2020 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s third annual Children’s Music Roundup! For those of you new to the blog, each year I compile a list of my favorite albums, then organize them by categories that change from year-to-year. Normally I would have had this list up by the middle of December, but 2020 being 2020, it threw a last minute curveball that delayed things a bit.

The past year was a time filled with incredible challenges for children’s music. The pandemic found performers having to completely redefine how they brought their music to the masses, racial and social justice came to the forefront, and the GRAMMY controversy spurred the children’s community to action. Through it all though, one constant remained – children’s music continued to grow in ways that left listeners enthralled, enriched, and entertained. So let’s say hello to 2021 by taking a look back at the year that was in Children’s music. Don’t see your favorites in the list below? Add them in the comments!

Note: There has been a lot of discussion in the past few weeks regarding albums by BIPOC performers. I have denoted those albums with an (**). 

Wide World of Music

Fiesta Global performed by Flor Bromley**

Live in LA performed by Aaron Nigel Smith & 1 World Chorus**

Songs Across the Pond performed by David Gibb and Brady Rymer

Unhurried Journey performed by Elena Moon Park**

¡Muévete! performed by José-Luis Orozco**

Let the Good Times Roll

Giggle and Burp Ballet performed by Randy & Dave

Kokowanda Bay performed by Ruth and Emilia

Cats Sit on You performed by The Story Pirates

Camping with Dads performed by Peter Alsop

For the Love of Dads

D.a.d performed by Pierce Freelon**

Wild Life performed by Wild Life

Songs with My Daughters performed by Elliott Park

With a Little Help from My Friends

Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo & Jeff Moss performed by Rena Strober and Friends

All The Ladies performed by Joanie Leeds (and friends)

Beautiful Beats

Hey Big World performed by Wendy & DB**

Night Life performed by Sara Lovell

It’s Never Too Early

Be the Change performed by SaulPaul**

Backyard Bop performed by Red Yarn

Be a Pain: An Album for Young (and Old) Leaders performed by Alastair Moock & Friends

Double Duty – Artists who were also authors in 2020

Una Idea Tengo Yo performed by 123 Andrés /Hello Friend, Hola Amigo by 123 Andrés**

Small But Mighty performed by Ginalina/The Mighty River by Ginalina**

Good Foot performed by Jazzy Ash/Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons by Ashli St. Amant (Jazzy Ash)**

Rockin’ Rhythms

Hi-Ya! performed by Go Banana Go!

Avocado performed by Rolie Polie Guacamole

Never Mind the Blocks, Here’s Jumpin’ Jamie performed by Jumpin’ Jamie

I’m an Optimist performed by Dog on Fleas

The Short and the Long of It

Honey performed by Frances England (6 songs, 15 minutes)

Awesome! performed by Jesse Jukebox (6 songs, 16 minutes)

Songs for Singin’ performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers (27 songs, 70 minutes)

Life on a Trampoline performed by Randy & Dave

I have to admit, I’m really digging the trend of the story song. And singer/songwriters Randy Sharp and Dave Kinnoin are experts at it. On their second album together, Life on a Trampoline, they tell such quirky stories such as ” Enjoy It While You Can” about a family who works in a cannery, “Last Time I Was Here” about a good-natured child who accidentally causes some pretty big mishaps and “A Weird Thing Happened” about the strange experience a child has when his ball goes over the fence.

Many of the songs on the album are silly ones, but others like the fantastic “Squadoosh” and “We Don’t Share” go a little deeper. “Squadoosh” is the perfect song to share with children who are afraid of the dark or convinced that a scary monster is hiding in their closet. In this song, the child’s fears are put to rest when the light is turned on because Squadoosh is an entirely different kind of monster. “Zilch, zip, zero-nada’s all he’s made of. He’s nothin’, and nothin’s nothin’ to be afraid of at all.” In “We Don’t Share” the child tells her sibling/friend about all the wonderful things that might be missed out on in the future because the friend won’t share things like a big piece of pie or the remote with her.

All twelve songs on this album are engaging with songs like “Semolina” being a good jumping off point for discussions about nutrition, foods from around the world or a story starter about inanimate things. Containing a mash-up of musical genres, multi-layered lyrics and sophisticated instrumentation, Life on a Trampoline is a delight that listeners young and old will want to hear again and again.

**Note for all you musicians out there, the liner notes to Life on a Trampoline contain all of the lyrics AND chord charts for each song.