2019 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to the second annual Kids Rhythm and Rock Children’s Music Roundup! Oh what a year 2019 was for children’s music with a cornucopia of sounds, fantastic messages and moments of fun combining for a true wealth of musical riches, Whether you check the CDs out from the library or listen to them on your favorite streaming service, all of the albums below are definitely worth a listen (or two, or three…). 

 

Best Animal Album Covers
Come for the covers, stay for the amazing music!
Swamp Romp Performed by Johnette Downing with Scott Billington   
Winterland Performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers

 

 

Be Mindful, Be Kind     

   

 

 

 

The Love Performed by Alphabet Rockers
Kindred Performed by Renee & Friends
Under the Big Umbrella Performed by Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype Performed by Jon Samson

 

Unique Musical Stylings

    

 

 

 

Finding Friends Far From Home: A Journey with Clara Net Performed by Oran Etkin
Shake It and Break It Performed by Randy Kaplan
Earworm Performed by Sean McCollough

 

Based on a Podcast

 

Backstroke Raptor Performed by The Story Pirates

 

 

 Regional Superstars You Should Know

                                                                         

 

 

 

Put Your Arms in the Air Performed by Cowboy Andy (based in Montana) 
Kith & Kin Performed by Duke Otherwise (based in Wisconsin)   

 

Bilingual/Spanish Albums

          

 

 

 

Canta las Letras Performed by 123 Andrés
Love is Te Quiero Performed by Alina Celeste
Buenos Diaz Performed by The Lucky Band
En la Radio Performed by Nathalia

 

We Only Have One Earth
These albums each contain several songs that celebrate the flora and fauna on this rock we call home. 

     

 

 

 

Can You Feel It? Performed by Jessa Campbell & the Saplings
It Takes a Village Performed by Ginalina
Positronic Performed by Marsha and the Positrons

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Dads

      

 

 

 

Which One Am I? Performed by Howie D
Growing Up Performed by Josh Lovelace

 

The Long and the Short of It

      

 

 

 

All I Do is Hop Performed by Grin Brigade (29 tracks)
The Robot Performed by Ants Ants Ants (4 tracks)

 

Thank You, and Goodnight!

Album cover for Now That We're Home

 

Now That We’re Home: Lullabies & Love Songs Performed by KB Whirly

Video Spotlight – “Marley Sitting On A Pumpkin Seed” Performed by Simon Stanley

Listening to “Marley Sitting on a Pumpkin Seed” has had me thinking a lot about the role that pumpkins have played in my life. Growing up, pumpkins were a big deal at our house. We would grow our own pumpkins, carve them for Halloween and the very next day my mom would cook them down and freeze the pumpkin to be used for pies at Thanksgiving and bread at Christmas. While many folks around us would bake their pumpkin seeds to eat as a snack, we would dry ours out to plant the following year.

As an adult, sometimes we grow our own pumpkins and other times, like this year, we go to a local pumpkin farm and pick some out to take home. Now, rather than carve our pumpkins, we sit them in the front yard and project videos of singing jack o’lanterns on them during Halloween and use them as decoration leading up to Thanksgiving. This November though, the squirrels had a different plan and within two weeks post-Halloween had eaten so much from the inside of the pumpkins that they collapsed in on themselves (the pumpkins, not the squirrels). My husband decided to put the fate of the pumpkins in Mother Nature’s hands and dumped the whole pulpy mess in the garden to see if any of the seeds will surprise us next summer by taking root all on their own. 

In Simon Stanley’s recently released bluegrass-infused single, “Marley Sitting on a Pumpkin Seed,” a little tiny girl is sitting on a seed while listening to the music blowing in the breeze. This lyrical video features a lovely image of Marley, created by Auckland designer Rebecca Ter Borg. In the song, Marley is introduced to various instruments while the melody encourages viewers to clap and tap along. Listening to this upbeat ditty, I just close my eyes and imagine that there is a tiny Marley or two enjoying my pumpkin seeds and the music in the leaves as they continue to fall from the trees. “Marley Sitting on a Pumpkin Seed” is the perfect way to bid fall farewell.

