Teaching children the joy of sox … using Bhangra

This is from a Canadian-American TV show called The Backyardigans:

The show is an animated musical-adventure series aimed at children between the ages of 2 and 5.[4] In each episode, the show’s five friends–Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, Tasha, and Austin–rely on their vivid imaginations to transform their backyard into completely different worlds, in which they go through many sorts of stories and adventures…The episodes focus on music and dancing as much as they do on the stories, with each one featuring a different music genre [Link]

The Bhangra episode had three other songs (Socks, Wonderful Socks, That’s My Job, That’s My Job, and Gotta Get the Pencil) but this is the best one.

It doesn’t really make much sense to me, but then I don’t think that shows intended to amuse kids under five should really make sense to adults. Either you like it or you don’t, but trying to understand it … begs the point.

39 thoughts on “Teaching children the joy of sox … using Bhangra

  1. Hey, my 3.5 year old loves the backyadigans, but I didn’t know it was a Canadian show, since it comes on Nick Jr. Even my 8year old watches it sometimes for old times sake. Will look out for the bhangra episode.

  2. There is another underwater episode of the Backyardigans that has a bollywood musical theme. The friends imagine themselves to be swimming in the ocean and encounter a garden with mermaids. I remember watching that show with my three year old and two year old wishing that I had pursued a career in music. Please do watch it if you can.

  3. I find the Canadian fixation on bhangra, at the expense of our classical traditions, vaguely demeaning. But, I’m not Canadian, so perhaps I’m misreading it.

  4. Re: #4–ugghh–first Bhangra, then Bollywood? Why do the Backyardigans hate India? What’s next, puppets eating “curry”?

  5. I find the Indian fixation on bhhhangra, at the expense of the beauty of a Punjabi folk form, vaguely demeaning.

  6. My first reaction was: but lots of places in India have no socks! My second reaction: there is no one who is going to be more adamant after a little kid to put on socks than a desi mom or grandma during a North American winter, especially, I bet, in Canada.

    I thought the choreography was pretty good, considering their body types are somewhat short on the limb. The background is so dark and dreary though!

  7. My 2.5year LOVES the Backyardigans. I am Punjabi and I love this episode. When she viewed it on the computer with me, she was so excited to see her favourite characters dancing to bhangra, she scooted off the chair and starting following their dance moves. Maybe I am not authentic enough but anything that ties my culture to the world at large is a positive step for my daughter. When she is older, I will definitely want to teach her the nuances but for now, I don’t think it is demeaning. Incidentally, this is not the first Indian themed episode they have done. Kudos to the producers. Thanks!

  8. This absolutely made my morning! At the end of the day, this song/video doesn’t show any mean disrespect. It’s simply a song for little children, and I’m always thrilled to see Indian culture (albeit not always in its purest form) being enjoyed in the main stream. The Nickelodeon I grew up had nothing Indian about it. I went to an elementary and middle school of all non-browns. And yet my Sundays at the temple were all brown and full of Gujarati + Hindi, Indian culture, food, and dance. It was a jarring contrast at times, and my school friends couldn’t even fathom what exactly I was and what I did/how I lived aside from exotic stereotypical stuff which I’m sure you can imagine without examples.

    OK that is all. That was a fun song, just might listen to it again now.

  9. My dad. Chi Chi Chi. With shorts, no less.

    Tell me they’re not business socks. . .

  10. As painful as it is to sometimes watch with a 3 and a 5 year old, the backyardigans are a great alternative to the repetitive nature of the Wiggles and the mindless Mickey’s playhouse. They generally have a different “theme” for their music with each show. The bollywood one (Into the Deep) came out back in 2007 and is decent, but this punjabi one is far more so.

  11. Is it sad that this song will be in my head for the next day? Way too catchy. And adorable.

  12. I can’t believe they would be so irresponsible as to encourage children to tramp about machine coggery and sprockets in these dangerous modern times.

  13. Any show that has a purple polka dotted character named Uniqua is the BEST show ever!

  14. Who wears socks with chappals? That’s just madness!

    During my undergrad, back in desh it was fashion for some time. Guys wearing white socks with Sandals(the one with belt) was not uncommon. My worst nightmare(Seen it twice): Desi dude wearing white socks pulled almost till knees + sandals + Collar T shirt (in-shirt) + Shorts + Formal black belt

  15. I watched these vids over and over and over when I first saw them. I thought it was wild!

    One of my best friends has nieces and a nephew that watch the show regularly and from what I understand, the show uses each episode of the show to expose children to a wide variety of cultural music. It applies all kinds of cultural music and applies them to the themes/storylines, and ends up exposing children to different cultures without exposing them to cultural stereotypes. I think it’s cool. And at least once a week one of my friends im’s/emails/texts saying, “I am in trouble – I need your help…. I gotta get the pencil to save the factory.”

  16. My worst nightmare(Seen it twice): Desi dude wearing white socks pulled almost till knees + sandals + Collar T shirt (in-shirt) + Shorts + Formal black belt

    and the problem with it is what exactly?

    i cringe way more at the pretend angst of the fashion police. actually not cringe, just utterly puzzled. well, you dont like the combination. ok, fine. but it isn’t you who is wearing it, is it? so why the angst?

