Review of “What Kind of Cat Are You?!” by Billy Jonas: Another New Family Favorite


Since the birth of our daughter, James and I have been on a search for music for her that is both appropriate for kids and enjoyable for parents. While listening to my They Might Be Giants channel on Pandora a few weeks ago, a song called “What Kind Of Cat Are You?!” by Billy Jonas came on. As soon as I heard the first few lines of the song, I knew that I had to hear more from this artist. In light of the post How to Talk to a Cat: An Espentorial, can you guess why the song immediately caught my interest? Here are a few of my favorite lines to help you out:

What kind of cat is a great big disaster? CATASTROPHE!
What kind of cat is an even bigger disaster? CATACLYSM!
What kind of cat comes in the mail from Sears? CATALOGUE!
What kind of cat is a whole bunch of cows? CATTLE!

As my husband will agree, I have a slightly unhealthy love of cat puns and wordplay. If any of the other songs on What Kind of Cat Are You?! (the album that contains the track “What Kind of Cat Are You?!), then I knew that I would immediately fall in love with the CD. I was not disappointed!

What Kind of Cat Are You?! features thirteen tracks:

  1. What Kind of Cat Are You?!What Kind of Cat Are You?!
  2. Tongo!
  3. Some Houses
  4. Old St. Helen
  5. Alien in My Lungs
  6. Bear to the Left
  7. Pharaoh Pharaoh
  8. Watermelon
  9. Nine-foot Dragon & a Four-Foot Boy
  10. Nocturnal
  11. I Spy
  12. Lean on Me
  13. Make a Joyful Noise

What Kind of Cat are You?! has received multiple awards including a First Place/Gold from the American Federation of Independent Musicians (AFIM) and a Parent’s Choice Gold.

My absolute favorite song on What Kind of Cat Are You?!  is obviously the title track, “What Kind of Cat Are You?!” I also really like “Bear to the Left,” which is another song that encourages word play. The lyrics in this song demonstrate the way in which the same word in English can be a noun or a verb:

You gotta BEAR to the left and SNAKE to the right
WEASEL on down and DUCK outta sight
HORSE around, FLOUNDER about
WORM your way in and BUG OUT!

As a linguistic, I really appreciate the cleverness of “Bear to the Left.” The melody is also extremely catchy. I already have found myself absentmindedly singing “Bear to the left and snake to the right…” to myself and my daughter.

One of the most interesting facts about Billy Jonas is that he is a performer who has made innovative use of found objects in his music. His music is percussion-based and makes use of common objects such as buckets, broom handles, bottles, and key chains in addition to traditional instruments. The song “Some Houses” is a great example of his use of everyday things as musical instruments. The song also encourages listeners to join in and make music with their own found objects.

According to the back of the CD, What Kind of Cat Are You?!  is funky folk music for the whole family. I love folk music, and a track like “Lean on Me” is a great example of this funky style of folk. However, I also love the Billy includes some other flavors of music on this CD. Both “Tongo!” and “Some Houses” include some Afro-Caribbean influence. I want to expose my daughter to as many forms of music as possible, so I love the various sounds on this album.

Finally, I love all the different words that Billy uses in his songs. Unlike some music for children that uses very simple vocabulary, What Kind of Cat Are You?! includes all sorts of fun words such as catalytic converter, petrochemicals, and photosynthesize. Kids need to be exposed to many different kinds of words, both little and big. Again as a linguistic, I really appreciate the wide range of vocabulary words that Billy exposes my daughter to in this album. The concepts in some of the songs are also educational but fun. For example, in “Watermelon,” the lyrics talk about watermelons growing from seeds but include fun lyrics that kids will find hilarious such as “You better spit the seeds out, sisters and brothers; They’re coming out one end or the other!”

Final Verdict: What Kind of Cat Are You?! by Billy Jonas is an awesome album for the entire family. The songs are definitely geared towards children, but adults will love the lyrics and tunes too. I highly recommend that any parent with younger children buy a copy of this CD, which is available online through CD Baby. You can also find Billy online on his website as well as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

For your chance to win a copy of What Kind of Cat Are You?!, stayed tuned to the current giveaways from The Parenting Patch over the next couple of weeks. For four weeks, I will be giving away one copy of the album each week.

Image Credits

What Kind of Cat Are You?!: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/billyjonas5

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