 

 

2020 Best Children’s Album GRAMMY Nominees

The 62nd annual GRAMMY nominees were announced yesterday. To be eligible for the 2020 awards, an album had to be released between October 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019. This year’s selection of nominees for best children’s album includes a few familiar faces as well as the introduction of some newbies to the GRAMMY competition. (Special shout out to Kaitlin McGaw for being the only female lead performer in this year’s crop of nominees!) The GRAMMY awards will be announced on Sunday, January 26.

Ageless Songs for the Child Archetype performed by Jon Samson

Flying High! Performed by Caspar Babypants

I Love Rainy Days performed by Daniel Tashian

The Love Performed by Alphabet Rockers

Winterland Performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers

Video Premiere – “Hot Sauce” performed by Koo Koo Kanga Roo

If you’re not familiar with the gold sneakers wearing best friends Bryan and Neil, the dynamic duo behind Koo Koo Kanga Roo, then you’ve been missing out. I was first introduced to them a little over three years ago. My first thought was, “These guys are children’s performers?” Quickly followed by, “These guys are children’s performers!” Having traveled the country with everything from Yo Gabba Gabba Live to the Vans Warped Tour, Koo Koo Kanga Roo employs pumping dance beats and crazy, goofy, always entertaining lyrics that will appeal to children of all ages.  Whether they are singing about glitter, the turkey wobble, or bubble wrap, the duo’s listeners can always be sure that they are in for a good time. The fun doesn’t end with the music though. Koo Koo Kanga Roo takes their songs to new levels with innovative videos that bring the lyrics to life.

In this regard, the video for Koo Koo Kanga Roo’s newest song does not disappoint. Hot sauce is something that most people either love or hate. This video however, with sizzling visuals and a thumping hook, manages to bridge that divide and make it a condiment everyone can enjoy. So tie on your sneakers, clear the dance floor and get ready to drink in some hot sauce!

Spread a Little Kindness Today

November 13 is World Kindness Day. Established in 1998, World Kindness Day is celebrated around the globe – from the US to Japan and Nigeria to the United Arab Emirates. Acts of kindness, both big and small, are encouraged as a symbol of the things that we, as a global community, can accomplish if we are good to one another. One of those small acts that is easy to do no matter your age, is to wear a cardigan. This year, in honor of Mister Rogers and the message of kindness that he spread, Pittsburgh TV station WQED is encouraging everyone to grab my favorite kind of sweater, take a picture and tag it #CardiganDay.

Don’t let your celebration of World Kindness Day end with a sweater. Take a listen to “Drop in the Bucket,” the newest song from Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could. Filled with suggestions on easy ways that young people can be kind to one another, take inspiration from the song and add a drop of kindness to your bucket as we work together to make every day in the neighborhood beautiful.

Fids and Kamily Awards 2019

It’s that time of year again. Time for the “Best of…” lists to start appearing. First up in the land of children’s music is the 14th annual Fids & Kamily Music Awards. Voted on by a stellar collection of folks familiar with the fantastic offerings from the children’s music industry, this list of the Top 12 albums of 2019 for kids and families is a list of “must haves” for every collection. Don’t forget to take a look at the Honorable mentions, they are great ones to have as well. Keep an eye out in the next couple of weeks for our Kids Rhythm and Rock best of the year list as well. Also on the horizon, the GRAMMY nominations for Best Children’s Album on November 20, followed shortly thereafter by School Library Journal’s “10 Best Children’s Albums.” Are there any albums you wished had made the Fids and Kamily 2019 list?

Song Premiere – “Some Things I Don’t Understand” performed by Tom Bergeron

Thank You Mister Rogers: Music & Memories is a tribute to the incomparable Fred Rogers. Featuring twelve of the over 200 songs that Rogers wrote during his lifetime and performed by a wide variety of stars from yesterday and today, this album is filled with nostalgia for those who spent their formative years wishing they could visit that most famous of neighborhoods.  Some Things I Don’t Understand” was originally performed by Mister Rogers in episode 1101: Death of a Goldfish (1970). During the episode, Mister Rogers discovers that one of his goldfish has died. Throughout the episode, he demonstrates ways to deal with grief including acknowledging that it is ok to be sad, and the importance of sharing happy memories of those you lose. The episode concludes with “Some Things I Don’t Understand” which emphasizes the importance of talking about your feelings when you are happy, sad, mad, or just don’t understand.

