They call him Mr. A-Z

I like to peruse the Billboard charts on occasion. This week, I happened to do so to laugh at Jason Mraz’s pitiful debut at 52. It’s always nice to see that no one cares about things they shouldn’t care about. By the way, when I used the possessive apostrophe on “Mraz” I almost didn’t think I needed to add the ‘s.’ You know, like when you write “Jesus’ love,” you don’t need an extra ‘s’ to know its there.
Anyway, on my way down the list towards Mraz, I had a jaw-drop moment. The soundtrack for the movie Alvin and the Chipmunks was the No. 7 best selling album in America last week. Not only that, but it has been dancing around the top 10 for the past 20 weeks! That movie, with its creepy CGI rats, was released on Dec. 14. I find it hard to imagine a thought or a conversation that led someone to buy the Alvin and the Chipmunks soundtrack months after the movie was released:
Husband: there isn’t anything on the radio I like, dear.
Wife: Hmm, well maybe we could go to Costco and buy a new compact disc.
Husband: And then I could, in effect, be my own DJ! I like it, but what CD should we buy?
Wife: Hmm, what’s that one we always talk about getting? You know, with all those songs we like.
Husband: Oh yeah, from that one movie … that was released nearly five months ago.
Wife: And it’s sort of just covers of previously recorded songs but with squeaky voices …
Husband: I got it, Alvin and the Chipmunks!
Wife: Oh, I love their version of “Funky Town!”
It’s hard to believe, I know, but this apparently happened (in some shape or form) tens of thousands of times in the past week. As well as every week before that for the past 20 weeks! Why does this CD have such longevity? Is its popularity spreading via word of mouth or something?
“No, I know it sounds silly and that this is just a C-rated film update of cartoon singers, but seriously you need to hear this album … they’ve got this crazy track called ‘Get Munk’d.’”
Now, the Chipmunks have won five Grammys and had a couple No. 1 hits since their inception in 1958, but I think that can all be contextualized. It was a novelty; the sped up vocals were pretty ingenious and the chipmunks were pretty cute. It was also pre-Beatles, which means people listened to a door creak open and were impressed. Not that there wasn’t good music in the first 1,960 years of the Common Era but some pretty goofy stuff got put on the radio.
But with what we know now, it’s strange that people are still interested in a novelty recording trick that any middle school kid with a Mac can do just as well. An argument may be that small children like it, but I prefer the counter argument that says “you shouldn’t let your children like dumb things.” I suppose, at the end of the day, I’d be happier if my 5-year-old liked the Chipmunks more than Jason Mraz though, and apparently America agrees. But if the chipmunks sang “The Remedy,” now that’s something I could get into … it’s like when you multiple two negative numbers, you know?

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