The Year In Music For Kids (And Parents) One of the best years for kids' music in recent memory includes releases from artists with feet firmly in both kid-friendly and adult-oriented worlds. Old favorites went in new directions, while emerging artists gave a glimpse of the future of a genre as diverse and unpredictable as kids themselves.

The Year In Music For Kids (And Parents)

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Let's Go Everywhere (300)

This has been one of the best years for kids' music in recent memory, including many new releases from artists with feet firmly in both kid-friendly and adult-oriented worlds (Lisa Loeb, Medeski Martin & Wood). Old favorites (Trout Fishing in America, Gunnar Madsen) went in new directions, while emerging artists (Randy Kaplan, Ham & Burger) gave a glimpse of the future of a genre as diverse and unpredictable as kids themselves.

Click here for more entries in the Best CDs of 2008 series.

The Year In Music For Kids (And Parents)

Big Round World

Alarm Clock Rings

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1. Trout Fishing in America

  • Song: Alarm Clock Rings
  • from Big Round World
  • by Trout Fishing in America

My favorite band collaborated with classroom kids to create a variety of themes and genres, including forays into multicultural education that never lose the humor and balance at the heart of this duo. "The Alarm Clock Rings" veers from space-pop to heavy metal and back.

Camp Lisa

Disappointing Pancake

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2. Lisa Loeb

  • Song: Disappointing Pancake
  • from Camp Lisa
  • by Lisa Loeb

A summer-camp theme album, Camp Lisa celebrates friendship ("Best Friend") and camp rituals, like the litany of packing chores that forms "Going Away." "Disappointing Pancake" earns its syrup with the line, "The crowd yelled, 'Batter, batter' / He felt right at home."

Pop Fly

From Scratch

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3. Justin Roberts

  • Song: From Scratch
  • from Pop Fly
  • by Justin Roberts

The title cut's saga of dandelion dreams interrupted by a softball hurtling through the sky sets the tone for this chronicle of real-life kid experiences. "From Scratch" celebrates Grandma's magical powers in the kitchen.

I'm Growing

Always on the Bottom

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4. Gunnar Madsen

  • Song: Always on the Bottom
  • from I'm Growing
  • by Gunnar Madsen

In a gentle offering that never gets babyish, Gunnar Madsen honors classical music with "Mozart's at the Window (40th Symphony)." Along the way, he makes underachieving appealing in "Always on the Bottom."

Songs with No Character

Sleep

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5. Scribblemonster & His Pals

  • Song: Sleep
  • from Songs with No Character
  • by Scribblemonster & His Pals

A chronicle of parent/child life, Songs With No Character lets a mainstream sound mask its anarchic core. "I'm a Utility Pole (The World's Worst Dance Song)" opens listeners to the wonders of the telephone pole, while "Sleep" is an anti-lullaby insomnia rocker.

Loquat Rooftop

Loquat Rooftop

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6. Randy Kaplan

  • Song: Loquat Rooftop
  • from Loquat Rooftop
  • by Randy Kaplan

Singer/storyteller Randy Kaplan crafts a brassy, old-timey collection with subjects from "The Fire Engine" ("It's big, it’s red / It's metal with water") to laundry camp ("Clothes Dryer"). "The Ladybug Without Spots" showcases Kaplan's bluesy storytelling.

Pharm Phresh hide caption

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Jungle Jim

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7. Ham & Burger

  • Song: Jungle Jim
  • from Pharm Phresh
  • by Ham & Burger

Crafting inventive, high-energy hip-hop with infectious humor, Ham & Burger is the duo of a pig and a cow. (Guess which is which?) "Alphabet" functions as a joyous teaching tool for toddlers, while "Jungle Jim" addresses lying -- or is it imagination?

Blue Moo

Gorilla Song

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8. Sandra Boynton

  • Song: Gorilla Song
  • from Blue Moo
  • by Sandra Boynton

This mini-musical pays homage to early-'60s rock. Real icons like Brian Wilson, B.B. King and Neil Sedaka perform original Boynton & Ford songs, each appropriate to the time frame and bursting with humor. Sha Na Na even turns up to get kid-silly in "Gorilla Song."

The Dragonfly Races

Because It's There

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9. Ellis Paul

  • Song: Because It's There
  • from Dragonfly Races
  • by Ellis Paul

Folksinger Ellis Paul's intimate style mixes complex guitar riffs with simple themes. "Million Chameleon March" is about the power to change, and "Because It's There" celebrates possibilities that lead to the moon and under the sea.

Let’s Go Everywhere!

Where's the Music

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10. Medeski, Martin & Wood

  • Song: Where's the Music
  • from Let's Go Everywhere
  • by Medeski, Martin & Wood

The instrumental trio Medeski Martin & Wood adds a toy piano to a collection that sparks imaginative listening without lyrics. Kids' voices jump in occasionally to remind listeners of the target audience, asking, "Where's the Music?"