Something shocking has happened at McDonald’s, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the embezzlement scandal that sent Mayor McCheese to white collar prison in the mid-80s. For the first time in its almost 30 year existence, the Happy Meal’s freebie is a piece of media rather than a cheap, plastic doodad.
Clouds part, angels sing. And sing they will, to the jaunty tunes of Kidz Bop.
McDonald’s is in the throes of its first-ever CD-based Happy Meal promotion as part of a global partnership with the children’s entertainment brand. For the next few weeks, wee McDonald’s customers will receive one of eight sampler Kidz Bop CDs in their Happy Meals. Each includes four Kidz Bop tracks (relatively current pop songs, reworked with children’s singing voices) and the “bonus” (I use the term loosely) original track, “Kidz Bop World.”
I hear you hyperventilating. The initial thought terrified me, too. My kids are four and two and love listening to music, but the only yoot-focused offerings I’d heard were on the Kids’ Place station on Sirius. The limited selection there includes the likes of Davy Jones wanting to be my personal penguin or, worse yet, the Ceti eel of all songs, “Fruit Salad” by the Wiggles.
Mother of God, make it stop.
But because Kidz Bop ditties are redone versions of pop songs, parents are more likely to enjoy (or at the very least, tolerate) listening to them with their kids. The McDonald’s offerings have songs like “SOS,” “Complicated,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” and “Hey There Delilah.” SO much better than “Baby Beluga.”
It’s surprising that it took 30 years for McDonald’s to produce a Happy Meal “toy” that parents and kids can enjoy together. Just as the company has lowered the “garbage” factor of its meals with white meat chicken, apples and milk, this is a step up from the plastic crapola many moms pitch the second our children aren’t looking.
The partnership is a brilliant move for Kidz Bop, which has sold more than 11 million CDs over the past eight years and now is on compilation 15, but whose brand is a virtual unknown to many (like me). How better to get millions of product samples (which can be produced for next to nothing) into the tiny hands of your target market of five to nine year olds? Marketing of the partnership includes traditional offerings as well as regular Kidz Bop tweets. Bases covered. The timing is genius, too. We’re about to embark on summer vacations, and more families will save money this year by driving. Try keeping a toddler occupied in the back seat for 10 hours with nothing but a My Little Pony miniature.
Of course, anything involving McDonald’s is bound to fire up mommy blog controversy. Apparently for some, the notion of a tot receiving one of these CDs rather than a toy is a Shakespearean tragedy. The horror. But more parents are up in arms over lyrics deemed inappropriate for their kids.
There is a little overreacting there, but I too found some of the lyrics unsettling. For instance, on the CD we received, Kidz Bop changed the lyrics of Buckcherry’s “Sorry” from “I know how you kiss, I know all your sounds” to “I love how you sing, I love how you sound” and yet left “And when I see you cry, it makes me want to die” untouched. Ditto for the “If not for me then you’d be dead” line preserved in 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite.” As in every other form of media, sexual content raises eyebrows, but we’re numb to death.
I wish McDonald’s had done a better job vetting the lyrics, but overall, the Kidz Bop partnership is a refreshing shift and one that I hope paves the way for more interesting content in Happy Meals that both parents and children can enjoy.
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