It was a fabulous year for children’s music, a genre that has grown substantially in diversity and inclusivity over the last decade. From cooing newborns to tweeners impetuously spreading their wings, every age group now benefits from a wealth of options tailored specifically for it. Whether you’re a parent looking for the big, hot releases of 2015 or those under-the-radar titles, our annual children’s music roundup offers plenty for everybody.
It should come as little surprise to any parent that Kidz Bop and Disney had massive years. Unleashing a handful of titles over the last 12 months, Kidz Bop’s series of pop covers is a real juggernaut. Certainly not to be missed is the wildly bouncy version of David Guetta and Nicki Minaj’s “Hey Mama” found on Kidz Bop 30. It’s guaranteed to turn the playroom into a nightclub. Disney also crossed-over to the pop market with We Love Disney, a well-programmed mix of soundtrack nuggets tackled by the likes to Jessie J, Fall Out Boy, Kacey Musgraves and many more stars. They also unveiled Descendants, a riveting fantasy flick geared towards young teens. The soundtrack is packed with everything from Latin-flavored dance-pop to traditional musical fare.
A swiftly expanding sub-genre that blends together singer/songwriter fare, indie cool and lyrical themes often geared toward children ages 10 and under, Kindie rock produced a slew of awesome titles this year. Laurie Berkner’s Favorite Classic Kids’ Songs, from the prolific and utterly infectious songbird, will appeal to parents who want to expose their tykes to folk-oriented sounds from around the globe. After taking a break from children’s music for several years, They Might Be Giants returned with Why?, a bubbly set geared toward parents who were raised on ’90s alt-pop. Another must-hear is the touching Deer Sounds courtesy of songwriting whiz Linda Perry and her wife Sara Gilbert. The tunes are phenomenal: simple and uplifting, yet exquisitely crafted and subtle. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing a lot more from the duo in the future. Speaking of fine craftsmanship, the incomparable Caspar Babypants (Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America) put together Beatles Baby!, a stupendous batch of covers geared toward wee little mop tops. Ballew actually tackles weirdo psych-rocker “Rain,” which should win him major points from music snobs.
Lastly, 2015 witnessed the return of some of the most beloved franchises in the history of children’s entertainment. In November, the soundtrack to the first new Peanuts movie in 35 years became a monster smash. Moroever, the first season of The Muppets (a liberal reimagining of the music-oriented Muppet Show from the late ’70s), debuted in September. And let’s not forget the mighty Star Wars, The Force Awakens, the first installment of the new trilogy, has turned a new generation of kids on to the greatest space fantasy of all time.