2018 might have been the year of “Baby Shark,” but it was also filled with lots of other amazing kids’ music, with new offerings from kindie favorites and debut artists alike. We’ve put together a list of the top kids’ albums of the year in every genre, from indie to Latin to folk to pop. Read on to discover your next musical obsession.
Suzi Shelton—Hand in Hand
Brooklyn-based artist Suzi Shelton has been rocking the kids’ music scene for over 15 years, and her newest album, Hand in Hand, was a huge hit this year. The album features whimsical songs about ladybugs and raindrops alongside deeper tunes like "Can You Feel the Power" and "The Grass Is Always Greener," songs that are all about inclusion and doing good in the world. Eclectic, feel-good music with an amazing message? Sign us up!
Like Father Like Son—Sun Is a Star
Like Father Like Son is the product of two kindie favorites—Frank Gallo of Rolie Polie Guacamole, and his dad, Lou Gallo of Lou Gallo & The Very Hungry Band. Some of the songs on their debut album explore the father-son theme ("Like My Dad," "Like Father Like Son") and others will make you want to get up and dance ("Day-O," "Shake Shake Shake").
Gunnar Madsen—I Am Your Food
Grammy-nominated Gunnar Madsen is back at it again with this fun collection of food-centric songs, perfect for your musically inclined foodies. Rock out to "Divine Bovine," sung from the perspective of a dairy cow, dream about a "City of Sardines" and sing along to "10,000 Pancakes." Just have the snacks ready!
Best Coast—Best Kids
You might know Best Coast for their festival-friendly indie rock, and now they’ve dipped a toe into the world of children’s music. Best Kids is an Amazon exclusive album with a mix of original songs, covers and kid-approved classics like "If You’re Happy and You Know It." One thing’s for sure—this is one album you’ll be happy to blast in the car.
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo—Wake Up the Dream
This kindie hip-hop favorite is as awesome as ever on his newest album. Wake Up the Dream will take you on a whirlwind adventure through your mind with a parade of dream-inspired songs. The high-energy beats and funky melodies will keep the kiddos singing and bopping along throughout the record.
The Pop Ups—Giants of Science
This album has been nominated for Best Children’s Album for the 2019 Grammys, and for good reason. Giants of Science is an ode to (you guessed it) scientists, with tributes to the folks who invented light bulbs, antibiotics, airplanes and other stuff that’s made our lives better. If that doesn’t pique your kid’s interest on its own, then The Pop Ups’ sweet beats definitely will.
Raffi—Dog on the Floor
As the original kindie rocker, Raffi will always have a special place in our hearts. He’s not slowing down anytime soon, as evidenced by his fabulous album Dog on the Floor. Just like his previous albums, this one is all about nurturing imagination and encouraging learning. Recorded in his own home, you’ll get to hear about his new pup on "Walking My Dog" and sing along to a cover of George Harrison’s "Here Comes the Sun."
Caspar Babypants—Keep It Real!
Caspar Babypants is a cult kindie favorite, and he’s back and better than ever with his 2018 album, Keep It Real! It’s filled with original songs about everything from dancing hippos to robots that cry. The clever lyrics are accompanied with beautiful instrumentals that make the album just as fun to listen to for parents as it is for kids.
Rainbow Rock Band—Total Eclipse of the Rainbow
Led by singer/songwriter/educator Dr. Kate Moran (aka The Rainbow Lady), Rainbow Rock Band has released a showstopping second album, Total Eclipse of the Rainbow. Their music is high-energy and upbeat, and the album is filled with fun songs that encourage kids to sing and dance along. "Crazy Cakes" gets kids dancing and counting to ten, while "Samuel the Zookeep" lets them act out each of the animals in the zoo.
Mi Amigo Hamlet—Happy Land Is Tierra Feliz
Native Guatemalan Mi Amigo Hamlet writes and performs music in English and Spanish that he describes as "Bilingual Latin Alternative." His debut album, Happy Land Is Tierra Feliz, is a feast for the ears with influences from merengue, salsa, rumba flamenco and bossa nova. Learn about everything from colors to modes of transportation as you bop along to these kid-approved tunes.
Sukey Molloy—Five Little Oysters!
For her fifth album, beloved children’s musician Sukey Molloy manages to mix traditional favorite tunes with upbeat original songs, poetry and a story in a way that’s totally mesmerizing for the little ones. "Do Your Ears Hang Low" is set in a carnival atmosphere, while "Simple Gifts" is performed in a simple, relaxing way that stays true to the original. And in case you can’t get enough, Molloy has released two audio picture books alongside the album: Five Little Oysters! and The Story of Little Flame in the Arctic.
The Not-Its—Ready or Not!
Kindie rock darlings The Not-Its released their seventh studio album this year, and it’s an instant classic. It’s a fun and upbeat exploration of the adventure of childhood that’ll get your whole family on the dance floor (even if that’s just in the living room). The clever lyrics will have the kids giggling, while the rocking drums and guitars make it a fun listen for grown-ups, too.
Tim Kubart—Building Blocks
Grammy-winning artist Tim Kubart is back in fine form with his 2018 release, Building Blocks. The album is all about growing up and covers everything from taking on the first day of school to welcoming a new pet home. There are a few fun cameos in the mix, like Steve Burns from Blue’s Clues on "It’s Going Up!" and the Junior Chorus at Woodward Parkway Elementary School (Tim’s alma mater!) on "We Are Growing."
In his ninth album for families, Mister G celebrates kids’ wonder for the natural world. He draws influences from folk, bluegrass, soul and vintage country to explore the beauty of the outdoors. The title track celebrates sleeping out under the stars, while "S’mores" recalls the joy of sitting around the campfire as a child. Parents will love listening to this one too, thanks to the lush hand-played fiddle, pedal steel, mandolin, banjo, upright bass and acoustic guitar.
Rockabye Baby—Lullaby Renditions of Lady Gaga
This just might be the best way to send your little monsters off to sleep: lullaby renditions of Lady Gaga’s hits! Songs like "Just Dance," "Million Reasons" and "Bad Romance" have been mellowed out to make lovely lullabies, but they might still transport you back to younger and wilder times. You can never start ‘em too early with a love for pop music, and this album is a pretty fabulous way to do just that.
All The Sounds (Lucy Kalantari & The Jazz Cats)
Is your kiddo really just an old soul at heart? This album takes all the swingin' beats of the jazz hot era and combines it with delightful, inspired tunes. Think Squirrel Nut Zippers for the younger set.
Get it on Amazon.
Falu's Bazaar (Falu)
This album is a musical tour of South Asia, with both Falu and kids singing along throughout the album. Your kiddo won't be able to keep themselves from dancing to super poppy Bollywood-esque tunes like "Tararum Pumpum" and "Bazaar."
Get it on Amazon.