Too many parents have children and immediately resign themselves to lives of servitude and bad music. And while have kids may mean an immediate and profound change to one's life, it doesn't mean that parents should immediately commit themselves to the pain of songs sung by people in animal costumes or animated princesses. There are a ton of great kid-friendly punk albums that parents and children can listen to together that will have the little ones entertained and the parents not feeling like they want to extract their own eardrums with a sharpened pencil. Here are some of our favorites.
Asian Man Records
In addition to being the frontman for Skankin' Pickle, part of The Chinkees and the Bruce Lee Band and a solo artists, Mike Park
is a social activist, the founder of Asian Man Records, and the guy behind the original Plea for Peace and Ska Against Racism tours. He's also a father of two.
As a part of being a socially conscious father, he set his sights on kids' music, and the result is Smile. A solid ska record with some serious horns, Smile is an album of fast fun songs with kid-friendly themes like "Wiggly Wiggly Worm," "Everybody Loves to Jump," "When the Light Turns Red You Stop." Honestly, ska is made for kids and adults alike, as the music makes you want to dance and none of the songs are any goofier than many "grown up" ska tunes. Seriously, none of this is any goofier than Mustard Plug's "Skankin' By Numbers," which remains a classic.
Go Kart Records
Aside from the occasional reference to sniffing glue or the KKK, the Ramones
were a pretty kid-friendly group, with upbeat songs with silly lyrics. Jennifer Precious Finch of the girl act L7 takes that one step further with Brats on the Beat
, a collection of even more kid-friendly versions of classic tunes by the Ramones with an all-star cast.
Jim Lindberg from Pennywise, belts out a fun, refreshing take on "Blitzkreg Bop," Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio does "Rock 'N' Roll High School," the Bouncing Souls' Greg Attonito delivers with "Do You Remember Rock 'N' Roll Radio?," and Blag Dahlia of the Dwarves (arguably the least kid-friendly group out there), has a great time with "Rockaway Beach." By the time it cthe legendary Jack Grisham of TSOL closes out Brats on the Beat with his take on "Bop 'Til You Drop", any kid within listening range will have become a Ramones fan.
Like Mike Park, Billy Jackfish is the product of a punk who had kids and then sought to create music for them. A founding member of the Winnipeg punk scene, Billy's travels have taken him on the road throughout North America with his punk band before settling down to raise his children and to produce offbeat, catchy kid's songs from the positively fun and silly "Stinky Poo Song" to not at all politically poignant but utterly entertaining "Punk Rock Kid."
Once you've whetted everyone's appetite with Brats on The Beat,
why not follow through with the original classics? Aside from a handful of not-so-savory songs, most of the Ramones catalog is fun upbeat punk about not much at all - perfect for parents to crank with their kids at home or in the car.
With 85 songs on three discs (personally compiled by Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone ) and the Lifestyles of the Ramones documentary DVD with videos and personal anecdotes and recollections on the band, it's an essential for punk fans and the perfect playlist for parents who want some fun fast tunes to play for their little ones. The first time a parent gets their child to sing along to "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" is a moment nobody ever forgets.
The original "Japanese Action Comic Punk Band," Peelander-Z
hails from the Z Area of Planet Peelander. They're also one of the most exciting live bands around, a favorite from SXSW and the 2011 Vans Warped Tour, and also the band behind one of the best kid-friendly punk albums going.
With songs about ice cream, tacos and a particularly fun punk trip to Old MacDonald's farm, Peelanders Yellow, Red, Green and Pink bring the frenetic energy of their spastic live sets to the album, producing music that will have you and the little ones bouncing around the house, singing along and attempting to replicate the band's thick accents.
Back in the days before there were entire channels devoted to cartoons, even before there was cable television, I used to get up early every Saturday morning to watch cartoons for hours, eating sweetened cereal and slowly descending into a sugar- and animation-induced state of catatonia. This album pays tributes to those days, with a handful of bands covering cartoon themes from the era. With the Ramones playing the theme from Spiderman, Face to Face
doing "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man," the Butthole Surfers on "Underdog" and The Reverend Horton Heat doing "Jonny Quest/Stop That Pigeon," it's an album that will inspire a sense of nostalgia for grown-ups and entertain a whole new generation of kids who'll love the songs, even if they have no idea that they were inspired by cartoons at all.
An established anti-folk musician best known for her contributions to the Juno soundtrack, Kimya Dawson is a talented songwriter and a devoted mother to her daughter Panda, all of which have lead to the creation of Alphabutt, her albums for kids.
With tunes about animals and babies, she pleases the little ones, but its the songs like the title track (which starts out "A is for apple, B is for Butt") and "Pee-Pee in the Potty" that appeal to the juvenile sense of humor that kids and grown-up punk rockers all have in common.
Rockabye Baby! Music
With a little one around, not every moment can be devoted to rocking out. There are quiet times as well, when naps, sugar crashes and simple chilling out from over stimulation are called for. This is the perfect time for lullabies, but even lullabies can have an edge, which is where the Rockabye Baby!
collection comes in.
A series of classical lullaby interpretations of songs by punk, metal and classic rock bands, they have produced an extensive collection of soothing lullabies that are sure to relax all involved, yet hold onto to the original theme close enough that those old enough to know recognize the songs completely. The series, which includes CDs of lullaby versions of songs by the Ramones, Green Day, Nirvana and the Pixies, are the perfect gift for parents with a new baby, or for anyone who would like a little relaxing music with a happily familiar melody.
Hardcore musician Michael McKinnon wanted to make a kid-safe punk rock record, so that he could share his love of punk with his kids. The resulting albums by Jam Toast - Silly grown-ups, punk is for kids!
and Rock 'n Roll Playground
- are filled with fun punk tunes about things like learning the ABC’s and roller-skating wiener dogs.
Both albums are available through the Jam Toast website, as are a handful of free songs for download.
A punk band made up of four Detroit moms influenced by the Stooges
, the Candy Band is a kid-friendly favorite. Sick of the music they were finding for their kids, they decided to start producing punk rock versions of nursery rhymes, kids' classics and original tunes. Over the years, they've appeared at Lollapalooza, the Vans Warped Tour and a host more kid-friendly functions. There version of "Skip To My Lou" from their second album, More Candy, is an oi-inspired classic that would be just as suited for a circle pit as it is for a birthday party.