Peter Holslin ghost-wrote the music to Rugrats
I know the lyrics to the Reading Rainbow theme by heart. And while it’s been a long time since I’ve watched that show, I can still dig the tripped-out synths and funky drums featured on the original recording from the series premiere in 1983. But, alas, PBS children’s show themes were not created equal. That’s what I thought, at least, when I first heard the Arthur song back in my middle school days. Maybe it’s because I’d grown out of that kids’ stuff, but Ziggy Marley’s watered-down reggae arrangement just didn’t cut it for me, nor did the song’s relentlessly positive message.
One can find beauty in the unlikeliest places, though, and Chance the Rapper does just that on his vastly different take on the Arthur tune. Released on his SoundCloud —a recorded version of a song Chance has reportedly been playing live lately—“Wonderful Everyday: Arthur” is a jazzy piano ballad that relies on an army of vocalists (including Wyclef Jean and Jessie Ware) to build up the life-affirming vibes. The vocal harmonies flutter like a flock of doves until a gigantic beat drops, and Chance, backed by his band The Social Experiment, closes things out with a tough and inspiring message: “And when I go down / I’mma go down swinging / My eyes still smiling / And my heart still singing.”
Now, I’m positive those last lines didn’t come from the original Arthur song. But that’s fine, because the song still offers a simple message coming from the heart. And more importantly, it makes Arthur look a whole lot cooler. I can almost see the elementary-school aardvark now, tossing aside his Coke-bottle glasses and
replacing them with Stevie Wonder’s shades.