Where Nursery School Meets Loony Bin

As a parent, you realize very quickly that you’re going to have to watch a lot of crap on TV you really don’t want to. At first, it’s because you realize a certain program can calm down a hysterical baby or hasten sleepy-time. (For my kid, that certain program was Predator.)

Eventually, your child will develop his/her own tastes and want to watch the same movie or show over and over and over again. And thanks to DVDs and video on demand, it’s easier than ever before to indulge this OCD. Of course, none of this stuff is meant for your adult eyes/brain, but some of it grates on you more than others.

Like many preschool kids, The Baby went through a Caillou phase, which I believe she has finally outgrown (knock on wood). If you don’t have children, you have probably never seen this show and I suggest you continue to avoid it. Caillou is about a four-year-old bald kid who is an enormous weiner. I can’t think of a better word to describe this kid; “weiner” covers it, with its implication of profound uncoolness.

There’s nothing really wrong with the show in aggregate, but the character of Caillou drives me up the wall. He has a squeaky little kid voice with a pronounced Canadian accident. He is preternaturally well-spoken and well-behaved in a way that no four-year-old has ever been. And everything in the world must revolve around him. If you remember The Kids in the Hall sketches with Bruce McCulloch as Gavin, Caillou is like a slightly younger version of that.

Oh, and Caillou has songs. Almost all little kid shows do, but these songs feel slapped together, both lyrically and musically. Really slapped together. I think they were all written by Garth and Kat.

This clip below is a perfect example. I can’t remember why Caillou is singing about being in a rock and roll band, not that it matters. The song clearly takes longer to listen to than the composer took to write it.

And yet, when I heard this song, it struck a chord. It reminded me of something–not despite its threadbare intellect, but because of it. It rattled at the back of my mind for a while, searching for a connection, until it hit me like a bolt from the blue: It sounds exactly like Wesley Willis’ “Rock and Roll McDonalds”. Don’t believe me? Have a listen.

In case you don’t remember or were too young to catch him the first time around, Wesley Willis was a schizophrenic who rose to “fame” in the 1990s thanks to songs he made with Casio keyboard presets, which he used to drive away the “demons in his head” that would take him on “hellrides”. Some of his songs were about how much he loved music, some were about beating up superheroes, and some were obscene rants involving animals.

Of course, since every Wesley Willis song sounds exactly the same, you could say “Caillou’s Rock and Roll Band” resembles any of them. But I think this comparison is more apt than, say, “Eat a Panda’s Ass.”