I haven’t seen the movie Bring It On, though the cover of the CD probably gives a good idea of what the movie’s about: a picture of some white cheerleader chicks shaking their butts and looking like the cat that ate the canary; next to it a picture of black cheerleader chicks shaking their butts and looking like they eat canaries every day for lunch, no big deal. And no pictures of canaries eating kittens, though that would be a good one.
Lia, the daughter of my friend Naomi, turns eight in a couple of weeks, and I’m thinking of giving her the Bring It On soundtrack for her birthday, except I don’t know if Naomi’d approve of it for her. Cuts 3 through 9 are uninterruptedly catchy, which is as good a stretch as you’ll get on any album this year, though of course Lia’s definition of “catchy” doesn’t always match mine—for instance, she likes ‘N Sync’s “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You,” which is more my definition of throw-uppiness than catchiness. Anyway, Bring It On is kiddie hooks and playground chants, which is to say that it’s pure Radio Disney (the film itself is PG-13, making this another insidious plot by Hollywood to market age-inappropriate material to preteens).
The good stretch starts with B*Witched covering Toni Basil’s “Mickey.” A couple years ago a friend of mine back in San Francisco told me that her 11-year-old daughter had just done a dance to that song for school. “It’s a nice song,” I said to her. “It’s got a line about wanting to get fucked in the ass.” My friend must have felt grateful at that moment to know someone who was a rock critic and who therefore could enrich her life with such information. (I assume that the reference to ass fucking was oblique enough for her daughter to miss it; if I’m remembering right, in the video Toni sticks her rear end out cutely for “Any way you wanna do it, I’ll take it like a man.” My friend’s daughter didn’t stick out her rear end like that, I’m guessing.) In any event, all this will be both over Lia’s head and beneath her notice. B*Witched give the tune that certain special nothing that they give everything, but the tune is fine and their blank cuteness is perfect for it, actually.
P.Y.T. do a pretty song called “Anywhere USA” which is cheerfully culturally imperialist (“Anywhere is home when you’ve got what we got”; the song could also have been entitled “Not in the Least Like a Rolling Stone” or “Our Moss Comes With Us”).
Let’s see. Daphne & Celeste’s “U.G.L.Y.” is a great little insult contest on the subject of ugly, and this is one of only two reservations I have about giving Lia the record, since she and her sisters don’t need any encouragement to call each other names. The other reservation is that when they hear the soundtrack they’ll want Naomi to take them to the movie, and though I assume that the PG-13 content will be unsalacious enough (actually, I don’t assume this, but I don’t care, though their mother will), I’m worried that the cheerleading acrobatics will inspire Lia to want to become a cheerleader, since cheerleaders jump all over the place and do flips and so on, and Lia loves to climb and flip and jump. She broke her arm last year swinging off a jungle gym, but as soon as she healed she was back on the monkey bars. In high school one of my best friends’ best friends was a cheerleader, so my objection to Lia’s becoming a cheerleader isn’t social. But that was years ago, and since then, according to The New York Times, cheerleading has become THE MOST DANGEROUS SPORT in high school and college, causing more deaths and serious head and neck injuries per participant than even football causes. But I don’t suppose there’s any way in the five years or so between now and the start of cheerleading age (seventh grade?) that Naomi will be able to shield Lia from knowledge of cheerleading. I’ve talked to Naomi about this. “She ought to watch cheerleading movies with you, and the two of you can discuss them together—after all, won’t it be better if she gets her information about cheerleading from her mother than from her friends? Well, I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.”
Next, Da Beat Bros: “Jump up if you’re feeling good and everybody get down tonight.” That paradox ought to be thought-provoking for Lia and her sisters. To emphasize the paradox, guys are chanting “jump” in the chorus while a gal is singing “get down.” “I’ve fallen and I can’t get down,” opines my former roommate Jim.
The Jungle Brothers’ “Freakin’ You” is about freaking. A decade ago I bought a well-regarded Jungle Brothers LP and have shunned them ever since, fearing more tedium, but I’m wondering now if avoiding them was a mistake.
95 South’s “Cheer for Me”: This is another catchy chant song, and I think the cultural life of Herzl Day School would be greatly improved if one of its brightest second-graders came to class singing “How’s about me and you, do what your momma told you not to do/Like 68, 69, get behind a little bump and grind.”
Sister2sister’s “What’s a Girl to Do?”: A sister sings, “Don’t get so tense when I hang with my friends.” Well, maybe when she hangs with her friends she means literally that she hangs (and jumps and flips and makes pyramids). OK, she’s a cheerleader now.