New Yellow Wiggle

There is a new fellow inside the yellow Wiggle costume. The kids haven’t noticed but the parents have.

The millions of families with preschool-age children around the world who have bought CDs and DVDs featuring the Wiggles, the Australian foursome known as much for their cheery color-coded jerseys as their catchy tunes, have long treated the band with an ardor reminiscent of the screams that greeted the British pop invasion.

So when Greg Page, 34, the band’s lead singer since its inception 15 years ago, announced on Thursday that he was resigning after being diagnosed with a serious illness that leaves him frequently lightheaded and unable to dance and leap to the group’s most energetic hits, it was the equivalent of John Lennon or Paul McCartney quitting the Beatles. That comparison is not so far-fetched considering Mr. Page’s high visibility within the band, which estimates it has sold more than 15 million DVDs and CDs in the United States alone in less than a decade, and in light of his role as singer and co-writer of most of its repertory of original rock and pop compositions.

And yet, there have already been signs that however much Mr. Page may have meant to the group, the transfer of his trademark yellow jersey to a new yellow Wiggle — a longtime backup singer and dancer for the band named Sam Moran — was not particularly traumatic for the Wiggles’ core audience (children 2 to 5).

The effect on parents is another matter: Mothers attending their concerts have been known to tell interviewers that they regard the nearly 6-foot-5 Mr. Page, among other bandmates, as a matinee idol, and in Australia — where the group is currently on tour — there is now a grass-roots “Wear Yellow to the Wiggles” campaign being organized “to say a proper goodbye to Greg.”

Those of you like me, who are simultaneously old enough to have missed out on the Wiggles as a kid (indeed, I’m older than Page) and yet without children, likely consider any comparison of the Wiggles and the Beatles rather absurd.

Gone Hollywood

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. The Beatles comparison is silly artistically, no doubt.

    But, if you one has kids of the right age, one knows that the Wiggles were freakin’ huge–beyond anything one could possible think possible about four dudes singing kid’s songs.

  2. Anderson says:

    Oh, wow. Haven’t seen the new guy on Disney.

    My 2-year-old wakes up most mornings saying, “Wiggles!” (Or else “Heroes!” for the please-someone-do-an-SNL-skit-of-this Higglytown Heroes show.)

  3. David Harris says:

    Yeah, I hear if you play the Wiggles DVD backwards it says “Greg is dead.”

    Too easy?

  4. You’re not alone, James. I’d never even heard of the Wiggles until a week ago.