Playing music for children: it’s not child’s play
A harried, sleep-deprived parent can easily create a momentary distraction by sticking on a playlist of nursery rhymes, or traditional lullabies, or a YouTube channel run by algorithms or robots. There’ll be a brief respite, something fleeting and surface level, but at the same time they’ll get the mental torture of hearing a plinky-plonky, rinky-dink version of The Wheels on the Bus, on repeat, a bazillion times. And they definitely won’t get anything the family can enjoy together.
The Rainbow Collections now bring years of experience to change that one-way placation forever. The brainchild of two songwriters and producers with deep-seated musical CVs, they have created a series of albums that beautifully and imaginatively reimagine what music for children and families can be.
The concept which has generated millions of streams globally come from singer Sophie Barker (Zero 7, Groove Armada) and producer KK (Brian Eno, Björk) who now present their boldest, most colourful group of special created nursery rhymes and lullabies yet.
Dreams is an album that encourages everyone to join in. Frit the soothing lilting tones of classics Mary Had A Little Lamb and Lullaby - German Cradle Song or the ever-calming Sleep My Baby, The Rainbow Collections never falter in their stunning re-tellings of age-old stories.
Claude Debussy’s revered Clair De Lune focuses on Barker’s storytelling capabilities, whilst renditions of Mary Mary Quite Contrary and One, Two, Buckle My Shoe lean on the memorable-rhythms of the original nursery rhymes to showcase KK’s timeless production acumen.
Like its predecessor Sing (2020), Dreams is released through Magic Star, a new Sony Music imprint launched to provide quality music for children and families alike.
“We took all these lovely, beautiful classical melodies by Debussy and Fauré that everybody knows, and we thought ‘wouldn't it be lovely to make songs out of these really beautiful tunes?’” says KK of the album. Beginning with the sonorous Sugar Plum Fairy, KK and Barker lay down a divine foundation for the album, exploring the capacity for reinvention in each layer of the track.
Moonbeams (official video)
With a dazzling past pop pedigree, KK and Barker stress the broad appeal of Dreams has been an integral element to its success. “We're making it in the same way that you make a record for adults.” KK shares. “It has the same standards and the same processes. There's really no difference or compromise, which is perhaps why it's resonating with people.”
Sophie Barker knows better than most the power of song. Blessed with a voice so sweet and uplifting a school music teacher told the adolescent that she could be an opera singer, in her early twenties she was signed to Sony Music as part of a band project.
Then she joined Zero 7 (alongside fellow newcomer Sia), singing and co-writing a brace of the quiet-is-the-new-loud outfit’s most spellbinding songs, including Destiny, In The Waiting Line and Spinning. After further vocal adventures with Grooverider and Groove Armada, the Londoner was approached about putting a solo album together, and thus The Rainbow Collections as born.
When searching for producers on her current project, eventually discovering KK, who had risen to the top of his game through the tuition of Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur). Once united, KK and Barker soon realised they held a similar opinion about the state of the widely available nursery rhymes blasted on repeat to calm restless children. The conclusions were dire; the industry needed a helping hand to re-enliven itself, and KK and Barker came to the same answer almost immediately.
“It was a bit silly at first,” admits KK. “But we did it in a couple of weeks. And most of it, the vocals especially, were one takes. I think sometimes the quicker you do something, the more focused and authentic it is.”
“The first track was Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” remembers Barker. “It was clear straight away that KK and I are very connected. It just worked. We seemed to have the same frequency about how we’d do this.”
This session eventually became Lullaby (2004), a creatively crafted collection of new versions of songs we think we know: Sing a Song of Sixpence, Little Miss Muffet, Rock a Bye Baby and 13 more. They went deep, and they went lovingly: the duo dusted off the four verses of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star that are barely ever sung and brought them to the fore. Now their version of the lullaby was the biggest children’s song of 2019, second only to the social media-powered viral phenomenon that is Baby Shark.
Lullaby became a word-of-mouth hit amongst friends and colleagues, with self-burnt CDs swapped between families crying out for musical entertainment that had meaning and depth as well as enjoyment. Sony Music jumped onboard, and the journey continued through three further collections: Toybox, which was music for playtime, Snowflake, a festive selection, and Sing, ultimate sing-along anthems.
Sugar Plum Fairy (video)
Now Dreams is here to continue the collection. Made up of 17 deeply magical tracks that signpost a duo in their element, the album promises a peaceful ride to the land of Nod with no bumps along the way. The perfect evening accompaniment for little kids and big kids alike.
As Sophie Barker puts it, “I hope people are open to listening to this. Yes, it’s for children, but it’s not background music. It's music to give you a bit of a lift. You can play it any time. It’s for everybody.”
With a project that breathes such life into those who listen to it, it’s impossible not to be drawn to the passion that KK and Barker hold for the album, and join them in song. Abrasive, repetitive nursery rhymes are no more, The Rainbow Collections have reinvented the classics in full technicolour, with Dreams promising a sprawling fun for all ages listen.
Listen free on your favourite DSP here : https://therainbowcollections.lnk.to/Dreams
Or check out our latests videos on our special kids YouTube channel