Music for adults that sounds like it was made for kids?
January 17, 2020 2:06 PM   Subscribe

What are some good pop, rock, etc. songs that are happy, whimsical, and/or very simple on their composition that I could listen to with my baby? Examples within.

My son is 5 months old and I have already grown a bit weary of “Wheels on the Bus” and its ilk. Obviously I will keep made-for-kids stuff in heavy rotation for him, but I am also trying to slide in some tunes I could enjoy too. What I’ve come up with so far:

- Bobby McFerrin “Don’t Worry Be Happy”
- Bob Marley “3 Little Birds”
- Jack Johnson “Banana Pancakes”
- Feist “1 2 3 4” and “Mushaboom”
- Grateful Dead “Touch of Grey” (I know that’s a weird one but something about that sound has always sounded sort of silly in a childlike way to me, even when I was a kid)
- Paul Simon “Call Me Al” (kind of same thing as above)

Looking for better-known material (any decade) that I would probably know but am just not thinking of (as opposed to wanting to discover more obscure stuff). Thanks in advance for helping to preserve my sanity.
posted by lovableiago to Media & Arts (58 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Every kid I've ever known has loved the Ramones.
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:09 PM on January 17, 2020 [7 favorites]




How about I'm Yours by Jason Mraz?
Jamming by Bob Marley is pretty simple.
Anything Belle and Sebastian would probably work too.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:13 PM on January 17, 2020


Jim Croce - Bad Bad Leroy Brown
posted by straw at 2:15 PM on January 17, 2020 [5 favorites]


They Might Be Giants - Flood (album)
posted by TwilightKid at 2:16 PM on January 17, 2020 [17 favorites]


Is Motown on the right track? There are at least a few Supremes songs that seem like good choices here.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:16 PM on January 17, 2020 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Rockin' Robin - Bobby Day

Yellow Submarine!
posted by Carouselle at 2:17 PM on January 17, 2020 [6 favorites]


I enjoyed Jack Johnson and also The Phoenix Foundation’s “Buffalo” for calming music when my kids were little. They Might Be Giants kids albums & their associated dvds are also amazing. (“Here come the ABCs” and “Here come the 123s”)
posted by slightlybewildered at 2:26 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]




Best answer: I really like singing/ playing pretty much anything by ABBA, The Beatles and The Beach Boys to my kid. Hooky melodies but a lot of other stuff going on to keep the grown ups interested!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:32 PM on January 17, 2020 [9 favorites]


REM - Happy Furry Monsters (Sesame Street guest appearance)
posted by momus_window at 2:34 PM on January 17, 2020 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Happy Song by Howard Cynon :-)
posted by MinPin at 2:36 PM on January 17, 2020


Best answer: Jackson 5 - ABC
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:39 PM on January 17, 2020 [4 favorites]


The Jason Mraz suggestion made me wonder how about Andy Grammer? Honey I'm Good or Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah) or Fresh Eyes?
posted by straw at 2:41 PM on January 17, 2020


Best answer: Ingrid Michaelson, in particular The Way I Am.
posted by ApathyGirl at 2:52 PM on January 17, 2020


Best answer: Harry Nilsson is great for this:

Gotta Get Up
I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City
Coconut (I was first introduced to this song via the Muppets, and in fact when I heard the Harry Nilsson original, I was convinced he had been covering a Muppets song rather than the other way around)

ELO, Mr. Blue Sky

Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:52 PM on January 17, 2020 [6 favorites]


Rag Mop by Lionel Hampton.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 2:55 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Barbara Ann! Lots of Beach Boys really but especially Barbara Ann. Always a toddler favorite to sing along with the ba-ba-ba's.
posted by potrzebie at 2:58 PM on January 17, 2020 [3 favorites]




early Beatles singles (greatest hits red stairwell compilation) I was raised on this stuff (please disregard how I turned out;)
posted by ovvl at 3:06 PM on January 17, 2020 [8 favorites]


Ramble on Rose by the Grateful Dead.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 3:06 PM on January 17, 2020


Mine like the New Pornographers a lot when she was a little one.
posted by gaspode at 3:09 PM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]


