Looking for kid-friendly song suggestions
July 20, 2011 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Looking for kid-friendly "dance" songs. Not kidz-bop. Some examples: Walkin' on Sunshine, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, YMCA.

I am a children's librarian and before my programs I play music. Most of the songs have good dance beats. I like using songs that haven't been changed into "kid versions". Bonus points if a lot of parents out there know the song/words as well. Here is my current playlist:

Whip It - Devo
Shout - The Isley Brothers
Old Time Rock and Roll - Bob Seger
Yakety Yak - The Coasters
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
Walkin' on Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves
Footloose - Kenny Loggins
Celebration - Kool & the Gang
La Bamba - Ritchie Valens
I'm a Believer - Smash Mouth
YMCA - The Village People
Dancing Queen - Abba

I'm looking for specific song suggestions instead of whole albums or particular artists.
posted by morganannie to Media & Arts (29 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
"I Like To Move It" by Will.I.Am. Kids love this damn song.
posted by contessa at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2011

"Move your Feet" by Junior Senior
posted by vacapinta at 9:10 AM on July 20, 2011

Celebration -- Kool & The Gang
Lean on Me -- Bill Withers or Club Noveau
Fame --- Irene Cara
I Wanna Dance With Somebody --- Whitney Houston
1999 -- Prince
Holiday -- Madonna
Walk Like An Egyptian -- The Bangles
The Safety Dance --- Men Without Hats
Conga -- Miami Sound Machine
Footloose -- Kenny Loggins
Everybody Have Fun Tonight -- Wang Chung
We Got The Beat -- Go-Gos
Our House --- Madness
Mickey --- Toni Basil
Hot Hot Hot --- Buster Poindexter
Ghostbusters --- Ray Parker Jr.
The Loco-Motion -- Kylie Minogue
Don't Worry, Be Happy -- Bobby McFerrin

The 1980s are your friend.

I imagine some of these songs are better than others for your purposes, so I'll leave that determination to your discretion.
posted by zizzle at 9:12 AM on July 20, 2011

My Boy Lollipop
posted by essexjan at 9:15 AM on July 20, 2011

"Roam" or "Rock Lobster" by the B-52's.
"Who Let The Dogs Out" by the Baha Men (although the parents may lynch you).
"The Name Game" (aka "Shirley, Shirley, bo-birley, banana-fana fo-firley...") or "The Clapping Song" ("Three six nine, the goose drank wine, monkey chewed tobacco on the streetcar line...") by Shirley Ellis.
"Iko Iko" by The Dixie Cups. (Avoid that cover that they used in Rain Man -- not dancey enough.)
"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", the They Might Be Giants version.
"One Week" or "If I had A Million Dollars" by Barenaked Ladies.

posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 AM on July 20, 2011

I Gotta Feeling - the Black Eyed Peas
Cha Cha Slide - DJ Casper
You Should Be Dancing - the Bee Gees
Macarena - Los Del Rio
Gettin Jiggy Wit It - Will Smith
posted by fresh-rn at 9:45 AM on July 20, 2011

Pretty much anything by The Go! Team, e.g. Huddle Formation or T.O.R.N.A.D.O.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:56 AM on July 20, 2011

"Peaches" by The Presidents of the United States of America, written by Mefi's own Chris Ballew, aka Caspar Babypants.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:01 AM on July 20, 2011

Night Boat to Cairo - Madness. Absolutely wonderful for wild dancing
I Feel For You - Chaka Khan
Birdhouse In Your Soul - They Might Be Giants
posted by terrierhead at 10:07 AM on July 20, 2011

I think you need a little more hip hop, so I've cursorily checked for bad words and other verboten things,* and I think these are a few good, clean ones:

Apache - Sugarhill Gang
Ring Ring Ring - De La Soul
Body Movin' - Beastie Boys (Universal law: Kids love The Beastie Boys)
La Da Da - Biz Markie (Biz Markie has or recently had a segment on beatboxing on some kids' show, so I'm thinking kids might already know who he is.)

* You may want to re-check, obviously, because I am not good at that.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:09 AM on July 20, 2011

The Beatles: "Yellow Submarine", "All Together Now" (although the lyric "can I take my friend to bed" may rule this out), "Twist And Shout", "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da."

