By Emma Simonoff

Almost 100 percent of the music I listened to as a kid was by The Beatles or from a musical. My life changed when my mom started buying me Kidz Bop CDs. With Kidz Bop, I could hear the hits sung by kids like me, and it felt amazing. So, I decided to revisit and rank the albums that shaped my music taste.

“Kidz Bop 9”

This one is hard to judge — it has some songs I love today, but I don’t think kids have enough experience to appreciate them. “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” for example, has a deep melancholy no child can or should understand. “Beverly Hills” probably teaches destructive ideas about wealth and fame. Plus, there’s something sad about hearing a group of kids singing that they want to be in “Beverly Hills, woo,” and knowing they’re probably all accountants now. It also has Nickleback’s infamous “Photograph,” which I honestly don’t hate.

For me, the stand-out hits are “Cool” by Gwen Stefani and “These Words” by Natasha Bedingfield, which even today are two of my favorite songs. Even the singer’s weird Gwen Stefani impression can’t ruin “Cool” for me.

“Kidz Bop 10”

Once again, we have a few unforgettable hits in a sea of 2006 mediocrity. “SOS” by Rihanna is an excellent song and teaches kids how to spell. “Unwritten” — another Natasha Bedingfield classic — is probably the tune most emblematic of the early 2000s, even with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse-esque lyrics replacing the inappropriate content. “Pump It” by the The Black Eyed Peas rules.

Other than these picks, the remainder of the album are songs I’ve never heard in my life and don’t care to start now. Although Madonna’s “Hung Up,” which I listened to four times in a row last Friday, redeems it all.

“Kidz Bop 3”

Kidz Bop comes in hot with “my friend the communist,” the opening line of “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow. What’s perplexing about Kidz Bop is the lyrics they choose to keep and to censor. This is a conundrum because “communist” isn’t a swear word, but would kids understand it? Not necessarily. Maybe they would in 2021, but in 2003, I don’t think so.

“Kidz Bop 3” has major hits, including “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie, “Girlfriend” by *NSYNC and “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton. Aside from these, this album mostly misses.

“Kidz Bop 5”

Kidz Bop was not the best judge of which songs would endure the test of time. Once again, there are some big ones: “Crazy in Love” will definitely last forever, as well as “Me Against the Music,” “So Yesterday” and “Hey Ya!” 

There are some sleeper hits I forgot about that immediately blasted me to the past, like “Cinderella” from The Cheetah Girls. The rest of the songs made me think, “why is this here?” For example, “Headstrong” by Trapt — I can’t imagine children begging to hear the Kidz Bop version of an alt-metal song, but they added it anyway.

“Kidz Bop 11”

Judging by how many of these songs I still know the words to, this was my favorite Kidz Bop CD at the time, and it’s still really good. It has a good mix of bangers and ballads, from “Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé to “My Love” by Justin Timberlake and “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol.

There are some covers of songs I had never heard before, including “What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts and “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder. I don’t know what demographic of kids those songs were aimed toward, but I’m glad Kidz Bop introduced me to them.

“Kidz Bop 7”

Now, this is an amazing album. We’ve got “Pieces of Me” by Ashlee Simpson, “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson, “Let’s Get it Started” by The Black Eyed Peas. These are all great songs I still listen to at least a few times a week.

There are also songs by Avril Lavigne, Maroon 5, JoJo and Jesse McCartney. “Float On” is huge. And “1985” is one of the greatest songs of all time. This is an incredible curation of the 2005 pop landscape.