January 12, 2010

Kids, as a business entity

Remember this?

Wow, that is just unbelievably cheesy. Pretty much the most '80s thing you can imagine, apart from Tron or a pack of Pac-Man scratch-off cards. I was reminded of Kids Incorporated recently when I was searching Songza for Foreigner songs (seriously), and I was confronted by a Kids Inc. version rather than the magic of Lou Gramm. For the uninformed: Kids Incorporated was essentially a sitcom about a teenage band in Fort Greene, Brooklyn; intermittent musical numbers featured the colorfully wholesome, leg-warmered and MJ-jacketed band rocking out to mostly contemporary hit songs. K! I! D! S!

This show is perhaps best remembered today as the teenage proving ground for several current celebrities of various import. Fergie--Stacy Ferguson, at the time--was in fact the longest-serving cast member. Here, she does an extremely unconvincing impression of both Elvis Presley and a prison inmate:

(And no, this rendition will not be included in the next BQT audio round, "Maximum Elvis.")

Perhaps the second most celebrated KI alum is Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was merely "Love Hewitt" in those days (cool!). Here, she majorly fucks with my psyche by covering the theme song of my age-13 black-wearing depression phase, Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up":

There are a few other honored alumni, People magazine minor-leaguers, not worth discussing here (try Wikipedia if you're curious). These clips are kind of embarrassing, but I find it hard to hate on KI. Those kids are giving a couple thousand percent out there, and the performances have a kind of guileless charm that's easy to admire, if not to tolerate. True, it viciously sands down any and all edges of the source material, but Kids Incorporated was merely one of many, many culprits in that regard in the 1980s. Besides, you cannot tell me that the music is any less insipid than most of American Idol (and it doesn't have the overpowering, rancid stink of desperation).
Also, if I am to be honest, a few of my prepubescent fantasies were about actually being on the show myself. My mom and dad were a couple million miles away from showbiz parents, but as the dork who sang along to American Top 40, I dreamed about doing so on TV, for the supposed admiration of millions of fellow kids. In hindsight, I would've been a better fit for You Can't Do That on Television, since I was a smart-ass who couldn't dance and wasn't cute. But I can thank Kids Incorporated for my current love of karaoke. And yes, that is worth offering thanks for.