I'm not the music nerd that I used to be. Gone are the music magazine subscriptions and my weekly internet reading of what-to-listen-to-now stuff. But I still have a bit of a snob-streak, especially when it comes to what my kids listen to. I want them to hear a variety of musical styles and voices. I have no huge objection to Kidz Bop; if your kids simply have to listen to the same drivel their teenage siblings enjoy, sanitized, kid-friendly versions are probably the best. For us, I figure our kids will have many future years of poisoning my stereo with Beiber and friends - I want them to enjoy honest to goodness kids music right now. Remember when we had Raffi? I wanted to know who Raffi was for the 21st Century. Here are 5+1 favourites from our home playlist (100% Wiggles, Barney and Kidz Bop Free).
Justin Roberts - Meltdown:
I challenge you to listen Roberts' nasally Blink 182 voice and not love it. I don't like Blink nor nasally voices, but this guy sings from such an earnest, Kids-Eye-View of the world, that you just have to give in. And the songs themselves are great. If he wrote for grown-ups, his gift for infectious hooks and lyrics would have made him a household name - I am sure of it . As it stands, kids get to reap the benefits.
Ziggy Marley - Family Time:
The same guy who brought us the Arthur Theme (more on that later) gives us a collection of Reggae kid music that is great for summertime. Backyards, roadtrips; you could play the whole album (minus the last vanity track from Jamie Lee Curtis) at a BBQ and probably no one would wonder about it. Sunshine for your ear drums.
Barenaked Ladies - Snacktime:
Pretty much a perfect fit: a kids CD from a band that refuses to grow up. Clever songs, rhymes and fun for the kids and enough lyric-based smiles for grow-ups. Worth owning for the song "Popcorn" alone - play it loud while waiting at a traffic light with your kids gyrating in their car-seats and the guy stopped next to you in the pimped out Civic with the booming sound system will realize how hollow his life really is.
Lisa Loeb & Elizabeth Mitchell - Catch the Moon
If you have 90's flashbacks to "Stay", yes - it is that Lisa Loeb. She combines with Elizabeth Mitchell (another great kids music performer) on this low key album that would play well for the baby and toddler crowd. While older, my kids still love "Little Red Caboose" and "Oh Groundhog". If Justin Roberts is keeping them up, this will mellow them out.
Various Artists - Arthur and Friends
I am an unapologetic Arthur Fan and dread the day when my kids call it a "baby show" and I'll have to watch it without them. I know from talking to teenagers in my classes that they look back fondly on the show itself years later. The music on this disk is performed by the voice-cast members with Ziggy Marley on the Title Theme. And before you ask - yes, they have "Library Card", "Crazy Bus" and.... the Binky Song! Oweewee Oooweewweee Ooweeewewe Oooooooo.
Tribond Bonus Selection:
Star Wars Theme? Indiana Jones Theme? Harry Potter Theme? The Answer: John Williams, or as our kids know him - the guy who writes all the music for the Lego video games. We've got a greatest hits medley that we have in our van rotation. Kids love it and to be honest, it makes driving around for groceries and Home Depot runs that much more exciting and magical. And if your older kids have seen ET, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Superman... John Williams has you covered too.
All above titles and images link to our Amazon Store if you want to order a physical CD (our affiliate links). We keep our van CD changer full of these CDs for instant entertainment on the road, without fear of leaving an iPod behind for thieves to notice.
Feeling Frugal? Of course you are. eMusic is where I buy most of my digital music and Clicking Here allows you a free $10 credit. eMusic tracks are MP3 format (play on everything) and cost $.49 each (half of iTunes/Amazon). All these album picks (except Arthur & Friends) can be found on eMusic too, plus some of our other favourite picks:
- the amazing Kids Club Family Songbook,
- Mamma Yamma from CBC and
- a gigantic library of Sesame Street Albums.
What are your picks for kids' albums that don't make you wish you had earplugs?