Top 50 Baby Music Albums
Humans are hardwired to love music. It holds a place in us that almost nothing else can reach. As anyone who has seen a grin of delight spread across a listening baby's face knows, there's just something simple and profound about our relationship with sound. And while it's true that the littlest babies don't much care what's playing, as time goes on, they start to listen, move, and sing along (suddenly making half our old music collection off limits for the next 16 years). Luckily we live in a fertile time for kids' music, with rereleases of classic recordings, scores of talented newcomers making charming records, and seemingly every third rocker from the '90s inspired to settle down and create great children's music of their own. Read More ↓
For Babble's first Top 50 Baby Music Albums, we chose recordings that could grow up with babies rather than becoming obsolete as soon as the babies are old enough to crawl away from the stereo. This also meant we stretched the definition of "baby" into the toddler years. Since you may be hearing some of these songs fifty, a hundred, a thousand times, we chose with parental sanity in mind and included a category for the best albums for adults that also work for babies. With music so intimately wrapped up with our emotional lives, we're sure to have made choices you'll disagree with, so feel free to nominate any gems we missed. -Colin Murphy
12 / 50
Family Dance | Dan Zanes and Friends
A member of the rockers-gone-parental set, multi-instrumentalist Dan Zanes got his start as singer-guitarist for ’80s garage rowdies the Del Fuegos and has put his music world connections to good use in lining up guest artists (including Roseanne Cash, Loudon Wainright III, Sandra Bernhard, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, and the Kronos Quartet) for the children’s records he has been putting out for more than a decade.
Family Dance is the second of some half-dozen children’s albums by Zanes and his Brooklyn-based musical collective. Aptly titled, this loose, rootsy collection of tunes can’t help but get the whole family up and hopping. The 15 largely acoustic numbers are drawn from musical traditions across the world. More than half the songs are traditionals themselves, though the arrangements don’t necessarily reflect the songs’ origins. Some of the most enjoyable combine musical and lyrical elements in completely unexpected ways, like a “Hokey Pokey” that’s a strange mix of zydeco and acoustic reggae (featuring Father Goose, or Rankin Don as he’s known in his guise as a Jamaican dancehall DJ). “Yo-Yo Sweet Yo-Yo,” one of several originals not penned by Zanes, is a sweet bilingual round accompanied by a cappella salsa orchestra and beatbox, complete with rap breakdown. Other tunes are more orthodox interpretations, but all have an infectious groove and a gentle humor that doesn’t depend on an understanding of the lyrics. As such, this is a great album to enjoy with the littlest ones, with plenty for them to keep discovering musically and lyrically as they grow.
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