As parents, we’re willing to do practically anything for our kids. Sadly, this often involves subjecting ourselves to painful entertainment, much to the delight of our little ones who find the music/television show/fill in the blank kiddie entertainment to be THEBESTTHINGEVER. Until next week, that is, when they’re head over heels in love with something else, almost certain to make you long for the horrible annoyance of days gone by, which can’t possibly be as bad as what they’re obsessed with this time. As I write this, my son is being entertained by a singing frog playing a washboard. No, really.
All for you, dear reader. All for you.
It seems a vast realm of potential agony comes from the world of children’s music, from toys to CDs. My son had a Winnie the Pooh spinning top toy as a baby that still haunts me three years later, its bubbly song coming back like brain freeze. “Round, round, round we go, let’s have fun today! Numbers! Shapes! Oh, look, a bee! Join us and we’ll play!”
I’m not the kind of mom who can listen to a chorus of children singing those nursery-rhymey songs in joyous saccharine voices. We also avoid the “hits of now sung by sweet little darlings” compilations. Those enthusiastic man-child Australians with the brightly colored turtlenecks? They frighten and disturb me, and I really can’t take proper care of my preschooler while curled up in the fetal position, banging my head against the wall. I’m here to tell you, you need not suffer to bring music entertainment to your wee-ones, dear reader! Here is my list of the top five albums that won’t leave you weeping for mercy, and you might even find yourself singing along with a real smile on your face. I’ve even been known to sing along when kiddo isn’t even in the car.
#1 (Yeah, yeah, I should do these in reverse order like a proper countdown, but it’s my list and I’m not going to):
Imagination Movers: Juice Box Heroes
Honestly, you can pick any of their albums with confidence. The boys from New Orleans produce, hands down, the most consistently great music for kids. It’s rock music for children, without forgetting their parents are listening, too. They promote problem solving, critical thinking, and all the common themes one would expect from this genre: sharing, friendship, doing household chores, helping, nutrition, etc. They never forget moms and dads, throwing delicious musical tidbits our way. “The roosters, the roosters, the roosters are tired!” (The Roof is on Fire, anyone?)
They also put on a great show, complete with VIP option, where you get to a post-concert jam session and hang with the Movers. May very well be the most fun we’ve ever had as a family.
#2 Barenaked Ladies: SNACKTIME!
In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit a bias. I’ve gone so far as to cruise with these guys, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is just plain great stuff. Okay, I’m not in love with every single track, but the vast majority of them are brilliant, which more than make up for the few…meh…songs on the album. It’s funny, wickedly smart, and the guys are amazing musicians, too. They, like the Movers, don’t forget the parents, throwing in great play on word lyrics that someday make our kids say, “Oooh! I get it!” It’s a win, win.
“The Parthenon’s in Greece, or was it in Grease 2, I can’t keep my movies straight.”
#3 Choo Choo Soul: Choo Choo Soul
This is hip hop for kids, and a constant favorite of my son (doesn’t hurt that the singer is gorgeous!). Featuring vocals by Genevieve, and the beatbox stylings of DC, this is fun, cool, and doesn’t wear thin It always brings back memories from when my son was about two. I had just cut a shopping trip short because he went absolutely BALLISTIC, to the point that everyone was stopping to stare at us (including the Amish women running the place). We got back in the car, me: mortified from the experience, him: still screaming like a maniac, when the music began to play. “Do you, do you, do you, do you know? [...] How to be polite?”
Songs about the alphabet, numbers, animals, manners, and even the Shinkansen are presented in a fun, upbeat style. If you’re lucky like we were, you may have caught Genevieve and DC on tour with Imagination Movers, and as Genevieve quipped during the show, “I can be a role model while covered from neck to toe in polyester!” Yes, you can!
#4 Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey (soundtrack)
Featuring Carbon Leaf, and a California Sun cover by Brian Wilson, how can you go wrong? A music teacher’s dream of an album, I’d imagine.
#5 Phineas and Ferb: Soundtrack
You probably have to be a fan of this show to appreciate the music in any real way, but who isn’t a fan of this show? You know what? If you’re not, come to my house. We’ll make you a fan. Just ask anyone who has stayed with us.
This soundtrack, obviously, is from the hit Disney Channel show of the same name. It is simply brilliant. This album, again, obviously, features music from the show. Songs about evil boys, being fabulous, rhythm, an 80s homage: “I’m Lindana and I wanna have fun!” the serious and seldom discussed issue of squirrels in your pants (S to the I to the M to the P), and mummies. It’s all covered.
Have I been known to listen to P&F and/or watch the show when kiddo isn’t around?
Yes, yes I have.