Kid-specific music is nothing new. I remember listening to Raffi when I was little, before my parents felt I was “old enough” to “understand” their music, which included the likes of Queen and ABBA. These days, bands like Australia’s The Wiggles are popular with young ears. As a music obsessive, I honestly don’t think it’s necessary to keep children away from popular music, as long as the lyrics and subject matter are suitable.

This week’s playlist consists of popular songs that road-tripping families can enjoy together. All of these selections have enjoyed significant popularity but are kid-safe and catchy enough to get your little ones bopping in their car seats.

Fireflies – Owl City

Pop music doesn’t get more kid-friendly than this Owl City song, from the beepy synth parts, to Adam Young’s child-like voice as he sings about hugs from lightning bugs. For even bigger smiles, check out the clever video (; its more than 55 million views on YouTube are an indication of how popular this song became after its 2009 release on the Ocean Eyes record.
Buy: iTunes | Puretracks

Rockin’ the Suburbs (Over the Hedge version) – Ben Folds

Folds adapted his slightly angry and fairly profane song for the animated movie Over The Hedge, proving that his lyrical talent shines even when writing for a junior audience. Teens in particular will find this one amusing with lines like “We’re rocking the suburbs/Around the block just one more time/We’re rocking the suburbs/Cause I can’t tell which house is mine.” Parents, meanwhile, will be amused by William Shatner’s suburban-everyman rant in the middle section. Listen to the song here; the Over the Hedge version doesn’t appear to available to buy online, so finding a hard copy of the movie soundtrack is your best bet.
Buy: iTunes | Puretracks

When I’m Up – Great Big Sea

By now I’m sure many parents have introduced their kids to the joyful noises made by Newfoundland’s most famous sons, but just in case you haven’t, this song is a great place to start. It doesn’t get more buoyant than this piece from GBS’s record Play. The exuberant bodhran-playing and Sean McCann’s howling vocals that ramp up the song again after a near-whispered chorus will surprise and delight kids of all ages.
Buy: iTunes | Puretracks

Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn and John

This Swedish trio goes by a horribly uncreative name, but its common abbreviation – PB&J – is also a favourite meal for many children. The kid-friendly hook here is the whistled bit that punctuates the choruses and verses. The dead-simple melody doesn’t hurt, either.
Buy: iTunes | Puretracks

1234 – Feist

“1,2,3,4 monsters walking ‘cross the floor…” is the first line in the Sesame Street version of this 2007 Feist song. This was the second time the tune had appeared on television, having been used in an Apple iPod commercial shortly after its release on Feist’s album, The Reminder. The song seems a natural fit for Sesame Street, plus there’s a cute video full of fuzzy Muppets. However, even Feist’s original version is sweet and poppy, so if you’ve already got this album in your collection, throw it on for the kids and see what they think. The link below is to the original album version; hear it as it appeared on Sesame Street here.
Buy: iTunes | Puretracks

Connect with