More Barenaked Ladies: "Grade 9," "The Ballad of Gordon."

I'm still working on this, by the way. I'm thinking a lot of Motown.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 AM on July 20, 2011

Go to the Mardi Gras - Professor Longhair
Everyday People - Sly and the Family Stone
Groove Is in the Heart - Dee-Lite

and, actually, my two-year old loves Talk Talk's It's My Life. Go figure.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:22 AM on July 20, 2011

Not so much Motown as I thought, so I'm just riffing...

"Dancing in the street," Martha and the Vandellas.
"Willie and the Hand Jive." (I can't remember the artist.)
"Shiny Happy People," REM.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2011

Every happy dancey playlist needs Bongo Bong. Seriously, there oughta be a law.

And Jackson 5. I Want You Back, ABC, Rockin' Robin.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2011

Hound Dog - Elvis
Respect - Aretha Franklin
I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
Stayin' Alive - Bee Gees (if "I get low and I get high" isn't too risqué—would have gone over my head as a kid)
Everybody Dance Now - C & C Music Factory
Ray of Light - Madonna
posted by Orinda at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2011

"Electric Boogie" - Marcia Griffiths
"Boom Boom Pow" - Black Eyed Peas
"Friday I'm In Love" - The Cure
"Pump Up The Volume" - Marrs
"Spotlight" - Madonna
"Cup of Life" - Ricky Martin
Would "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira be too risque?
posted by SisterHavana at 11:04 AM on July 20, 2011

Hoodoo Voodoo - Wilco
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:27 AM on July 20, 2011

I feel like a huge jerk for forgetting to mention this totally mandatory one!

Tightrope - Janelle Monae

Some bonuses, as long as I'm being a big multi-posting jerk:

Dance or Die - Janelle Monae
Hey Ya - Outkast (there is one line that says "wanna make you cumma" but I think there's a clean version that leaves that out.)
Party Hard - Andrew WK (He has a kids' show called Destroy Build Destroy, and really, the most subversive the song gets is saying stuff about not following rules, so balance that with how much kids love that song.)
Don't Upset the Rhythm - The Noisettes
Give up the Funk - Parliament
posted by ernielundquist at 11:30 AM on July 20, 2011

Love the suggestions! You're not a multi-posting jerk. Thanks a ton :)
posted by morganannie at 11:33 AM on July 20, 2011

Disney has a radio channel, which I think you can Pandora. I'd suggest that?
posted by xicana63 at 11:59 AM on July 20, 2011

Accidentally in Love - Counting Crows (which many of the kiddos might recognize from Shrek 2)
King of Spain - Moxy Fruvous
Dance - Twister Alley
Wake Up - Hilary Duff
Dancing on the Ceiling - Lionel Richie
posted by pineapple at 12:15 PM on July 20, 2011

No words, but fast, fun guitar: Rodrigo y Gabriela
posted by sunchai at 1:46 PM on July 20, 2011

One of baby ambrosia's boppy favorites has been "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc.
posted by ambrosia at 3:01 PM on July 20, 2011

My kids like dancing to Justice - D.A.N.C.E. which recalls the best of Jackson 5 (which I can wholeheartedly nth) but they also listen (and dance) to all sorts of bad rap music too, so I'm maybe not the best judge of kid-friendly...
posted by togdon at 3:24 PM on July 20, 2011

How can Groove is in the Heart not be here? How?
posted by Redhush at 5:02 PM on July 20, 2011

Karma Chameleon by Culture Club has been a hit at my toddler's music class.

A-Punk (Vampire Weekend), Do You Love Me (Guster), Just One Look (Doris Gray), are all current favorites.
posted by shrieking violet at 5:47 PM on July 20, 2011

Joy & Pain - Rob Bass
Here It Goes Again - OK Go
Firework (currently my friend's 4yo's absolute favorite song EVER) - Katy Perry
Summertime - DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
posted by AlisonM at 9:28 PM on July 20, 2011

Why Does the Sun Shine? by They Might be Giants
posted by jenmakes at 10:20 PM on July 20, 2011

Soooo late to this thread, but my guy likes Jump in the Line by Harry Belafonte (can't link YT at work, but it's the song at the very end of Beetlejuice).
posted by somanyamys at 5:46 AM on August 25, 2011

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