You know what’s awful? Music for kids. I don’t know why the majority of musicians (and I use the term loosely) find it necessary to record crap that only someone on an acid trip would listen to. The whole point of children’s music is to either get them to stop crying, go to sleep (or both) and not make you drive into oncoming highway traffic to make the cute-puke-ditties stop. After all, kids love music so why have them listen to garbage?
Thankfully, there are a few exceptions to this horrible rule, so pick up these tracks to help get your please-stop-crying-in-rush-hour-traffic groove on.
1) For the Kids This is a compilation by artists like Cake, Sarah McLachlan and Wilco that cover familiar tunes for kids but in a palatable way. A portion of the proceeds also goes to charity and there’s a For the Kids 2 and 3. Can’t go wrong, Mamma.
2) Jazz for Kids Really this is just taking some toe tappin’ jazz music that kids would enjoy while making you feel a little more human (pronounced Hue-mOn) and still part of the adult world in the process. What’s more grown-up than jazz for godsake?
3) Snack Time – Barenaked Ladies A collection of 24 original children’s songs that are singable and clever – I used to listen to it when the kids weren’t in the car so that’s saying something. I also now know what a frenulum is and I’m dying to whip that Cliff Claven knowledge out at a dinner party but then I remembered that I don’t go to dinner parties anymore.
4) Singable Songs For The Very Young: Great With A Peanut-Butter Sandwich – Raffi Okay some may argue that Raffi falls into the shit camp but then I would have to punch them in the face. I grew up with Raffi so there’s a place of sweet nostalgia that comes along with his kind, gentle music. Even if you disagree with me, you have to admit that the man has really stood the test of time and he never hits those crazy shrill notes so you have to give him props.
5) Hippo in the Bathtub – Anne Murray I love Anne Murray because she has a low singing voice and I have a low singing voice (more in a drunk old-lady lounge lizard way than man way) so I really dig this album. I also grew up listening to it so I knew all the songs. Even if you don’t share her husky man-voice (am I selling this or what?) the album has such a nice, calming feel to it that you’re kids can’t help but fall asleep.
6) Curious George Soundtrack – Jack Jonhson Personally, I hated this movie. It sucked. I love the soundtrack though. Jack Jonhson is soothing and smooth and I don’t care if people think he’s a sell-out, I still love him and I love this album.
7) Rockabye Baby Led Zeppelin I almost hate buying these Rockabye Baby albums because I’m so pissed that I didn’t think of doing this myself (the fact that I have no musical training or ability is moot). This series takes hit songs from bands like U2, AC/DC and The Beatles, just to name a few, and set them to lullaby music. Your baby thinks it’s listening to a soothing lullaby while you’re able to reminisce about the time you were 17 and got high in your friend’s basement while rocking out to Whole Lotta Love. Good times.
8) Name Your Tune These guys are cool because they take your run-of-the-mill tunes and put your child’s name into the song and we’re not talking “La,la,la,la,la,la,la,la, TIMMY la,la,la,la,”. If they don’t have your child’s name they actually record it – and well too. The only thing I worry about is my kid wondering why the hell his name isn’t incorporated into every song once he hits pre-school. Life lesson. Sorry, buddy. Mommy thought it was neat.
9) Bergin and Melissa These guys seem to be relatively new on the kids music scene so just remember that you read about them here first. Their songs are upbeat and catchy and they sing harmony which is like ear crack to me. I LOVE the fact that I can sing along with them and it actually sounds close to the real song. My kids love it. I knowingly listened to this album in the car without the kids one time. Now there’s a plug.
10) They Might Be Giants Ah, a flicker of hip in my minivan world. They are smart, educational and catchy. My husband, in particular, likes this band. Probably for the same reason I like Bergin and Melissa, he can sing along easily without feeling like an idiot.
11) Bobs and Lolo A harmonizing duo from Canada, these gals deliver great music sprinkled with a little repetition that kids love. None of it is annoying so you don’t want to frisbee the CD out the car window screaming “enough of this shit!” (like I want to do with Thomas the Train. Fuck that tank engine). They have the occasional obscure Canadian reference in there about preserving the sturgeon and provincial birds. I LOVE it.
12) Dan Zanes People were appalled when I didn’t have him on the original list. I had heard of him and saw him on many “Cool CD” lists but had never owned any of his music. Well, his accolades are well deserved because his calm, soothing music is just plain great. His crazy-ass hair alone would get be buying his CD.
13) Terrible Twos I found these guys from a comment below and I love them. They are one of those hip bands that just happen to make music that appeals to kids.
14) Okee Dokee Brothers I am pretty sure that I would make an ass of myself at one of their concerts by trampling a bunch or four-year olds while rushing the stage. Can I just say that there are not enough banjos in music today?! These Grammy winners are cute, smart and create very catchy music. Yet another CD I listen to in the car when my kids aren’t
Any other recos?