This new version of “Some Things I Don’t Understand” is performed by Tom Bergeron. Initially Bergeron, the former host of America’s Funniest Home Videos and current host of Dancing with the Stars, was brought on board as the host and narrator of the project that included music and interviews with fans of Mister Rogers. However, with so many artists interested in participating in the project, it soon turned into a full-length musical tribute album. Luckily, it turns out that in addition to his hosting skills, Bergeron also is a delightful crooner.

Originally performed with much gravitas by Fred Rogers, Bergeron’s version of “Some Things I Don’t Understand” maintains all of the original lyrics but is given an updated jazzy feel that still treats the wonderances seriously, while giving them a more lighthearted melody to be posed against. Bergeron sets the perfect tone of a child’s inquisitive mind with his lively lyrics that move from topic to topic, but much like Mister Rogers, never just gives us the answers. “Some Things I Don’t Understand” also includes a rather impressive whistling solo by Bergeron. As the album’s producer, Dennis Scott, tells it, “I learned that not only did Tom enjoy singing, but he is an outstanding whistler. So at the session we tried having him do a jazz flavored whistling solo. Everyone liked it so much that it became the centerpiece of the song. ”

Thank you Mister Rogers, and thank you Tom Bergeron for giving us this wonderful tune. Please take a listen to “Some Things I Don’t Understand” below. Thank You Mister Rogers: Music & Memories is out this Friday, October 25. Watch a preview for the album here. To learn more about the project, or to share a memory of Mister Rogers, visit www.thankyoumisterrogers.com.

Kick-off the Halloween Season with “Flick of My Wrist”

Full disclosure – Halloween is kind of a big deal at my house. New decorations started arriving in June this year. First it was a couple of blow mold black cats in the living room, then it was black cat pumpkin figures peering from unexpected places (and often getting mistaken for our actual black cat) when the Grandin Road fall catalog appeared in July. As we slowly cruised into autumn, it was a few Halloween goodies from the local grocery store on the kitchen table soon to be followed by bowls and plates and platters as prices were slashed to make room on store shelves for the Christmas decorations. Plans are being made for our annual Halloween costume party with evening discussions often surrounding what the lighting should look like, what theme we should go with throughout the house this time, and what creepy food we should serve. And then there’s the outside decorations. Did I mention that work on the light show began back in January? January!! It’s going to be amazing. 

Decorations aren’t the only thing essential to Halloween. So is a good soundtrack. After all these years of celebrating All Hallows Eve, I have a pretty prolific collection of Halloween themed music, but as with any holiday, there is always room for more. So what better way to start off the spookiest of seasons than with a brand new song from Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats? Released last Friday, “Flick of My Wrist” is a fantastically orchestrated tune that allows Kalantari’s rollicking vocals to dance around the lyrics as they describe the exploits of a young witch whose use of her power leads to unexpected results. It would be absolutely ghastly if you dared to leave “Flick of My Wrist” off of your Halloween playlist! Take a listen, and Happy Haunting!

Video Spotlight – “Dog Alphabet Song” performed by Grin Brigade

When he’s not busy these days being part of the entertaining duo Randy & Dave, Dave Kinnoin and a whole host of friends (including Randy Sharp and Red Grammer) are busy making music as Grin Brigade. The group’s second album, All I Do Is Hop, is filled with 29 songs that cover an incredibly wide range of topics. One of those tracks is the “Dog Alphabet Song.” While the tune is fun to listen to, there’s nothing quite like watching the video that goes along with it. The dog days of summer may already feel like distant memories, but this video featuring dogs of every shape, size and breed, will be the uplifting hit that your fall needs. Brighten any day by watching with the young dog and animal lovers in your life.  Can’t catch all the types of dogs as they go by? Check out the lyrics (and chords if you want to try playing it yourself!) here.  Enjoy!

2019 Latin GRAMMY Nominees

This morning the nominees for the 20th Annual Latin GRAMMY awards were announced. The nominees in the Best Latin Children’s Album category are a diverse and delightful group. Be sure to try the albums below before the winner is announced on November 14.

Luces, Cámara, Accion performed by Claraluna

¡Alegría! performed by Sonia De Los Santos

Buenos Diaz performed by The Lucky Band

Bim Bom Bam! performed by Payasitas Nifu Nifa

Canta las Letras performed by 123 Andrés

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