Raffi – Love Bug

Released: 7/15/2014

6/7

With Fink’s Hard Believer, Jason Mraz’s Yes, Bleachers’ Strange Desire, and Morrissey’s World Peace is None of Your Business all released this week, some might be curious why I was so excited about Raffi’s Love Bug. It’s been 12 years since Raffi’s last original children’s album – Lets Play (2002) – which was big when I was 8 but even after all this time I still know the words of this Egyptian-born Canadian singer-songwriter’s classic songs like “Banana Phone,” “Baby Beluga” and “C-A-N-A-D-A.” Due to the extreme success of his album Baby Beluga (1980), Raffi refers to any kid who grew up listening to his music Beluga Graduates – and this Beluga Grad was curious about his new album. Children’s music has an innocent enthusiasm that draws out the imagination of the kids listening while encouraging them to behave well and with over 20 albums under his belt Raffi exemplifies a mastery of this genre.

Love Bug is charming and encouraging of good behavior. Even though some of the tracks like “Seeing The Heart” have larger vocabulary and might be more aimed to the parents of the children listening, they seem like they would be great and keep the attention of little kids too. Raffi’s soothing and kind voice shinning over his self-played folk guitar accompaniment have brought a smile to my face while listening this week (with earphones in so any hypothetical street cred I have remains intact).

The lighthearted global troubadour has devoted much of his life to bettering the situations of children. In the founding of Centre for Child Honouring, which works to promote a child’s right to a life free of commercial exploitation, he has earned the Order of Canada – Canada’s second highest national award. He sticks by that principal of integrity and not only turns down many opportunities of commercial endorsement but he refuses to advertise his albums directly to children. During the down time between his last album and Love Bug, Raffi has also written a book called Lightweb Darkweb that advocates ways to reform social media with a focus on social media and our children.

  1. Love Bug
  2. Doggone Woods
  3. Mama Loves It
  4. Free to Play
  5. In the Real World
  6. Water in the Well
  7. On Hockey Days
  8. Seeing the Heart
  9. Cool Down Reggae
  10. Magic Wand
  11. Wind Chimes
  12. To the Park
  13. Pete’s Banjo
  14. This Land is Your Land
  15. Blue White Planet
  16. Turn This World Around

The first song on the album is a Randy Newman-esque title track “Love Bug” whose twinkling background piano will make you recall scenes from campy westerns. In the beginning of the official music video for “Love Bug” Raffi asks a handful of children what they think the love bug it. Need not worry though, as soon as the chorus comes in we are informed that “Love bugs, are where the hugs come from.” The highlight from Love Bug is the cheerful “Doggone Woods,” which has goofy puns that teach children about different types of trees as Raffi plays his acoustic guitar accompaniment. There may not be any “Baby Baluga” sized classics in Love Bug but the original music is fun and Raffi’s cover of the patriotic “This Land is Your Land” is very well done.

Love Bug may not be Sgt. Pepper’s or Pet Sounds, but it isn’t trying to be. What it is, is another round of fun children’s music that elementary school kids love and their parents as well as a handful of babysitting “Beluga Grads” will enjoy when it is popped into the car stereo.