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Summer is the time for getting into the car and driving around. It's also a time for music. Cruising along the motorways of Britain at speeds approaching 35mph for most of August has given me the chance to catch up on the sort of music the young people of today are listening to. After just a few weeks I feel I've become something of an expert, and here I present my own guide to the top sounds of the summer of '99:

Down In The Jungle. In my experience, the young people of today have an enormous appetite for animal songs, which this collection seeks to sate once and for all. Classics such as "The Bear Went Over The Mountain", "Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?" and the mysteriously popular "Never Smile At A Crocodile" are interspersed with poems about - you guessed it - animals, all performed with brio by an ensemble of out-of-work actors and actresses. Who could want to listen to Test Match Special with this masterpiece sitting in the glove box?

Nellie The Elephant. This tape bears the enigmatic subtitle "See Inlay Card For Details", which belies the tame selection of children's favourites. The interpretations are by the usual hard-up theatre types, but many songs are given a twist by musical direction which can only be described as dangerous. The woman who sings "Daddy's Takin' Us To The Zoo Tomorrow" has been encouraged to use an American accent which veers into hill-billy territory, and the song includes a hitherto unknown final verse, about "Ridin' in the car gettin' sleep-sleep-sleepy", which sticks out like a mock Tudor extension on a Grade II listed Victorian terrace. This is edgy stuff, not afraid to swing from sickly sweet to extra-grating without warning - and young people seem to like it.

Songs From Around The World. It may sound like a humourless exercise in political correctness, but this collection of tunes is a big hit with both the young and the very young. There is little attempt to recreate the ethnic vitality of the music, and all the lyrics are in good old English, but this does serve to lend a structure to what could otherwise be a rag- bag of foreign nonsense.

In addition, the starkly neutral interpretations allow one to regard some familiar material in a fresh light, including classics such as "La Cucaracha", "My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean" and "Polly Wolly Doodle". In my opinion, you haven't really understood "Yellow Bird" until you've heard it sung by a chorus of schoolchildren from the Midlands.

Humpty Dumpty and Other Nursery Rhymes. The idea of setting nursery rhymes to music is not a new one, but this updated, synth-laden sampling breathes new life into even the most hackneyed of traditional English doggerel.

The pace can be sluggish, and the orchestration over-reliant on synthesised harp, but you have to like a tape that uses spooky minor-chord variations to explore the dark side of "Ding Dong Dell".

Dance With The Teletubbies. In my experience, the young people of today love the Teletubbies more than any other pop combo, so you can imagine the disappointment when their decision to pull the tape out of its cassette in order to decorate the back seat in cascades of curly brown ribbon rendered this favourite unplayable. That's the younger generation for you.

Bible Action Songs. You don't have to be religious to enjoy this gentle, well-meaning compilation of God-bothering ditties. Both Old and New Testaments are represented, with songs that range from Salvation Army issue to happy-clappy modern. Includes the all-time go- to-meetin' favourite "Jesus Bits Of Shine". Of course, the real title is "Jesus Bids Us Shine", but try telling that to the young.

Cool Kids and Groovy Grown-Ups. A bold attempt to find a Third Way of family driving music, chiefly upbeat American novelty standards of the 1950s and 1960s. This works well, provided your children like "Lollipop" and "The Locomotion" and you're willing to pretend that there is nothing you'd rather be listening to than "Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop" by Little Anthony and the Imperials. In the end it's neither "cool" nor "groovy", but a hideous, if palliative, compromise. A bit like life itself, in my experience.

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