The formula was simple: marry bubblegum and soul to the absolute sincerity of an enthusiastic child, cross your fingers and pray for airplay. But while the youthful sums of that formula may have grown up and walked away from their illusions of stardom, their permanent records remain.
By 1973, Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Jackie were as hip as kids could get – household names, with lunchboxes, coloring books, a Saturday morning cartoon, and an Alpha-Bits cereal commercial pushing the J5 brand onto any kid with television reception. Their impressive run of four consecutive #1 singles playing on both pop and R&B stations cemented their appeal to both whites and blacks, prompting MGM to launch the Osmonds as the safer (read: white) alternative.
And parents? Well Michael had that wrapped up with his impossible-not-to-love mini-James Brown thing. Even their song selection straddled both sides, with "Zip A Dee Do Dah" and "ABC" for kids, and contemporary standards "Standing In The Shadows Of Love" and "My Cherie Amour" for the older crowd. This extreme marketing and merchandising juggernaut created the kid soul explosion.
A decade removed from Numero's acclaimed Home Schooled compilation comes a fresh batch of talent show titans. With enterprising parents, neighbors, and teachers turning play dates into recording dates, groups like Magical Connection, Little Man and the Inquires, and Five Ounces of Soul emulated the Jacksons, who'd made grade-school stardom appear easy as ABC. Afterschool Special: The 123s Of Kid Soul contains 19 tiny tunes ranging from bilingual D.A.R.E. anthem, to James Brown bio, to young love and life beyond the playground.