Tunes for toddlers: Help me find music that provides 'instant gratification' for my 2 year old
November 27, 2009 5:54 AM   Subscribe

Tunes for toddlers: Help me find music that provides 'instant gratification' for my 2 year old

I have a little toddler who, like all toddlers, has a short attention span but loves music.

The other MeFi threads about music for toddlers have been really really helpful to me - especially because I have very narrow knowledge of (and quite dreadful taste in) music.

However, my son only gives a song a moment to allow him to fall in love with it. Otherwise he demands another song. Occasionally, I'm not at the iPod quick enough, and then he does listen to another song, and this can lead to him liking the new song too. Eg this happened with Sound of the Underground (girls aloud) which randomly led onto Banana Pancakes (jack johnson). I wish this would happen more often, and I'd like to create that opportunity for him more. But my music knowledge is just not deep enough.

Soooo, I was wondering if there are - specifically - songs that your children loved INSTANTLY? Tunes which have great intros (eg Jailhouse Rock/ Dancing in the moonlight) or a initial strong beat (Sound of the Underground (Girls Aloud) or That's Not My Name (Ting Tings)), or other things, like an interesting voice, or weird noises etc.

I do have a few of these tunes already - alot of Elvis stuff, Beach Boys, some TMBG stuff but then I started struggling and now he also loves Ghostbusters, Eye of the Tiger and far far too much Abba! So please help if you can. It's also helping me discover a love for music that I never knew I had!
posted by dimon to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (33 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
My 2-year old nephew instantly fell in love with Ray Charles - I've Got a Woman. He sings along, but sings I've Got a Walnut.

Anyway, his love for the song has lasted for a long time now, so give it a shot.
posted by sickinthehead at 6:08 AM on November 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

IANAM, but my friend's toddler goes absolutely nutso for Say Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti & Spearhead.
posted by ferociouskitty at 6:09 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

My kiddos are really into Hit the Road Jack. The words are simple; it's short and they can sing along.

They also love Boom, Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas.

Jump Jive and Wail by the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

I Love Rock and Roll by Joan Jett.

Oddly enough, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon. I think it is just the chorus.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper.

We went through an ABBA phase too. It makes me cringe when I hear the intro to "Dancing Queen".
posted by beachhead2 at 6:15 AM on November 27, 2009

Have you ruled out music that's made especially for toddlers? I've found that the Barenaked Ladies' "Snacktime" album and the Imagination Movers' stuff is fun for my son but not horrible for me to listen to.

If you just want regular music, though, my son loved "Missed the Boat" by Modest Mouse. He likes songs with a strong beat.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:18 AM on November 27, 2009

One song my toddler loved immediately was Vampire Weekend's 'A-Punk'. He used to love the 'Ay ay ay' part, which would shout at the top of his voice. I almost crashed the car the first time. He's moved on to liking Jason Lytle now for some odd reason.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:19 AM on November 27, 2009

IANAP, but would Girl Talk be totally inappropriate?
posted by knile at 6:22 AM on November 27, 2009

These are all songs my kids loved instantly (probably for precisely the reasons you listed):

Crazy & Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
Single Ladies – Beyonce
I Beg Your Pardon – KonKan
Into the Groove - Madonna
Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas

They’re currently loving “Hearbreak Warfare” by John Mayer which has a strong intro and solid beat.
posted by yawper at 6:29 AM on November 27, 2009

Peanut Butter and Jelly - ???
posted by punkfloyd at 6:38 AM on November 27, 2009

I hate to be so obvious, also because its such a cliché: Classical.
Many small kids do like some classical music a lot, that is, before someone comes along and tells them that its boOoring and old-fashioned.

But not like the babysitter in The Incredibles:
"I also brought Mozart to play while he sleeps to make him smarter because leading experts say Mozart makes babies smarter. And the beauty part is the babies don't even have to listen 'cause they're asleep! You know, I wish my parents played Mozart when I slept because half the time I don't even know what the heck anyone's talking about!"

As a point without too many general significance, I didn't like Mozart much when I was a kid because it sounded what I (then) thought of as 'childish'. But there's a lot of stuff out there that does work well, no matter the length of attention span, and it doesn't necessarily need to be kiddy-sweetened either.
posted by Namlit at 6:46 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

My 2-year-old cousin loves her some Louis Prima. It just occurs to me that she might recognize his voice from The Jungle Book.
posted by elizardbits at 6:46 AM on November 27, 2009

My kid likes "Space Age Love Song" by Flock of Seagulls.
posted by cyniczny at 6:52 AM on November 27, 2009

They Might Be Giants, especially No! and Bed, Bed, Bed. My kid loved them right away when he was two.
posted by crapmatic at 6:53 AM on November 27, 2009

My friends with kids report good success with TMBG, although one of them exposed his kids to Front 242's "Headhunter" early on and they freaking loved it.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:12 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pearl Jam's "Big Wave"
Dick Dale and Surfaris
posted by dzaz at 7:14 AM on November 27, 2009

They Might Be Giant's "Particle Man" and "Istanbul'

Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something"

"Numa Numa" - annoying, but worth it when the kids start dancing around like crazy people.
posted by artychoke at 7:28 AM on November 27, 2009

Song 2 by Blur
posted by Megami at 7:50 AM on November 27, 2009

My cousin's kids love Beasties (Sabotage), Prodigy (er, Firestarter, Smack my bitch up) and Green Day. And Judy Garland, "Get Happy"
posted by runincircles at 7:52 AM on November 27, 2009

