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
30 / 50
Old Timey Songs for Children | New Lost City Ramblers
Old Timey Songs for Children’s Rankings
Based on simple vocal harmonies and stripped-down accompaniment on guitar, banjo, or fiddle, the emphasis of this collection of 16 short folk songs is on memorable refrains and narratives rather than on instrumental virtuosity. What results is a perfect album for kids to listen and sing along to. A modern comparison might be to the music that inspired and made up the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?, although the sound of this 1959 album is even more rustic and old fashioned. Lush, dynamic, and multilayered it is not.
The New Lost City Ramblers were a group of accomplished New York musicians dedicated to chronicling American folk traditions, especially those of the Anglo-American South and the Depression era. While technically still performing today, the trio was most active during the Folk Revival of the 1950s and ’60s. Unlike their contemporaries in the New York City folk scene who played traditional material in a more sanitized modern style, the Ramblers concentrated on unearthing songs from the earliest recorded examples of rural American folk music and recreating them as faithfully as possible.
What makes the album great for everyone is that there’s nothing specifically “childish” about most of the songs, despite the collection’s title. They’re not nursery rhymes or geared toward the consumption habits of today’s toddlers. Instead they’re documents of everyday life in a different era, one that was largely rural and bound to the land and the seasons (plus a little suspicious of strangers, to be honest). Beyond being merely memorable and singable, the odd little songs on this album are great discussion starters for inquisitive kids, and sharp-eared listeners will recognize many elements that made their way into modern popular music.
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