  17. And I cringe at people who have absolutely no idea anymore what is and isn’t appropriate to wear outside the house. Wearing cut-offs to court, pyjamas to the supermarket, acid-washed denim to weddings…Of course, this phenomenon is peculiarly USian in some ways. Not that my countrymen are fantastic dressers, but going by the stories I’ve read I’d say us Old-Worlders have some semblance of formality, still.

    Knowing how to dress (this has nothing to do with having money, by the way, you don’t need money to dress well) and what to wear when and where is a mark of good breeding. It is equally bad form for an Indian man to wear knee-high white socks with sandals, as it is for Liz Hurley to show up in a sari with no blouse or bra. Likely such a person lacks awareness of social cues and/or has no respect for people around them.

  18. “…. course, this phenomenon is peculiarly USian in some ways. Not that my countrymen are fantastic dressers, but going by the stories I’ve read I’d say us Old-Worlders have some semblance of formality, still.”

    British tourists to the U.S./Caribbean are amongst the worst dressed, especially at places like Disney World etc. It’s one big sea of football shirts, sweatpants, women’s thongs peeking out from their too low pants, or bikini tops with no cover even as they enter shops. This formality seems to desert them while on holiday in other countries.While most shops need tourists and don’t say anything, some shops do have dress codes which are promptly ignored by tourists. Going to a British Airways departure lounge gives one an idea of how well-dressed/not well-dressed people are. A few are well-dressed, most are not, and some are “well-dressed” in that frumpy royal family manner, depending on what you think well-dressed is. Also, the pyjamas in the supermarket thing, didn’t a British supermarket have to actually institute a ban on that because people were shopping in their slippers and robes? You can still find European men wearing socks (not knee highs but usually mid-calf) with sandals and shorts, especially older European/English men, in the tropics. The odd younger European still dresses like that in the warmer climates. And just check out the men’s fashion shows – you’ll sometimes find socks and sandals with shorts and belts or socks and sandals with linen pants. So what’s fashionable and what’s not anymore?

  19. Of course, I think in general the whole world is becoming much more slovenly, generic and boring where apparel is concerned. Or at least it was. Maybe the tide is turning a bit. I was probably better dressed as a child.

  20. Of course, I think in general the whole world is becoming much more slovenly, generic and boring where apparel is concerned. Or at least it was. Maybe the tide is turning a bit. I was probably better dressed as a child.

    There was an article in the New Yorker (I think. Maybe it was Slate?) a while ago about how the millenial generation is bringing back the “not a slob” look. The gist of it was that prior generations believed that dressing casually all the time was an indication that they had made it and didn’t need to care how they dressed to impress anyone else. Of course when everyone does this it just looks slobby so the backlash has increasingly been to fop it up. I, for one, am not opposed. It never hurts to introduce a modicum of taste and discernment.

  21. Knowing how to dress (this has nothing to do with having money, by the way, you don’t need money to dress well) and what to wear when and where is a mark of good breeding.

    Nothing to do with money? Having properly fitting, clean clothes that would be considering “dressing well” has A LOT to do with money.

    Clothes are all about showing who has (= good breeding?) and who has NOT. In the U.S. I think this has changed because (except the extremely rich and famous) because middle and upper-middle class people don’t feel insecure in their position and they have nothing to “prove” hence they are not as driven to show off their position with clothing. But it is still very prevalent amongst the rich and famous, and very obvious amongst school children (having the right clothes= being cool). Yet these trends have moved towards specific styles rather than dressing up in a fancy way (market driven styles basically).

    From what I have heard, Sweden is the opposite.. people feel embarrassed if they look ‘too rich’ because there is an even greater emphasis on equality, so people tend to dress down.

    Sure, a middle-class guy in India will show up to work in a button down shirt and trousers, but these kinds of clothes will certainly mark him as MIDDLE CLASS. While Middle Class Indians may put on their best clothes to go to the movies, upper class Indians will strive to dress in more “western popular styles”. (more often jeans and t-shirts and the like). So the upper class is trying to “prove” themselves by dressing western, and the middle class is trying to “prove” themselves by dressing in their nicest outfits. Yet the upper class is purchasing clothes that would be much more difficult for a middle class person to get (i.e. Levi Jeans, Nike shoes, etc).

    So please, don’t boil this whole argument down to “the good old days, when people dressed nicely”. It always was, and always has been about putting people in a pecking order.

  22. But it is still very prevalent amongst the rich and famous, and very obvious amongst school children (having the right clothes= being cool). Yet these trends have moved towards specific styles rather than dressing up in a fancy way (market driven styles basically).

    That’s just because teenagers are stupid. It really doesn’t take that much money to dress well. If you have any kind of stable income at all there is no excuse.

    Yea, if you’re too lazy to put together a look you’ll end up spending gobs of money buying name brand stuff. But you could just as easily find similar looks at a thrift store.