Best answer: Kinks - You Really Got Me
Don McClean - American Pie
Sam Cooke - Another Saturday Night
Beach Boys - Barbara Ann, Surfin' USA, California Girls, etc.
Doors - Hello, I Love You
Elton John - Benny and the Jets
Heart - Dog & Butterfly
Elvis Costello - Green Shirt, Oliver's Army
Buddy Holly - That'll Be the Day, Peggy Sue, Everyday, etc.
George Harrison- My Sweet Lord
Rolling Stones - Mother's Little Helper
Turtles - Happy Together
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Lookin' Out My Back Door
Steely Dan - Reelin' in the Years, Hey Nineteen
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - Sherry
Talking Heads - Totally Nude
Peter, Paul & Mary - Leaving on a Jet Plane
Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back Again
Proclaimers - 500 Miles
UB40 - Red Red Wine
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line, Tennessee Stud
Grateful Dead - Sugar Magnolia
Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
Noah and the Whale - 5 Years Time
posted by Redstart at 3:10 PM on January 17, 2020 [6 favorites]


These were songs I really liked to listen to during the under one-year phase:

The English version of Baby by Os Mutantes
The Yo La Tengo version of Friday I'm in Love
Real Love Baby by Father John Misty
Pretty Pimpin by Kurt Vile
Push It by Salt N Pepa

Uh, basically, I guess I liked things that said Baby or named the days of the week.
posted by vunder at 3:10 PM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]


Anyone Else but You— the Moldy Peaches

We’re Gonna Be Friends — White Stripes

Sgt Pepper (intro) — Beatles
posted by Rumple at 3:45 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]


Best answer: White Stripes - We Are Going to be Friends.
Madness - Our House.
Lots of Beatles tunes, but especially Yellow Submarine, Octopus' Garden and All Together Now.
Folky early 70s stuff like Cat Stevens and Puff the Magic Dragon.
The Cure - Love Cats.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:49 PM on January 17, 2020 [12 favorites]


Jukebox The Ghost - Good Day always reminded me of a kids song for some reason.
posted by Malleable at 4:25 PM on January 17, 2020


Soothing Sounds for Babies
And/or
Casper Babypants
posted by PistachioRoux at 4:30 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Jonathan Richman: Ice Cream Man, New England, I’m a Little Dinosaur, I’m a Little Airplane, and on & on.

Pete Seeger’s Big Rock Candy Mountain and his kids’ albums

Reggae is pretty good for rocking to.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 4:30 PM on January 17, 2020 [5 favorites]


Response by poster: Amazing suggestions! Thanks all; you warmed my heart on this cold winter day! Off to snuggle the baby and start building a playlist :)
posted by lovableiago at 5:16 PM on January 17, 2020


Best answer: When I was in a piano class we played Yael Naim's "New Soul" which was briefly popular, I think maybe on a commercial. It's simple enough that to my ear it almost sounds like a kids' song, very sweet and upbeat. To my ear, just short of cloying. I am not a kid person but this sprang to mind immediately as maybe a good possibility.
posted by less of course at 5:20 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]




The Ditty Bops

posted by annathea at 5:54 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Anything bossa nova eg Girl from Ipanema
Harry Belafonte
Parliament/Funkadelic
Too Many Zooz

Really, 99% of pop music that you like is great for kids under 1, and 90% is good for kids 1-5.
We listen to very little “made for kids” music at my house bc 95% is utter garbage, probably worse for kids than guzzling soda. One notable exception is Caspar Babypants (the former frontman of Presidents of the United States of America), whose music is genuinely enjoyable to many adults I know.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:01 PM on January 17, 2020 [4 favorites]


Best answer: Perhaps a bit flipped: Caspar Babypants is kids music we can stand listening over and over.

Otherwise, anything with bounce or pop. The Beatles, The Clash, Cyndi Lauper, Dolly Parton are all favorites here.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:02 PM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]


Soul Coughing had a certain playfulness: Uh, Zoom Zip + Down To This
posted by scruss at 6:04 PM on January 17, 2020


In the made-for-adults, remade for kids vein, there's the Rockabye Baby! collection, so that you can gently introduce your child to Pixies or Metallica or Bjork or whatever your thing is. Instrumental, so not really for sing-along so much.
posted by mumkin at 6:09 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]




Walking on Sunshine -- Katrina and the Waves.
posted by Dolley at 6:43 PM on January 17, 2020 [2 favorites]


The Playmates - Beep Beep
posted by Mitheral at 6:52 PM on January 17, 2020


Flaming Lips: Yoshmi Battles the Giant Robots,
Do You realize?
Lots of stuff from their catalog.

