Like so many industries, children’s music has been hit hard during the pandemic. Album production stalled, and tours were cancelled. Yet artists responded creatively to the challenge, tending to the needs of their young fans through livestreaming concerts and crafting new music for kids to help them through these difficult times. Here are some of our favorite new releases that will help deal with big emotions and raise their spirits. While most of the songs are not directly related to the pandemic, you will also find some tracks that have particular relevance now, such as tunes about hand washing, masking, and being stuck at home!
You can find many of the songs mentioned below in this Spotify playlist!
New Music for Kids: Thriving During a Tough Year
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the following music for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. This article contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Laurie Berkner has been a favorite in our house since my now tween was a toddler, so I was thrilled to find out that she had released another album, Let’s Go! (Read my review of another recent album, Waiting For The Elevator). Production was in progress when the pandemic hit, prompting the band to add a song about hand washing, as well as the brilliant “My Super Hero Mask.” (Seriously, isn’t that a great way to get little kids to wear a mask?)
Let’s Go! is Berkner’s 14th album, and, just as in her previous works, it is filled with original songs that will hook you in from the first listen. This album celebrates special days, as in “Happy New Year” and the anticipation of being able to get on the move again with “Let’s Go!” She also has quietly beautiful songs like “Listen to the Sounds,” about being present in the moment, and “Beautiful Light,” about sharing your light with others. Long time fans and new recruits won’t be disappointed with this fabulous new collection from a beloved performer.
And be sure not to miss Berkner’s upcoming online spring concerts!
Muevete: Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body from national treasure José-Luis Orozco actually released at the start of the pandemic, but it remains as relevant as ever. This new bilingual album focuses on fitness, making it a perfect companion to his earlier album ¡Come Bien! Eat Right!. Orozco is the OG of Spanish-English music for kids, having performed bilingual children’s music for more than 50 years! He breathes life into traditional songs as well as constantly composing new favorites.
In a year when kids are stuck at home, Orozco encourages them to get up and express themselves through music and movement. Muevete: Songs for a Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body includes fast paced numbers like “Palomitas,” sure to get kids moving, plus others like the lovely “Los Pollitos,” a melodic reinterpretation of a popular traditional song. (See him in action in this video of the English language version, “Baby Chicks”). He continues his pioneering work in pairing music with bilingual education, by encouraging language development with songs that incorporate counting, colors, and simple movements.
It is impossible to listen to Orozco and not catch his enthusiasm. His positive attitude and joyful exuberance are particularly reassuring this year, when kids can often feel frustrated and anxious.
A Mind of Your Own from the Bright Siders was another album whose production was stalled because of the pandemic. Yet the duo knew that their music, which focuses on children’s mental well-being, was needed more than ever. The Bright Siders is a unique collaboration between a songwriter/musician and a child psychiatrist. The result is beautiful, catchy tunes that tackles the big issues head on, from bullying to dealing with change. It features a star-studded list of talented guest artists and is sprinkled with skits that help emphasize the problems (and solutions!) the group is highlighting, like how to deal with being super busy and stressed out.
The first track, “The Song About Songs,” is an upbeat tune that grabs you right away, while the folksy “Sad Is Not Forever” is lovely and evocative. But of course my favorite is the bilingual Vamos a Jugar/Let’s Go Play, which celebrates that despite their differences, all kids just want to play.
Designed to spark conversations between parents and kids, A Mind of Your Own even features “try this at home” ideas to help kids explore their emotions, a wonderful tool during this difficult year and beyond.
When I first put on Make It Happen from Boston area Stacey Peasley, my kids all looked up and said, “Hey, what’s that??” The title track “Make It Happen” is an infectious tune inspiring kids to change the world. (Watch the video). It includes topical songs, like “What Girls Do,” inspired by Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign, when she famously told young girls she was running for president because “that’s what girls do.” Other timely songs are “At the Parade” about having your own parade at home when city parades are canceled, and an updated version of her popular song “Soapy Bubbles.”
It is easy to hear the influence of rock and pop greats from recent decades, as in Peasley’s stadium anthem “Play the Game” or the ’90s style “Goodie Bag.”
This fun album, full of inspiring messages for kids, is sure to uplift and encourage families this year.
Portland-based Kelli Welli is a new favorite, with her country-fried release Let’s Go, Pistachio! I mean, how could you not love an album with a song about being best friends with a chicken? (Be sure to watch the video!) Kelli Welli is a storyteller at heart, with songs on topics that all kids will relate to, like long car rides, losing a tooth, and potty training. (The latter, “Tinkle Tinkle Toot,” is sure to get more than a few giggles from kids!) Kelli Welli clearly understands what the world looks like from a kid’s point of view, and she uses this insight to weave songs that are a bit absurd and a lot of fun, like “Let’s Go, Pistachio!” about a nut gone wild, and tongue twister “Peanut, Pinenut.” A fun listen for kids and adults alike, especially on those days when everyone could use a pick-me-up.
Great Indoors is the latest from Grammy nominated Genevieve Goings, known to many from her award-winning music video show “Choo Choo Soul” on Disney Jr. It is music meant for partying indoors! It is such a fun album for adults and kids. These dance beats will have everyone up off the couch, with songs like “Grateful,” helping us all remember what we have to be thankful for. (Don’t miss the adorable video!) The melodic R&B “Bed Time” is great for helping kids wind down at night.
You can watch her single “Summer All Year Long,” a catchy dance tune that proclaims that since we didn’t get a summer, we are making it summer all year long! We can all relate to that, right??
Enjoy this wonderful new kids’ music, helping us and our kids to thrive during this difficult year!