Kids’ Music That Isn’t Annoying (18 Cool Kids’ Albums)

Kids’ Music That Isn’t Annoying (18 Cool Kids’ Albums)

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Your standards for music have changed since you had kids. All you need for a happy family is kids’ music that isn’t annoying. And I know you don’t have time to scour iTunes or YouTube, so I did it for you.

I browsed, searched, and ransacked the internet for decent kids’ music, looking for songs that all ages could appreciate. My requirements for this list are solid musicianship, catchy or likable songs that are family-friendly, and lyrics that are fun and quirky but not condescending to little ones’ intelligence. I also looked for a variety of styles, genres, and tones. Music that inspires dancing, silliness, and laughing while also being clever and smart always gets high marks in my book.

Kids’ deserve music that speaks to them, but it doesn’t have to dumbed down or low quality. And adults deserve to enjoy it, too. Just because you’re a parent, it doesn’t mean your ears should have to suffer for 18 years.

So here it is — a list of 18 albums of kids’ music that isn’t annoying:


Secret Agent 23 Skidoo: Make Believers album cover
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Make Believers
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

The ability to combine clever lyrics with silly fun is rare. When it’s family-friendly, it’s even rarer. This album is hip hop funk with heart and soul, and it pretty much demands that you get up and dance. Positive, empowering messages like “Gotta Be You” and “Make the Future” are what our kids deserve in their music.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
A sparkly purple tuxedo.


Odds & Ends: Andrew & Polly album cover
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Odds & Ends
Andrew & Polly

I dare you to listen to “Grapes” and not have “la la la la grapes” in your head for the rest of the day. It’s fun, easy-to-listen-to guy/girl pop that’s well-written and silly when it needs to be. Like with their cover of “Ghostbusters.” Andrew & Polly also compose music for TV, advertising, and film, which shines through in the tight and polished nature of their kids’ music.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
Pros who know prose.


The Pop Ups: Great Pretenders Club album cover
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Great Pretenders Club
The Pop Ups

I’m obligated to include this one as it contains the first song that really got my preschooler’s attention on an exceptional level. “Bird & Rhino” came up on a mix we were listening to, and we flapped our arms like birds as we moved around the kitchen. Then we stomped like rhinos when the song demanded. Even my 18-month-old was joining in. Then we listened to it 6 more times, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
Indie-pop that you sometimes forget is kids’ music.


Many Hands - Family Music for Haiti album cover
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Many Hands – Family Music for Haiti
Various Artists

The sing-a-long quality of the first song’s chorus caught me right away. In fact, that song is what is keeping this album on the list. I like the concept of “family music,” something that the Ziggy Marley album also captures (#10 on this list). There’s a wide variety of styles here with the feeling that you took a trip around the world. The upside to compilations is you get exposed to new artists you may not have otherwise found. The downside is that sometimes the album lacks in consistency.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
A world-traveling box of lottery tickets — mostly wins, but some not so much.


StoryBots Outer Space EP album cover
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StoryBots Outer Space – EP
StoryBots

The first time I put the show on TV for my preschooler, I stopped what I was doing in the kitchen to pay attention to the songs. I was downright IMPRESSED, and I admit I’m a tough crowd when it comes to musical content. The entire first episode and its songs about the solar system were SO HOT (a lyrical nod to track no. 2, you’re welcome). Educational, incredibly smart, funky, and with super smooth hooks. (You can also add the Shapes – EP and the Dinosaurs – EP to your list of kids’ music that isn’t annoying.)

To sum it up, it sounds like:
That moment when your preschooler clears his plate off the table for the first time ever, without being asked, then thanks you for making dinner and kisses his little brother on the cheek. Jaw. To. Floor.