Dandy Warhols: I Like You
posted by effluvia at 7:30 PM on January 17, 2020 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Len: Steal My Sunshine
posted by effluvia at 7:43 PM on January 17, 2020 [4 favorites]


Rheostatics - Harmelodia
posted by unstrungharp at 8:04 PM on January 17, 2020


The Bangles: Walk Like an Egyptian
The Beatles: 8 Days a Week and most of their early stuff really
The Beach Boys: Barbara Ann, etc
Walking on Sunshine
If I Had a Million Dollars
Neil Sadaka: Calendar Girl
Some Elvis might work, like Rockin' Robin, Don't Be Cruel, Blue Suede Shoes, Teddy Bear
Lone Star: Walking in Memphsis (also by Elvis)
What about some New Kids on the Block? The Right Stuff, Hanging Tough, Step by Step, Cover Girl
And the 80s possibilities...


(I thought I had asked a question like this when I taught ESL, but I couldn't find it. There are other similar questions.
)
posted by kathrynm at 8:18 PM on January 17, 2020


I'm Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon to Your Star - The Boy Least Likely To

Moon Shadow - Cat Stevens

maybe also Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros?
posted by gursky at 8:21 PM on January 17, 2020


Best answer: More Beatles: "Blackbird," "Ob-la-di Ob-la-da"
More Beach Boys: "Sloop John B"
The Foundations: "Build Me Up Buttercup"
Pete Seeger: "Little Boxes"
From Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: "Joseph's Coat of Many Colors"
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:46 PM on January 17, 2020 [1 favorite]


When my kid was that age I remember trying lots of different musical styles on him to see what seemed to capture his interest. Of all things, close harmony seemed to grab him, so I played quite a bit of barbershop music around that time. It’s bouncy and tuneful and not too intense.

By the time he was walking he also liked Queen, which I’d picked as something that was the intersection between the close harmony and music I was willing to listen to all day long. As he got older we all liked all They Might Be Giants; their kid albums and their adult albums have a lot of overlap.

My husband played him a lot of “person and a guitar” style folk music when he was tiny, which is a similar structure to a lot of kid’s albums minus the gratingness.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:28 AM on January 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


As suggested, Cyndi Lauper, like Girls Just Want To Have Fun.

Wham! - Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go

For the Go-Go's also - We Got The Beat

Modern English - I Melt With You

Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World

As alluded to above, check out the "folk revival" artists like The Weavers (Goodnight, Irene) and Peter Paul & Mary.
posted by gudrun at 8:16 AM on January 18, 2020 [1 favorite]


Craig Ferguson et al perform Istanbul Speaking of They Might Be Giants: I play this YouTube clip for my college age art students and they love it, but it might be too suggestive for a small child. The song is still great, though.
posted by effluvia at 8:21 AM on January 18, 2020


Billy Bragg & Wilco- w. Natalie Merchant "I Was Born"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaYhI-GvxUw

Billy Bragg & Wilco-"Hoodoo Voodoo" from "Mermaid Avenue"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ElM0KiJrw8&list=PLVhI316mzo4xT8Z2WssvC4YmC_rr4bDts&index=5
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 8:32 AM on January 18, 2020


I just saw there's some Muppet's stuff on Spotify.
posted by kathrynm at 9:16 AM on January 18, 2020


I loved rocking out with my baby to "And She Was" by the Talking Heads, which you can't convince me wasn't written for kids.
posted by Mchelly at 4:53 PM on January 18, 2020 [2 favorites]


Violent Femmes and Oingo Boingo.
posted by zengargoyle at 5:47 PM on January 18, 2020


Mika
posted by bunderful at 7:19 PM on January 18, 2020


Best answer: Ben Lee - Catch My Disease
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 5:00 AM on January 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


Pop Muzik by M

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep by Mac and Katie Kissoon

Little Willy by Sweet
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:43 AM on January 19, 2020


Response by poster: Again, all marvelous suggestions—just marked as best the ones that I thought really encompasses the childlike element that I struggled to describe in my question. Thanks again.
posted by lovableiago at 12:13 PM on January 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


Almost anything by Carly Rae Jepsen, but specifically Bucket, off Tug of War.
posted by cCranium at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2020


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