This year has seen a lot of "quirky" kids' music, wherein the sweet-voiced folkies of the past were replaced by growling rocker moms and clear, intimate harmonies. Electronic and tech-heavy sounds were the hallmark of efforts from They Might Be Giants and Robbert Bobbert, aimed at kids who are comfortable with such audio from birth. Artists such as Lunch Money, King Pajama and Rocknoceros created songs whose kid-centric themes (love of the library, train rides, ice cream) provide a clue to their intended audience, since the songs themselves work for everyone. The quality was high this year, with albums rooted in reggae, electronica, folk and rock aimed at young ears.
Robbert Bobbert is the alter ego of Apples in Stereo frontman Robert Schneider.
Robbert Bobbert is the alter ego of Apples in Stereo frontman Robert Schneider. Todd Webb
I'll remember 2009 as the gold standard in kids' music, making it a challenge to settle on 10 favorites. Worthy efforts bubbling under the Top 10 include a re-imagining of her grandfather Woody's songs from Sarah Lee Guthrie (Go Waggaloo), a kid-friendly collection of Broadway show tunes from Dan Zanes (76 Trombones), and another Beatles-esque effort from Recess Monkey (Field Trip). The common element in my Top 10 list is a commitment to quality and listenability that passes the captive test. These albums can be endured and enjoyed repeatedly while you're held captive on a road trip.
Kathy O'Connell is the host for WXPN's Kids Corner in Philadelphia. Click here for more entries in our Best Music of 2009 series.