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Rocknoceros Reimagines ‘Five Little Monkeys,’ Reflects on Lasting Appeal

By Cynthia Gross

Last month, D.C.-based children’s themed award-winning band Rocknoceros released their latest single, “Five Little Monkeys,” an irresistible reimagined version of the popular nursery rhyme that serves as a cautionary tale for incorrigible rambunctious little ones. With the addition of a brass section, organ, fun sound effects, and expanded lyrics, the track is a delight for young and adult audiences alike.

“Five Little Monkeys” is set in a magical world where species coexist and imagination is unfettered. Formed by three childhood friends – Marc “Boogie Woogie Bennie” Capponi, Patrick “Williebob” Williams, and David “Coach” Cotton – Rocknoceros has been entertaining audiences on local and national stages since 2005. Currently, Capponi and Williams are the band’s active performing members.

When asked how Rocknoceros has been able to retain a sense of innocence needed to connect authentically with young audiences nearly two decades in the making, Capponi shared that it has been “surprisingly easy to keep it fresh.”

“I think this is because we are playing for young children who are often experiencing live music for the first time, and we are playing for young parents who are frequently watching their children experience live music for the first time,” he added. “It makes the shows feel very personal and joyous.”

“Five Little Monkeys” begins with the traditional lyrics: “Five little monkeys jumping on the bed / One fell off and bumped its head.” In addition to applying tweaks to modernize the song, including replacing the possessive pronouns “his” and “her” with “its,” Rocknoceros expands on the original composition by changing chord progressions and adding catchy lyrics of their own. Listeners are also introduced to the monkeys’ family and neighbors in the form of an orangutan, gorilla, and ape.

“Five Little Monkeys” offers endless fun, reconnecting seasoned audiences to the sense of wonder that often gets snuffed out in adulthood and introducing younger ones to timeless classics. Rocknocerous ups the game in a way that honors the original track but expands on it to captivating effect. In fact, this version of the song should become the new standard.

Late last year, Rocknoceros was selected to participate in Out of Our Shells, a new mobile studio recording project sponsored by American University designed to amplify underrepresented D.C. area artists. The immersive creative project unites DMV musicians and producers, college students, faculty, and community partners around a great cause: expanding access and spreading hope.

Rocknoceros recorded their track as part of the project in mid-March alongside engineer Neil Perry. “It was a great experience and tons of fun,” Capponi said, noting it was an honor to be selected to participate. “We wrote an original ska tune for the project; it has positive message, and seems like a song that works equally well for kids and adults.”

Check out the lyric video for “Five Little Monkeys” below or find it on the Alchemical Records Multigenre Mixture playlist on Spotify and YouTube. Stay tuned for the release of the Out of Our Shells compilation album and free community show slated for summer 2022.

Cynthia Gross

Maryland-based singer-songwriter Cynthia Gross seeks to inspire an awakening to all we are and all we can become. With a passion for language in all of its forms and more than a decade of experience as a professional ghostwriter, she is a light seeker who understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.

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