But Barney won't do Vegas

Kevin Cowherd

August 04, 1993|By Kevin Cowherd

The newspaper the other day contained an especially troubling bulletin for all you parents of preschoolers: Barney the dinosaur is releasing an album of his greatest hits.

Details are sketchy about exactly which of Barney's favorite toe-tappers will be on the album. But you can bet that the exquisitely gooey "I Love You, You Love Me" will make the cut, seeing as how it's become like "Stairway to Heaven" for the 5-and-under set.

You can also count on hearing "Frosting the Cake," which, with its dull, hypnotic melody, would have been a perfect choice when the loudspeakers clicked on at Jonestown and people lined up in front of the vats of poisoned Kool-Aid.

Look, if this sounds like another cheap-shot episode of Barney-bashing, forget it. Hey, I love Barney. Sure, he's got a goofy voice that sounds like Don Knotts with a headful of paint fumes, but that's part of his charm.

Besides, I don't think little kids would go for a 6-foot purple dinosaur who sounds like Ted Koppel grilling the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.

Actually, the reason I love Barney is that my 2-year-old loves Barney.

When Barney's not on, the kid goes spinning around the house like a top, throwing his juice to the floor and hurling his toys through the picture window and karate-chopping his brothers and sisters.

At times like this, I envision him sitting in a dank cell watching reruns of "Who's the Boss?" on a battered black and white TV before heading off to his 10-cents-an-hour job in the prison laundry.

But when Barney is on, he sits there quietly in front of the TV and seems engaged, and I think: Geez, maybe he won't be firing up Marlboros and cracking Schlitz tall boys and hot-wiring cars by the time he's 8.

Anyway, Barney's album is due in stores Aug. 31 and already it's getting hyped, with one record publicist telling the New York Times: "Barney is as big as Elvis or the Beatles to these kids."

Boy, there's a frightening analogy -- Barney on a par, adoration-wise, with The King!

Does this mean we can expect a Barney postage stamp in 20 years? And will it come after an agonizing national debate over whether we want the trim, clear-eyed Barney of the '90s or the Barney who got fat and sloppy on a steady diet of Jack Daniel's and pepperoni pizzas?

Taking this whole terrifying scenario a step further, will there eventually be 55-year-old grandmothers decked out in tight sweaters and leopard-skin stretch pants who venerate Barney long after he's gone -- even to the point of having silk-screen paintings of him in the hallways of their modest brick ranchers?

1l And if that happens, will a cottage industry of Barney impersonators spring up, desperate men and women donning fraying, pear-shaped purple dinosaur outfits for appearances at shopping mall openings, car dealership promos, etc.?

God in heaven . . . well, we can't worry about that now. The important thing is: The album is coming. And soon preschoolers all over the country will be whipped into the obligatory buying frenzy -- although not, it seems, by Barney himself.

In fact, the same record publicist quoted above also told the Times that Barney "doesn't do interviews. He's turned down Leno six times."

The implication is clear: Barney is just too busy. Even as we speak, Barney could be in the studio with his infant sidekick Baby Bop, digitally mixing the tracks for . . . look, if you think Barney's voice is annoying, you gotta hear Baby Bop.

Imagine Pebbles Flintstone jabbering at Wilma while high on Robitussin. I'm telling you, Baby Bop makes Barney sound like Pavarotti.

And, while I admire the earnestness of Tina and Min and Sean and all the other smiley-faced members of Barney's little cult, their singing voices leave something to be desired as well.

The point is, I see Barney's album causing some serious emotional problems for you moms and dads.

Your kid will pester and badger you for the tape and then play it constantly, even -- this is where it gets really scary -- in the car.

Let's face it, after a chorus or two of "The Clean-up Song" or "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," any motorist would seriously consider stomping on the accelerator and ramming the car into the nearest bridge abutment.

Imagine being stuck in a 10-mile backup and white-knuckling the steering wheel as Barney warbles, "Hey, Hey, Our Friends Are Here!" -- how could anyone be expected to keep it together in that situation?

The whole business could get real ugly.

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