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Children's Music Tops Pop Charts

For more than 50 years America's Billboard magazine has published a weekly list of the nation's top-selling record albums.

The top spots typically belong to a small cluster of megastars such as Prince, Madonna,, and Shakira.

But earlier this month, for the first time ever, children's albums captured the top three spots on the list.

The music, from the Disney TV movie "High School Musical" has become a smash hit among children between the ages of six and 12.

In April the film's soundtrack entered its second consecutive month on Billboard's list of top ten selling albums, and it has already earned a Platinum Record award for reaching sales of 1 million copies.

Ray McDonald covers the music business for VOA. He explains its appeal. "The kids themselves are very anonymous - they are not prodigies. And so any boy or girl listening can think, 'Hey, this could be me.' "

Much of this new music is aimed at children who are too old for nursery rhymes, but not yet old enough for, say, Mariah Carey.

So record companies, like Kidz Bop, have been offering age-appropriate versions of adult hits.

They've sold seven million copies in less than five years says record company executive Cliff Chenfeld. "The music has to have somewhat of an appeal to the parents now. We are past the day where parents were buying kids music, giving it to them and not even knowing what they're listening to."

Ray McDonald adds, "They are singing safe music, sanitized versions of today's popular hits. Parents do not have to worry about lyrical content."

Parents are the one group still buying music at record stores, not just downloading it. So far this year, over-the-counter album sales have fallen about two percent nationally. But children's music is red hot, with sales are up nearly 60 percent over 2005.

Ralph Covert used to play in a rock band. He still packs the house at club appearance, but his fan base now is now much younger. "I'm not trying to dumb it down, you know. In a sense, I'm trying to smarten it up. And the parents end up enjoying it as much as the kids."

And that is likely to mean that future sales will remain healthy. "There are always kids and they always like music" says Cliff Chenfeld.

All of which is music to the ears of those in the music industry, who are turning out fresh product for children as fast as they can.