roma employs graduates from MIT and Berkeley School of Music with an ear for detail and the technical skills needed to faithfully recreate—then re-imagine—soul hits by Bruno Mars, or alternative ditties by Blink 182 and The Clash.
“We choose the producer based on how well we think they can re-imagine a specific band,” explained TTLRS president Paul Modiano during an interview with us last year. “We also try to team up producers with bands they are fans of.”
As a result, the TTLRS titles contain accurate, respectful translations of some of the most recognizable melodies in popular culture. The essences of iconic pieces like Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing’” are left intact; it’s just that their measures have been distilled to their most basic elements. The slow pace allows tots (and music-savvy parents) to fully appreciate the notes comprising their favorite hooks. The music breathes well—like a snoring toddler—due in no small part to the focus on the silence between the notes, that lag time so conducive to aerobic and cardiovascular equilibrium.
Preview TTLRS The Misfits here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndSGtvEIfVo&list=TL4mZgSP3TddCy2aZVBPkEas…
The applications are endless. Newborns can finally nap to Daddy’s favorite Deftones tunes. But Mommy can also soak in her bubble bath to the softened sounds of Sting, The Smiths, and Depeche Mode. Your tae kwon do teen can meditate with Arcade Fire, and grandma can perform daily Tai Chi while listening to instrumental James Taylor. Aspiring young musicians might consider copping TTLRS cuts while learning piano and guitar. Students of the Suzuki Method won’t find more accessible, melody-centric, ready-to-imitate versions of their favorite Incubus song.
Baby may not know the words to that thirty-year old Stevie Wonder song—or any song—but that’s the whole idea. This music evokes moods—of comfort, security, rest—without the burden of language. And it’s probably best that preschoolers not know the meanings behind songs like Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” (drugs), Metallica’s “Fade to Black” (suicide), or Slayer’s “World Painted Blood” (mass murder) anyway.
The cutesy-but-clever TTLRS sleeve art recalls some of the most memorable albums in pop music history—but inserts its ubiquitous teddy bears into the scenes. The Duran Duran album art mimics the mauve covers for Rio, substituting the teddy bear for Patrick Nagel’s illustrated female model. The David Bowie illustration depicts a bear with lightning-bolt face paint, a la Aladdin Sane. Some of the allusions are subtler, however. The red, blue, and yellow filmstrips on The Police sleeve mimic the swathes of color on Synchronicity. The art for the TTLRS’s Rush compilation doesn’t resemble any one specific Rush album—but fans will note how the numbers on the clock above the fireplace reference 2112, the Canadian trio’s breakthrough concept album.
“We get a lot of positive feedback from the bands,” says Modiano. “They like it when their music is reinterpreted in a sophisticated way. Often they hear it as a novelty, and that doesn’t seem to make them too happy!”
The Christmas Lullabies and new titles (System of a Down, The Misfits, John Lennon, etc.) are available on iTunes along with Twinkle, Twinkle’s other earth-friendly digital downloads. So this year you can cozy up to the fire with your Bailey’s and actually enjoy Christmas music again instead of having your local radio station brow-beat you with blaring, up-tempo programming.
A portion of TTLRS profits is earmarked for the Crown Jewel Club, an El Segunda, California-based nonprofit working to keep girls out of gangs. The organization empowers at-risk teens with the basic etiquette and social skills needed for academic achievement and overall success in life.
TTLRS YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/TTLRSTAR?feature=watch
TTLRS Facebook https://www.facebook.com/twinkletwinklelittlerockstar