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Help. Katy Perry Stole My 4-Year-Old’s Singing Soul.

Katy Perry vs Bob Dylan

Once upon a time, I was a music snob. I wrote about music for magazines in New York City—a job that required me to keep my ears in a set of headphones and my eyes on every crusty Lower East Side club in search of the next big sound before it went nationwide.

I liked bands you have never heard of.

I was that guy.

And while age inevitably dulled my sense of cool, becoming a father rang the final death knell.  Underground music marched on but I remained firmly entrenched in the ‘90s, mourning the passing of college rock and grunge.

So it was with a sense of resignation that I watched my four-year-old’s musical tastes evolve from the sing-song mush of Raffi…to the glittery realm of female pop stars. My racks and racks of rare and expensive vinyl were no match for the upbeat tempos and irresistibly generic melodies of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Beyoncè. Like the rats who followed the Pied Piper, my daughter was easily led astray by these auto-tuned siren songs. If the song’s got a good beat and a killer hook, that’s all Little E cares about (and she’s usually got a 57-move choreographed dance routine to go along with it).

I should note that I have no problem with many of the messages coming from the current generation of pop singers. Songs like “Roar” and “Run the World” or “Shake It Off” are wonderful confections of female empowerment that I’m happy she gravitates toward.

But even so, the music snob inside of me grew increasingly frustrated. A friend of mine told me his son’s favorite movie as a toddler was The Last Waltz, a Martin Scorsese-directed documentary about The Band. He was probably lying, but still, I started to question what I should be doing differently.

There was also a whole other uneasy ethical angle to consider. Especially as a dad. For instance, Taylor Swift—or TayTay, as she’s known around the house—is the kind of all-American goody-goody that you can’t help but fall face-first in love with. She’s talented. She’s relatable. She’s cute. She’s mostly harmless.

Katy Perry, on the other hand? Let’s just say that when Little E is pretending to be TayTay, all she needs is a fake microphone. When she’s pretending to be Katy Perry, she fills her shirt with a couple of stuffed animals.

Luckily, the onset of Little E’s “pop song era” came hand in hand with her “once Dad likes it, it’s lame” phase. This played in my favor: As soon as I learned the lyrics and started singing along to her latest favorite song, she was over it and onto the next.             

If this is as bad as it gets for a music-snob dad, then I think I’ll be fine. Except that I know the dreaded “age of the boy band” is just around the corner.

And when that day comes, I will begin to sob silently onto my copy of Blonde On Blonde.
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