As an adult listening and tappin’ toes to the rockin’, peppy and wildly motivational title track to veteran Grammy nominated children’s music duo Greg & Steve’s 20th album Get Up & Dance (subtitle: Songs and Stories That Rock), a key thought came to mind. Though the song, like the whole dynamic and uber-fun 9-track collection, uses infectious music in a variety of styles to promote movement, social-emotional development and early literacy, why should the pre-school and kindergarten kiddos have all the fun? It’s the perfect song to inspire us to get off our collective duffs and celebrate our (cautious, of course) emergence back into the mainstream after a year or so in literal and relative quarantine.
The fact that tracks like “Get Up & Dance,” the vibrantly synthy and tropical, ring around the rosey/hokey-pokey inspired singalong “Dancing in the Ring” (a circle game co-written with Ugandan superstar Eddy Kenzo) and the jangly, vocal harmony laden romp “Happy Dance” capture adult sensibilities even as they excite the youngsters is no surprise considering Greg & Steve’s unique multi-faceted history capturing millions of imaginations over the course of an incredible 45+ years.
An outgrowth of their early work as special ed teachers, the duo, since releasing their debut album We All Live Together, Vol. 1 in 1975, have sold over five million albums (making them the bestselling children’s duo in the U.S.), performed thousands of shows (including prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall) and won an extraordinary array of accolades – including 10 Parents’ Choice Awards, National Association of Parent Publications Award (NAPPA), Director's Choice Award, Early Childhood News, Children's Web Award, The 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award - American Library Association (ALA), DR TOY AWARDS, a Creative Child Magazine Award and others. The titles of their albums since 2000 convey a similar joy and movement as Get Up & Dance: Fun and Games, Ready, Set, Move!, Jumpin’ and Jammin’ and Bounce & Boogie.
Beyond praise from educational organizations and parenting publications, Greg & Steve have earned critical accolades from Billboard (“superstars in the educational arena,” “the most successful act in the educational field”) and the L.A. Times, which declared twenty years into their career: “In terms of financial success, that puts the laid back, Los Angeles based kids’ rockers near the top of the Raffi-led children’s music field.”
In some ways, Get Up & Dance makes the perfect soundtrack to a constantly kinetic children’s exercise class. Beyond the title track, “Dancing in the Ring” and “Happy Dance,” Greg & Steve’s lyrics also urge everyone to move and groove on tunes like the funky, percussive “Head and Shoulders Baby, 1, 2, 3” which has a small choir of kids singing about different parts of the body and telling everyone to “throw the ball,” “play guitar,” “kick the can,” etc.; and “Do What Simon Says,” which urges them that if they put their hand in the hair, on their hip, etc, they will never be “out.” Likewise, borrowing a bit from the classic spiritual “Dem Bones,” the duo deftly covers all the bones of the body and their connections over a hypnotic drum beat.
Always bright and cheerful no matter the song topic, Get Up & Dance has a few outlier from the bodily activity theme, most notably the lilting, lyrical call and response gem “You Can’t Make a Turtle Come Out” and spirited originals like “Mary’s Little Lamb” and the feisty, locomotive blues rocker “The Little Engine That Could” that offer clever twists on classic stories/concepts all children will immediately recognize.
Listen to Get Up & Dance here: Spotify – Get up & Dance