2008 was an amazing year for children's music. Several grownup bands released great kids' albums, children's music veterans recorded some of their best work in a while, and performers new to the kids' music world produced great rookie CDs. Here are my picks for some of the best children's music of 2008:
Courtesy Ann Torralba
Chicago's Ann Torralba lends a definite 1970's L.A. music vibe to her socially conscious, audience participation tunes. Clap for Love
is the second kids' album from this Old Town School of Folk Music veteran.
Courtesy Nicole Brauch
Seattle musician and educator Brian Vogan ventures into the kids' music world with great results. His first album for children is full of tunes fit for classic shows like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
or Sesame Street
, but grownups will definitely sneak a listen, as well.
Courtesy Desperation Records
Long-time BNL fans and new listeners alike will love this Canadian band's first CD for kids, featuring two dozen songs, skits, and amusing observations. The best thing about the album is that Barenaked Ladies don't leave behind their trademark sense of humor and super catchy pop songs just because it's a children's CD.
Courtesy Head Space Records
Dreamy lyrics and melodies to die for make this album the best naptime CD of the year. American Nancy Falkow and Dubliner Fran King's sublime pop songwriting skills will appeal to indie rock-loving grownups, as well.
Courtesy Monkey Mama Records
Three teachers from Seattle combine their love of the Beatles with their own pop sensibilities and witty turn of a lyric to create a ridiculously catchy album for kids. This is their fourth children's CD, and they just keep getting better!
Courtesy Vagrant Records
Jerzy the Giant
is The Terrible Twos' second album for kids, and, while they probably won't quit their day job as The New Amsterdams, this CD is one reason for their growing popularity as children's artists. Family-centric tunes in the Lawrence, Kansas-based New Amsterdams' familiar quiet pop sound.
Courtesy Yellow Thing Records & Books
Brooklyn's Randy Kaplan is the best singing storyteller around: I've seen him mesmerize a room full of kids with a tale about a shark applying shampoo. Loquat Rooftop
, Kaplan's second kids' album, is a great collection of rootsy originals, surprising covers, and Kaplan's trademark singing/talking stories.
Courtesy Gee, Spot! Records
Music veteran Gunnar Madsen has released several albums for children and adults over the years, and I'm Growing
has to be his best ever for kids. This Berkeley, California-based musician's inventive, catchy, intelligent pop music is worthy of Top 40 radio or a Broadway musical.
Courtesy David Hale
The best hip hop album for kids to date. In the ever-growing "kid hop" genre, Asheville, South Carolina's Skidoo shows the competition how it's done by turning in a well-produced, well-written collection of songs that appeals to children without dumbing down the delivery.
Courtesy Frances England
Frances England's second album for kids perfectly encapsulates the ideal CD for children: the songs are written for kids, about kids, and appeal to the whole family. The best children's album of 2008!