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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.