Though kids love Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato and Justin Beiber, some lyrics may be a little edgy or mature for them. The children's music world has upped their game and released some incredibly cool, fun CDs that are entertaining for both children and adults. Prices vary depending on download or CD option.
"Blue Skies, Sunny Days" by Frances England.
San Francisco's Frances England wanted a loose, relaxed vibe on this cool summer CD. She enlisted Jack Johnson's guitar player Dan Lebowitz and producer Dean Jones and aimed for what's needed now — optimistic messages and an easy, laid-back vibe — with a nod to parents about lightening their load.
From road trip ode "Carefree" to a nature-loving reminder called "Into the Wild" to a zippy cover of the Cat Stevens' classic "If You Want to Sing Out," England makes sure to sing tunes that let kids know it's always possible to find a new path and meet life's challenges. Plus, it's a really, really fun way to make time pass in a car or living room. Grammy-nominated England sure knows how to capture and express the innocent beauty of childhood.
"We Are One" from Animal Farm.
Animal Farm, a talented quartet of musician educators, has returned after their critically praised debut album, "Run Free," to bring listeners together using animal characters. From songs about a baby bat afraid of the dark to a monkey witnessing deforestation, the rangy musicians aim to explore social-emotional learning and community through the eyes of animals. Their songs are fun, too, with influences of rock, jazz, folk, Klezmer, Afro-pop, Latin and Tin Pan Alley, encouraging kids to sing along or shout animal noises.
Songs include "Awesome Possum," the tale of a critter who saves his family from a wolf by breaking into dance; salsa-driven "Cranky Pants," which advocates channeling grumpy feelings into animal noise and "Snow Bird," about a penguin with a "yearnin' to roam." Subtle, thoughtful lessons appear, which makes "We Are One," a wonderfully conscientious CD.
"Splash and Bubbles: Rhythm of the Reef," The Jim Henson Company.
Sixteen favorite watery songs from the PBS TV show "Splash and Bubbles," by the Jim Henson Company, is a fantastic summer beach album, with funky, Motown-inspired tunes. These "Songs from Season One," exemplify the positive, healthy expression of emotions and laughs while teaching preschoolers about marine science and personal development. With an all-pro cast of talent, the album's lead track, "Splash and Bubbles Theme Song," has already won an award. Other songs include "Catch a Current," "Keep it Clean," "And So We Celebrate (Coral Day)," and 19 others.
"I Am Your Food" by Gunnar Madsen; Spot Records.
Gunnar Madsen was an early voice in children's music, and a founding member of the a capella group "The Bobs." His quirky songwriting and wide-ranging musical interests make perfectly cool, fun, intelligent children's tunes. "I Am Your Food" includes guest vocals from Frances England, Bill Harley and Justin Roberts and is a funny, high-quality exploration of edibles using a wide range of music. From "Divine Bovines," sung from the perspective of a dairy cow, to the dreamy "City of Sardines" and warning tune "Too Fast Food," "I Am Your Food" is great music and makes for lots of family fun while cooking or driving to restaurants. A plus plus!
"Thumb Wrestling Champions" by the Green Orbs.
The debut album from a brother and sister who clearly relish the wacky, "Thumb Wrestling Champions" hits the ground running with absurdity, about a contest broken up by Abraham Lincoln. Dance number "The Suction Cup Shuffle" has a blazing melodic lead; and jazzy "Tips from Toby the Turtle" is a groovy advice column. Other uber-cool, funky fun tunes include the witty "Flower in My Shower," "Robert Broccoli," done up as a goofy waltz, and "Twelve Steps to Eating Your Veggies," a tongue-in-cheek tune all kids can relate to. Super Cool!
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.