  23. That’s just because teenagers are stupid. It really doesn’t take that much money to dress well. If you have any kind of stable income at all there is no excuse. Yea, if you’re too lazy to put together a look you’ll end up spending gobs of money buying name brand stuff. But you could just as easily find similar looks at a thrift store.

    Wow, yoga fire, you feel very strongly about it! ‘No excuse’, eh?

    One question– what exactly do you mean by “dress well”? If you are talking about American “style” (quotes denoting my own viewpoint ;) ) then half of the point is buying the expensive brand name crap, er, I mean clothes.

    But regardless of what you mean, it will always be difficult for some people to “dress well” in the U.S. which is anyone who doesn’t fit into the normally available sizes in the U.S. (i.e. too thin, too short, too tall, too large). Since we don’t have easy and inexpensive tailors like India (oh how I miss them) then unaverage people hard a very hard time finding clothes. (I know this since while I am not freakishly tall, I have quite long legs– it is hard to find pants and skirts which are long enough, and when I do find them, they are usually far more expensive then normal ones, or they have a limited supply of only boring and blah trousers, using the non-basic styles on come in “regular length”)

  24. 27 · Yoga Fire on June 15, 2010 10:08 AM said:

    It never hurts to introduce a modicum of taste and discernment.

    Hear hear. Or HEARD THAT, rather. I think ZZ Top said it best, and I’m glad I decided to take their advice seriously at a young age. It’s true. Even the crustiest, punkest, attitudenest bad ass chicks dig a well-dressed man. (This is my jam when I’m getting dressed to go out, though.)

    I don’t want to put words (or anything else…except maybe a laddoo) in Yoga Fire’s mouth, but I think s/he is advocating for people to discover and adopt their own individual, personal style. Fashion can be bought, style cannot.

    I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes (maybe a nice hat and a Swatch and some new kicks once a year), but I like to think I’m stylish and I catch hella compliments all the time. Most of my gear comes from thrift stores–and not just because I’m cheap, but “my” style is kind of stuck in the 1970s. I like big wide-ass collars on my shirts. I also like three-button suits (from my rude boy ska show days). I realize that there are designers making new clothes in those styles, but I can’t afford them. And I figure that if an article of clothing has survived 20 or 30 years already, it’s much likelier built to last than today’s disposable sweat-shop gear. Some of my favorite shirts were bought for $5, 10 years ago. I mend them when they need it and the mending isn’t beyond my limited skills. I have taught class wearing slightly torn blazers (when those tears are in not-obvious places.)

    1970s JC Penney duds are the flyest!

    I live in the south now. I think it’s disgusting that people routinely go out in sweatpants and puffy-paint unicorn shirts bearing spaghetti stains. I am personally offended by that. You might call me classist, but I beg to differ. I think you owe the public–the people who are forced to look at you–at least some effort to clean up in public.

  25. One question– what exactly do you mean by “dress well”? If you are talking about American “style” (quotes denoting my own viewpoint ;) ) then half of the point is buying the expensive brand name crap, er, I mean clothes.

    Oh lord no. I said “taste and discernment.” Superficiality and ostentatious displays of wealth that serve no purpose but to scream “LOOK HOW MUCH FUCKING MONEY I HAVE!” as loudly as possible are the exact opposite of that. That’s like school on a Sunday: no class.

    I just mean putting yourself together. The fact that any article you read offering advice for a job interview says step 1 is to make sure you shave and take a shower that morning is very disconcerting. All I want is for people to leave the house with the expectation that people are going to see them. So put on some real clothes, don’t wander around in sweats or pajamas unless you happen to be gardening or working out. Just because you are a stranger on the sidewalk doesn’t mean I don’t owe you the respect of looking presentable. Dirt poor workmen during the Great Depression were

  26. This would sound SO great autotuned and with 808s accompanying the tablas. Somebody call Kanye.

    I was actually thinking DJ Rekha needs to remix this track ASAP. Imagine the music video…..

  27. Yoga Fire – exactly. My mother, btw, still insists on wearing a sari when travelling by plane. I think the sweatpants-donning middle classes could certainly learn a thing or two from that.

    And as for plus size – well, learn to sew! It is not that hard. In the olden days people worked much harder than they did now, but they still managed to go outside looking presentable.

  28. Love this song (and the others) – I’ve been humming it all morning. My nieces and nephews are huge fans, and the show doesn’t really make sense, but we all need socks, right?

    Ditto on autotuning the track with 808s accompanying the tablas :)

  29. Loved this little clip! My one year old loves it too he is fascinated with the Backyardigans and loves all kinds of music. He was bouncing on his bottom moving his body to the song! I agree with the posts that say any tie of my amazing Indian culture to the Western culture benefits all when it’s done appropriately. I will replay it again for my son.

  30. Hi,

    Glad to be here. Nice video really stating the children to know about the joy of sox. Wonderful title to look through….

  31. Hi,

    Glad to be here. Nice video really stating the children to know about the joy of sox. Wonderful title to look through….