Playlist: Rockabye Baby is all your faves and your little one’s too

Rockabye Baby has more than 50 releases.
Rockabye Baby has released more than 50 lullaby tributes to contemporary musicians, including AC/DC, Kanye West, the Rolling Stones and Weezer. The latest, a Nickelback tribute, is out today.

Lisa Roth often finds herself giving unlikely advice to musicians who are covering songs by the likes of Black Sabbath, Guns N’ Roses, Jay Z and Kanye West.

“A lot of the times it’s, ‘I want you to produce this like there’s a baby sitting in your lap while you’re doing it,’” she says.

As vice president and creative director of the CMH Label Group, Roth oversees a branch of the label that produces the Rockabye Baby series, in which musicians have taken the aforementioned artists and created lullaby renditions of their best-known work. Roth created the series with co-worker Valerie Aiello in 2006, and she has since overseen more than 50 releases. Today sees the release of a Nickelback compilation.

“When we developed this idea, no one here had kids,” says Roth. “I am not sure we would have thought about lullaby versions of Tool if we did have kids.”

For the uninitiated, Rockabye Baby releases are like a private game of “Name That Tune” that parents can play while their little ones benefit from soothing arrangements of classic tunes. Where a song like the Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench” in its original incarnation is characterized by its hard guitars crunching up against bombastic drums and Dave Grohl’s rock ‘n’ roll screams, the Rockabye Baby version is an instrumental playground, led by harmonizing glockenspiels and filled out by little bird chirps, rattles and cute little honks.

CMH Label Group releases about eight compilations per year, working with a small handful of producers, and Roth says the back-and-forth with a producer for each release could take as long as six months.

“There’s a certain amount of training that we have to go through with these people because it’s kind of nuanced: It’s not an easy thing to do. I think people have preconceived notions when it comes to a lullaby, as if you should just play quieter and slower, which is not the case at all,” she says. “First of all, we are a record label, not a children’s company. The music, whether the consumer notices it or not, means a great deal to us.”

Yes, the consumer in question is a baby, one who’s unknowingly being introduced to the greatest pop music of the past few decades (yes, there are people who would put Nickelback into that category). But the consumer is also the parent who can hear songs he or she already loves without having to suffer through nonsense by purple dinosaurs or men in brightly colored turtlenecks.

“I get to spend chunks of my day doing this thing,” says Roth, “and listening to music and deconstructing these songs and picking the instruments, and it’s like painting a little picture, and trying to do it with utmost deference and respect to the artists so they don’t get annoyed.”

And the cradle will rock…
Lisa Roth comes from a very musical family. Her brother is a guy who goes by the name of David Lee Roth, from a little band called Van Halen. Did her big brother ever sing her lullabies while growing up?

RELATED: View a video of the two Roth siblings announcing the Van Halen version of Rockabye Baby

“Well, he never sang to me, but he was always singing,” she says. “And if he wasn’t singing, he was doing air guitar. … David was always — oh my God — I thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. He always had music on like, Bob Dylan, Zeppelin, all that good stuff.”

More from CMH: Not Pickin’ one over another
The CMH Label Group doesn’t just release popular music as filtered through lullaby versions. They also release popular music as interpreted in bluegrass style (the Pickin’ On series) and through classical style (the Vitamin String Quartet). So of all of these formats, including the original versions
of songs, which works the best?

“I don’t know,” says Roth. “How can you have a conclusion like that about something that is as creative as music?”

Check out some of our favorite baby-approved Rockabye selections…


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Breaking: Local

Judge rules Tsarnaev can view victim autopsy photos

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can view the autopsy photographs of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Local

Police warn of attempted assault on woman near…

Police in Cambridge issued an alert after a woman said she was the victim of an attempted sexual assault after leaving Porter Square early Wednesday.…

Local

Kevin Kayvon Edson: Finish line hoax suspect sent…

The man who allegedly left a backpack near the finish line on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings was due in court on Wednesday.

Local

Wahlbergs expanding Wahlburgers fast food joint across North…

Wahlburgers, a fast casual burger restaurant founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg and subject of a new A&E Network’s original series, “Wahlburgers”, announced expansion plans in North America,…

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

THEATER The Wholehearted Thursday through April 27 Paramount Center 559 Washington St., Boston $25-$49, 617-824-8400 www.artsemerson.org This conceptually rich show from Stein | Holum Projects,…

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Bruins 2014 playoffs preview: Vegas odds say Stanley…

Bruins 2014 playoffs preview: Vegas odds say Stanley Cup will return to Boston

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

MLB

Injury bug tearing holes in Red Sox

Red Sox fans will recall that last year the bullpen was decimated by injuries. From Franklin Morales to Andrew Miller, from Craig Breslow to Andrew…

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.

Wellbeing

Cognitive skills begin to drop at age 24

But the news isn't all that bad.

Career

How to get a job at a startup:…

We talked to Tarek Pertew, one of the co-founders behind Uncubed, about how to get your dream job at a startup.

Parenting

The 'smartest' summer camps across the country

See a list of summer camps across the country that emphasis learning, while still being fun.