If you’re the kind of parent who views “kids’ music” as giving up and pledges to only play them “the classics” from Day One, bookmark this page and forget it. For all the other parents, who have accepted that it’s more fun to watch a kid spazz out when they hear music made especially for them than to try and explain Led Zepplin’s IV to a 3-year-old, these playlists are for you. Each features songs crafted for kids by artists who are too talented or clever (or both) to dumb them down. So, crank them up with your own kids, and when Mr. Classics shows up late to the party, tell him you’ve been listening since way before it was popular.
Long the provenance of folk singers goofing up classic roots songs and toning down nursery rhymes, kids’ music has experienced a bit of a renaissance over the past 15 years. New artists incorporate everything from hip hop to new wave to bluegrass into songs written about subjects kids innately grasp — like farting.
1. Box of Crayons – The Pop Ups 2. Let’s Skateboard – The Not-Its 3. I Like Fruit – Secret Agent 23 Skiddoo 4. My Home – Brady Rhymer And The Little Band That Could 5. To Be A Fossil – Lunch Money 6. Everybody Farts – Randy Kaplan 7. Can You Canoe – The Okee Dokee Brothers 8. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 – Elizabeth Mitchell 9. Someday, Some Morning, Sometime – Little Miss Ann 10. Just For You – Casper Babypants 11. All About Bob – Ralph’s World 12. Growing Up – Lullatone 13. Hey Sister – Walter Martin 14. Bicycle – Frances England 15. Mr. Tinkly Pants – Yellow Whale
Speaking of folk singers and classics, it doesn’t get much more classic than Pete Seeger or Lead Belly — just 2 examples of roots music titans who recorded nearly as many albums for kids as they did for adults. As for why these kinds of musicians take so naturally to kids’ music, the answer is complex: They like kids.
1. Oh, Susana – Pete Seeger 2. Swinging On A Star – Bing Crosby 3. Willoughby Wallaby Woo – Raffi 4. Stop And Go – Ella Jenkins 5. Don’t You Push Me Down – Woody Guthrie 6. Charlie Brown – The Coasters 7. The Fox – Tom Glazer 8. The Crawdad Song – Sam Hinton 9. John Henry – David Holt 10. Skip To My Lou – Lead Belly 11. Erie Canal – Bill Bonyun 12. Wimoweh – The Weavers 13. Oo-De-Lally – Roger Miller 14. Big Rock Candy Mountain – Tom Chapin15. Bushel And A Peck – Dan Zanes And Friends
Everyone can take a break from beating up on Frozen’s “Let It Go” and acknowledge: Some of the all-time great kids music has been produced as part of all-time great kids’ movies and TV shows. Unless you disagree that the Muppets Show is an all-time great, in which case you probably shouldn’t have had kids in the first place.
1. The Muppet Show Theme – The Muppets 2 . You’ve Got A Friend In Me – Toy Story 3. Reading Rainbow Theme Song – Reading Rainbow 4. Cruella De Vil – 101 Dalmatians 5. I Just Can’t Wait To Be King – The Lion King 6. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins 7. Bare Necessities – Jungle Book 8. C Is For Cookie – Sesame Street 9. Fraggle Rock Theme – Fraggle Rock 10. Goofy Goober Rock – Spongebob Squarepants 11. Sesame Street Theme Song – Sesame Street 12. Whistle Stop – Robin Hood 13. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah – The Song Of The South 14. Under The Sea – The Little Mermaid 15. Movin’ Right Along – The Muppets
In case you weren’t aware, kid-ified versions of popular music, which trade guitars and drums for xylophones and hushed electronic tones, are kind of a thing now — everyone from Pink Floyd to Kanye West has received the treatment, and the results are … oddly hypnotizing. It will put both you and your kid to sleep.
1. Such Great Heights – Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star
2. Under The Bridge – Rockabye Baby 3. Wish You Were Here – Tiny Tot Players 4. On The Road Again – Hushabye Baby 5. Back to Black – Rockabye Baby 6. Ring of Fire – Hushabye Baby 7. Adams Song – Rockabye Baby 8. Black Hole Sun – Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star 9. Sugar Magnolia – Rockabye Baby 10. Desperado – Cradle Rock 11. Born To Run – Rockabye Baby 12. Dog Days Are Over – Twinkle Twinkle Little Rock Star 13. Sweet Child O Mine – Tiny Tot Players 14. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Cradle Rock 15. Every Breath You Take – Tiny Tot Players
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