Every parent has been there. You’re stuck in the car for hours with the kids and they insist on listening to nothing but Raffi.
This Babble list of car songs — 25 adult tunes that will definitely appeal to children — is designed to resolve that problem. Some of the songs writer Lindsay Armstrong recommends may already be in your regular rotation (“1 2 3 4″ by Feist, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley), but others may sound fresh to both you and the kids (“New Shoes” by Paolo Nutini, maybe?). Also, I can’t stress this enough: God bless Armstrong for including Ted Leo’s cover of “Six Months in a Leaky Boat.”
To keep the music flowing, I’ve got a few more additional recommendations. Think of them as the special hidden tracks on this already solid mix of music.
“Superman” — R.E.M.: Armstrong recommends one catchy R.E.M. tune (“Shiny Happy People”); here’s another (technically a cover) with a chorus kids won’t be able to resist singing along with.
“We’re Going to Be Friends” — The White Stripes: Not only a great song to hear in the car, but a perfect one for preparing the little ones to go back to school.
“Rapper’s Delight” — Sugarhill Gang: Classic, infectious hip-hop + references to eating gross food and taking kaopectate = a track kids will love. You *may* want to go with the abbreviated single version, though, since the original “Delight” lasts for more than 14 minutes.
“Fins” — Jimmy Buffett: The perfect track for kids who have developed a Discovery Channel-inspired shark fixation. Added bonus: they can make the “fins to the left, fins to the right” hand gestures from the comfort of their own car seats.
“Me, Myself and I” — De La Soul: Most kids think, on some level, that the world revolves around them. So why not celebrate that self-involvement with this high-spirited hip-hop favorite?
“Boom Boom Pow” — The Black-Eyed Peas: I can’t decide whether I loathe this song or love it. But I know this: you’ll be hearing your sons and daughters shout, “I like that boom boom pow” long after the track finishes.
“Someday, Someway” — Marshall Crenshaw: Many ’80s artists turned out catchy power pop that can easily be embraced by kids (Squeeze and Joe Jackson among them). But I like this Crenshaw track because the lyrics also double as a plea from frustrated parents: “I can’t stand to see you sad/I can’t bear to hear you cry/If you can’t tell me what you need/All I can do is wonder why.”
“Hey Ya” — Outkast: This might be one of the most perfect songs of the decade. A chorus that simply repeats the words “hey ya” and involves lots of hand clapping? Couldn’t be more perfect for toddlers, too. After you turn off the music and get the kids out of the car, give them an added treat: bring up good ‘ol “Hey Ya” Charlie Brown on YouTube.
Got more kid-and-adult-friendly tunes to recommend? Add your picks in the comments.