A New Alphabet Song

Nov 3, 2019
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This is probably the very first song you ever learned.

ELI YOUNG: (Singing) A, B, C, D, E, F, G.

CHARLI SUCGANG: (Singing) H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P.

LOGAN NGUYEN: (Singing) Q, R, S, T, U V.

RAMONA HOPKINS: (Singing) W, X, Y and Z.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Eli Young, Charli Sucgang, Logan Nguyen, and Ramona Hopkins - so cute there - singing the ABC song. It's so elegant in its simplicity, don't you think? Well, last week, the Internet shook when a video with clay letters and a different version - gasp - of this song went viral.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALPHABET SONG")

MATT: (Singing) I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: One more time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALPHABET SONG")

MATT: (Singing) L, M, N, O, P...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: People did not appreciate what happened with LMNOP. They called this version, quote, "unnecessary" and "a sacrilege."

Noah Garfinkel of Los Angeles is the man who posted that video on Twitter.

NOAH GARFINKEL: I called it life-ruining, and I now feel bad about that based on the reactions people had.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And they lashed out at Garfinkel, thinking he'd made the video. They called him bad names, and one person messaged...

GARFINKEL: Who died and made you king of the "Alphabet Song," question mark, question mark, lowercase K, bye.

MATT: It wasn't my intention to replace the original ABC song we all know and love.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Matt. He's actually the man who's responsible for that other version, which he created seven years ago. He makes educational videos based on research for his YouTube channel called "Dream English Kids." Matt doesn't want us to actually use his last name because he's been getting a lot of hate mail for that LMNOP change-up. Yes, we're having to grant him anonymity.

MATT: I just wanted to make a version that, when showing the letters and singing the song to the students, each letter would have equal visual time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Matt says by slowing down L, M, N, O, P, it's easier for non-English speakers and children with special needs or learning differences to learn the alphabet.

MATT: I recently received an email from a mother of a child with autism who said her son listened to the song and, for the first time, recognized that the letters were separate.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Now, to be fair, Matt is not the only person to take liberties with the ABC song, as anyone who's ever watched "Sesame Street" knows.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALPHABET SONG")

THE MUPPETS: (Singing) A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H...

PATTI LABELLE: Sing.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Patti LaBelle singing with the Muppets.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALPHABET SONG")

THE MUPPETS: (Singing) I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And ABC purists take comfort in this - those notes may change, but the letters do not.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALPHABET SONG")

LABELLE: (Singing) I'll sing with you. A, B, C... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.