Christina Perri: songs for carmella album cover
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songs for carmella: lullabies & sing-a-longs
Christina Perri

It’s sweet and simple. The vocals are clean, clear, and comforting. It’s a collection of cover songs that you probably know. They aren’t necessarily kids’ songs, but they are lovely songs to sing to your children as bedtime lullabies. And should you want to do just that, the album includes instrumental versions of each song so that you can karaoke them to your heart’s content. (If you like this, you may also like JJ Heller’s I Dream of You.)

To sum it up, it sounds like:
That moment when your house is clean for 2 minutes before your kids come back in. (Oh, and your house is full of white furniture and white carpets.)


FunkeyMonkeys: Moustache album cover
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Mustache
FunkeyMonkeys

If kids’ music is a self-serve frozen yogurt joint, and Christina Perri’s kids’ album is a single scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt (reliable and satisfying), this album is a tub of banana-flavored frozen yogurt with alllllll the toppings. Sometimes its overkill, but it’s never lacking in fun. I’m guessing it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (or yogurt), but it might be yours!

To sum it up, it sounds like:
Sounds like a fun version of the inside of my head on days when my to-do list is longer than my receipt from Target.


For the Kids: Various Artists album cover
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For the Kids
Various Artists

Reading the list of contributing artists, it’s very clearly an album from artists of the 90s (released in 2002). (Cake, Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan, etc.) That era is near and dear to me so I’m into it. However, I was a teen in the 90s, NOT a parent, so I didn’t know it existed until now. I can’t say I love ALL the songs on this one, but it deserves a place on the list if only for Cake’s version of the Muppet’s “Mahna Mahna” and Barenaked Ladies’ “La La La La Lemon.” (If you like this album, you’d probably also like Barenaked Ladies’ Snacktime!)

To sum it up, it sounds like:
The 90s, for better or for worse.


Science Fair album cover
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Science fair
Various Artists

A thousand points for an entire album for kids from various artists with a science theme. In your face, no frills, jagged edges rock music. The chorus of “Girls can do anything…” on “Rocket Science” (track no. 12) which is also rapped by a young girl is pretty freakin’ awesome.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
Me, with my hair unbrushed and some unidentified stains on my shirt, but I’ve had a glass of wine so I’m kitchen-dancing with my eyes closed.


Ziggy Marley: Family Time album cover
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Family Time
Ziggy Marley

Reggae is not my favorite. That said, I can appreciate this family-centered album of upbeat, sunny tunes. It might be the perfect album to play on your next family beach trip. And who knows, it might be your favorite album of kids’ music that isn’t annoying.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
The sun, wearing sunglasses, smiling, and holding a sunflower at a pool party.


Lisa Loeb: Nursery Rhyme Parade album cover
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Nursery Rhyme Parade! (An Amazon Music Original)
Lisa Loeb

Nursery rhymes are not my favorite, but it seems only right to have at least 1 album of classic children’s songs in your arsenal (especially for younger littles). The good news? It doesn’t have to be awful on the ears! This collection (only available on Amazon) is 37 songs — many under a minute long — of songs your kid probably already knows. I put this on and my preschooler was singing along immediately.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
Mother Goose + a fairy running through a meadow


Lisa Loeb: Feel What U Feel album cover
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Feel What U Feel (An Amazon Music Original)
Lisa Loeb

Yes, I’m giving Lisa Loeb 2 slots on my list of kids’ music that isn’t annoying. I’m a big fan of Lisa for her authenticity and quirkiness. And for the song “Stay (I Miss You)” from Reality Bites, obviously. The other album in my list was a collection of classics, but this one is mostly sweet (Grammy-winning) originals. If you like this one, you’ll also like her album Camp Lisa, which raises funds for kids in need to go to summer camp.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
A best friend that sent you flowers for no reason.


Ozomatli Presents Ozokidz album cover
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Ozomatli Presents Ozokidz
Ozomatli & Ozokidz

Latin, hip-hop, reggae, rock. Perfect for wild and crazy toddler dance parties that don’t even start until 7 PM — Whoah! This L.A. band has been together for over 20 years and normally makes music for grown-ups. This appears to be their only kids’ album, but it sure sounds like they had a lot of fun doing it.  

