When you think of music for kids, you don’t usually think of artists and songs that mom and dad will be pumped to listen to as well. Fear not, dear readers! There is music out there that the whole family can happily jam to, or sing to, or dance to or whatever you like to do while you listen.
Let’s face it: children’s music can be quite nauseating. A million versions of the same four tunes, animal noises and sounds effects inserted throughout, pop songs reimagined for the toddling crowd–it’s enough to drive any loving parent to complete insanity. Put those songs on repeat for five or more years, and you’ll be wishing you never introduced your child to “kids’ music” at all. But wait a minute! Would you believe me if I told you there is actually some great music out there for kids? Music you might really enjoy and want to listen to again and again? It does exist, I promise!
Let’s begin with one you might have heard of before. Rockabye Baby! is a series of albums that have taken popular rock and pop music and transformed the songs into lullabies. Now, I know I just said that adult music recorded specifically for children is terrible. And it usually is. But the folks who created Rockabye Baby! did something different here. These recordings are instrumental versions of the songs you know and love. They are soothing for babies, but parents will still enjoy them. We have The Beatles, Radiohead, Jay-Z and The Smashing Pumpkins and both my husband and I are huge fans.
Andrew and Polly
Andrew and Polly are a singer/songwriter duo who create music (and a podcast!) for children. Their sound could be described as part folk, part pop–much of their music is super upbeat and catchy with a healthy dose of silly that your kids will love, but won’t annoy you. One of my favourites, “Little Bitta You”, can quickly turn around a bad day in my home. They also have some fun covers, like this “Ghostbusters” gem!
Lullatone is duo from Japan whose music is completely mesmerising. I have a really tough time describing their sound, but you might say it has an electronic pop feel with some interesting vocals and sound effects. Their albums are thematic collections of compositions that will be soothing and enjoyable for children and adults alike, and the album artwork resembles illustrations from great children’s books. They’re musically interesting, too–the album Songs That Spin in Circles, for instance, is a collection of lullabies crafted so that when you use the repeat function, each individual song can be looped to play as an infinite, ongoing piece of music. So if there’s one that tends to help your kid fall asleep, just set it and forget it.
Elizabeth Mitchell is a musician who records and performs folk music for children and families. Some of her songs are simply Mitchell with her soothing voice and acoustic guitar, but others are much more layered, and include guest vocals from her husband and 11 year-old daughter. “You are My Sunshine” and “John the Rabbit” are two favourites in our home. The gentle feel and simplicity of this music makes it a great listen for time spent playing or doing arts and crafts with your littles.
I have intentionally saved the best for last. I discovered Frances England when my first born was only a few months old, and I have listened to her music almost daily since that day. It has been the soundtrack to this stage in my life–a mother to two amazing children. Like Mitchell, England has a folk vibe to her music, but with a little more of a modern feel. Her original songs, with their simple, stunning lyrics, perfectly capture the joy and magic of childhood and parenthood simultaneously. Listening to her music, I go from tapping my feet and bouncing around the living room with my kids to welling up with tears and reflecting on my journey as a parent. Songs like, “I Scream, You Scream,” “Do You Hear The Birds Singing” and “All the Things I Found” remind you to put away your phone, slow down and enjoy every moment with your little one as they discover the world around them. And I dare you to listen to “Move it Like a Saturday Night” and not jump up dancing. I can’t recommend this woman’s music enough.
If you are tired of listening to awful children’s music and dread begin stuck in the car with it playing on a loop, give these artists/albums a try. You will find that music for kids doesn’t have to give you the feeling of nails on a chalkboard, but can lift your spirits and help you bond with your kids. Have a listen–what have you got to lose?
What’s your favourite music to listen to with your kids? Tell us in the comments.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.