My family was a little late to the Yo Gabba Gabba party— a Nick Jr. show that premiered in 2008. We were Sprout channel devotees, but the buzz on Yo Gabba Gabba sparked my curiosity. I’d read that the program featured fun, musical guests, including Weezer, The Ting Tings and The Roots, as well as celebrities like Jack Black and Elijah Wood. My kids love music, so I thought, why not give the show a try?
At first, I felt duped. Clearly the show’s creators were reaching out to a generation of parents like me, who were born in the early 70’s. The show’s host, DJ Lance Rock, wears a furry orange hat, matching track suit and white sneakers. He looks like he could be a member of Deee-Lite (a band that rose to fame during my college years). Come to think of it, a lot of the psychedelic dance scenes in Yo Gabba Gabba seem inspired by Deee-Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” music video.
The show’s main characters can best be described as the Muppets meet the Uglydolls. Brobee, a green hairy monster with awkwardly long arms, is a modern day version of Oscar the Grouch. Muno is a tall, one-eyed red monster that is equal parts Big Bird and said Uglydolls. There’s also a pink creature named Foofa, a robot named Plex and Tootee: a blue cat/dragon hybrid.
Most of the shows scenes feature these characters singing songs with a lesson attached. In between, are segments with preschoolers dancing in hip, Yo Gabba Gabba-themed clothing. The background colors are neon yellows, oranges and greens. Or sometimes, one of the featured dancers will be transformed into an Atari-like video setting, reminding parents of their Pac Man and Asteroid days of yore.
At this point, I’m thinking, okay, I get it. My kids are important, but I am Yo Gabba Gabba’s target audience. The show’s creators are smart enough to know that they have to appeal to preschoolers and their parents (not unlike Sesame Street). Their intentions are obvious, which made me want to forget Yo Gabba Gabba altogether. Come on, I thought, do you really think I’m that easily hooked? Uh huh.
I found myself singing songs like “We Are the Tiny Ugly Germs,” while sweeping up crumbs after dinner, or “Don’t Be Afraid (It’s Okay),” when my daughter wakes in the middle of the night. But the biggest hook came in the form of Yo Gabba Gabba’s Super Music Friends Show. When the Aquabats—dressed in swim costumes reminiscent of Batman and Robin from 1968—sing the lyrics to their song “Pool Party,” it’s hard not to smile: Holy guacamole/we’ve got chips/so come and take a dip/cause my pool rips! And we all loved the Aggrolites singing “Banana,” an infectious reggae song that had us dancing for days.
The Super Music Friends segment won me over. Suddenly, I felt like I was in college all over again. Yo Gabba Gabba was introducing me to new music and I liked it. And that wasn’t all. Other features from the show were grabbing me too. Biz Markie, best known for the 1989 hit, “Just a Friend,” offers kids the fun, Biz’ Beat of the Day. Watching my three and four-year olds try beat boxing is a hilarious experience—it never gets old.
Yo Gabba Gabba’s creators: if you’re reading this, congratulations! You have officially won over this reluctant, seventies-born Mom, and turned her into a fan.