To sum it up, it sounds like:
You jumped in the pool with all your clothes on, but you’re really owning it.


Justin Roberts: Greatest Hits album cover
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Greatest Hits
Justin Roberts

Dude knows how to write a catchy hook. He’s got quite a few kids’ albums — so many that he has a greatest hits album. I just love “My Brother Did It” (probably because I have 2 boys), and “Pop Fly” (because of the insanely catchy chorus). And who CAN’T relate to a song called, “Meltdown.” I had to listen a couple times for this to grow on me, but the quality of the songs quickly convinced me.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
A fishing pole because…. Catchy hooks… get it?!


Cameron's Bedtime Classics: Lullaby Duets album cover
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Lullaby Duets
Cameron’s Bedtime Classics

When you need a break from words but still want a familiar melody. Or if you want soothing but recognizable tunes played on acoustic guitar for bedtime. I’m pretty sure my blood pressure lowered while I simply previewed the album on iTunes.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
A happy nap.


Caspar Babypants: Away We Go! album cover
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Away We Go
Caspar Babypants

Caspar Babypants, if you don’t know already, is the former frontman of 90s alt-rock band, The Presidents of the United States of America. I’m actually new to the term “kindie-rock,” but I kinda like it, and that’s what this is. He has about 15 albums so while I’ve named one here, the rest are pretty much the same in terms of style and quality. If you like one, you’d like them all. Some are differently themed (i.e. Night Night! Vs. Rise and Shine! Vs. Beatles Baby!), and there’s also one called Winter Party! which is an album of Christmas and holiday songs made to please even the non-secular. (Oh, and they all end in exclamation points.) None of the songs, in particular, stand out to me, but there is something consistently friendly and likable about the music as a whole.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
A surfboard mixed with an indie version of a cloud.


Schoolhouse Rock - Multiplication Rock album cover
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Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication Rock
Various Artists

There was an album made in the 90s by alt-rock bands covering a lot of these songs, but I prefer this version from 1973. To make a rock song out of multiplication tables is truly a remarkable feat. If you want to introduce your kids to a broad spectrum of musical eras (plus math), this one is a win. With lyrics like,  “Did you ever stop to think about zero? Zero is fantastic,” all I can think is, “You had me at zero, Schoolhouse Rock.”

To sum it up, it sounds like:
Bellbottoms, roller skates, and rotary telephones. Also: 1 + 1 + 1 = 3.


They Might Be Giants: Here Come the ABCs album cover
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Here Come the ABCs
They Might Be Giants

The themed album is really a lost art these days — one that I mourn the loss of often. I love the record that tells a complete story from start to finish. Is that just me? Well, if you understand my sentiment, perhaps you will also appreciate this 2005 release which features 25 quirky songs about the alphabet. If you and your kiddos are totally OVER the ABCs, you’re in luck. There’s also a Here Come the 123s and Here Comes Science album.

To sum it up, it sounds like:
The alphabet became international pop stars and even quirky rock bands sing about them.


… More Cool Kids’ Music That Isn’t Annoying via YouTube:

PBS Digital made some super fun remixes that our preschooler looooovvvves and requests often, including Bob Ross, Julia Childs, and Mister Rogers. My husband and I think they are pretty rad, too. The full playlist on YouTube can be found here.

So there you have it — around 13 hours of kids’ music that isn’t annoying.

If you know of any albums that you feel are missing from this list, please share in the comments below! And for more ways to use music to encourage creativity in your kids (plus so much more!) check out The Ultimate Guide to Creativity for Moms.


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Cyndi Harvell Lee

Musician, writer, mother, and lover of the outdoors. I equally love getting silly and getting real. And my goal is to connect, support and inspire moms everywhere to follow their passion, find their peace, and realize that "amazing" is already there inside of them.

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