My kids have found love at first listen with:

Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash
Der Kommisar - After the Fire
Help - The Beatles
La Bamba - Richie Valens
Istanbul, Not Constantinople - They Might Be Giants
La Gloria - Erasure
Its the End of the World as We Know It(And I Feel Fine) - REM

And lots of kids music (Ralph's World, Dan Zanes, Raffi and Laurie Berkner are some of their favorites).
posted by Dojie at 7:53 AM on November 27, 2009

On a constantly playlist for my 2-year-old:

- Bumblebee Tuna Song
- Banana Pancakes
- Particle Man
- Trojan Reggae for Kids Box Set
- Mahna Mahna (Muppets)
- All I Want is You
- 18 Wheels on a Big Rig
- We Are Ants
- The Banana Splits (Ralph Covert)
- And most recently added: Bohemian Rhapsody (Muppets).
posted by at 7:56 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

ferociouskitty: "IANAM, but my friend's toddler goes absolutely nutso for Say Hey (I Love You) by Michael Franti & Spearhead."

My kids, too. Also "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder (and many of the songs Pandora plays if you seed a station with it). And now I'm driving myself nuts trying to remember the song that really makes them dance -- it has the same "baby girl!" as "Say Hey," but it doesn't seem to be on that album.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:05 AM on November 27, 2009

My 2 year old also walks around singing Say Hey (I Love You) all the time. The other day she started belting it out in the middle of a store.

Other songs she loves:

Weezer - (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
Weezer - Buddy Holly
Louis Prima - Knock Me A Kiss (starts with the line "I like cake...")
Barry Louis Polisar – All I Want Is You
Antsy Pants – Vampire
Tinted Windows - Kind of A Girl

...that's all I can think of now. And the entire Muppet Movie soundtrack.
posted by speeb at 8:28 AM on November 27, 2009

Agree on Green Day. My son loves the early stuff - Kerplunk and prior, which tends to be pretty lyrically clean.
posted by peep at 9:24 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here are a few of my son's (2 1/2) faves off the top of my head:

John Lennon - Instant Karma, Mind Games
Echo & the Bunnymen - 7 Seas, Silver, Crystal Days, Rescue, Lips Like Sugar
Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Rd., Crocodile Rock
ZZ Top - Heard it on the X, Cheap Sunglasses, Just Got Paid, Tush
Blondie - Dreaming
Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
Will I Am - I Like to Move It (from Madagascar 2, iirc)
Feist - 1234 or her "Counting to 4" version from Sesame Street
Corey Harris - Honeysuckle Wine
Stray cats - any of it
Stevie Wonder - Sir Duke, Isn't She Lovely, Superstition, Higher Ground
Neil Young - Comes a Time
B-52s - Planet Claire
Yardbirds - Over Under Sideways Down, Shapes of Things
Heart - Barracuda
Heatwave - Boogie Nights
posted by gimli at 9:31 AM on November 27, 2009

Have you tried any Raffi yet? My 4 month old LOVES him. It's weird.
posted by gnutron at 9:55 AM on November 27, 2009

My 18 month old loves The Specials. And I love him.

Late 70s UK Ska is a great choice I reckon. Great riddims.
posted by tim_in_oz at 10:54 AM on November 27, 2009

I bet a lot of Thao with the Get Down Stay Down would work.

mr. librarino suggests "Hey Ya" by Outkast and I think he is probably right.
posted by librarina at 11:11 AM on November 27, 2009

A lot of Queen stuff is popular 'round these parts

Another One Bites the Dust is good.

The weird al version, too.

Faith, by George Michael if he can get past the quiet 30 seconds

My suggestion, though, is to spend time listening to music YOU like and ignore his demands to change it, while, of course, also giving him some time to listen to what he likes. He'll end up liking what you like and you won't be hopping up and down to change the music all the time.
posted by kathrineg at 11:25 AM on November 27, 2009

Thank you so much, incredible array of answers. If there's more, please keep them coming.

As for classical, yes my little one listens to Mozart/Beethoven/Brahms-y stuff every bedtime. But these days he instantly, embarassingly, whines for Mamma Mia or Ghostbusters.

I've spent the afternoon on Spotify (working out the songs I like first - thanks katherineg) and will spend the next few days keeping iTunes in business..
posted by dimon at 11:47 AM on November 27, 2009

Self-link alert: I have a column on my blog specifically for kiddo-friendly "grownup" music.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:13 PM on November 27, 2009

My 2yo daughter loves Shake It, by Metro Station.
posted by Duke999R at 4:53 PM on November 27, 2009

Oh, just remembered a few more:

She loves the Mighty Wind soundtrack and Rockin' the Suburbs (edited) by Ben Folds.

A Mighty Wind is a great album anyway.
posted by speeb at 10:20 PM on November 27, 2009

My youngest son loves the Violent Femmes (I sing loudly over the naughty words eg. why can't I get just one moo, why can't I get just one cup etc.) 'Chicago' by Sufjan Stevens and 'Coin-Operated Boy' by Dresden Dolls are also favourites. Oh, and 'Blackbird' by the Beatles.
posted by h00py at 4:04 AM on November 28, 2009

Bathtime in Clerkenwell, by The REal Tuesday Weld always gets my whole household dancing:
The video is pretty, but not as cheerful as the music.
posted by lorax at 11:30 PM on May 21, 2010

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