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Recess Monkey
Photograph: Kevin FryRecess Monkey

The best bands for kids that deserve a spot on your playlist

Our go-to bands for kids are fun, catchy and worthy of repeats. Get ready for an epic family jam session!

Written by
Jeff Bogle
&
Danielle Valente
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In search of the best bands for kids? We know a thing or two about jam-worthy musicians your little ones will love!

Whether they're craving pop tunes or want to rock with a hip, punk rock group, our roundup offers plenty of suggestions that'll take family karaoke to new levels. If you're looking to spruce up that playlist of karaoke songs for kids or dance songs for kids, now's the time. 

Even better? These aren't your typical bands for kids. Mom and Dad—you will swoon over our go-to singers and will find something to love: the Beatles' influence in Recess Monkey, indie-rock undertones courtesy of the Not-Its. Start listening ASAP!

If you're trying to plan one of the best birthday parties for kids or simply hosting an afternoon playdate in your apartment, check out these awesome recs!

Best bands for kids

The loyal fanbase behind They Might Be Giants is proof of the group's success. But the sold-out shows aren't just catered to wee little ones—even older generations can appreciate the duo's charming, folk-like tunes. The Here Comes... Disney album series holds a special place in listeners' hearts and truly made the musicians stand out among the kindie band crowd. We definitely can't say we're surprised that two Brooklynites put a hip twist on kids' music. theymightbegiants.com

The Okee Dokee Brothers

Best friends-turned musical partners, Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander are a go-to kids' band that everyone in the family can appreciate. Their bluegrass, melodic tunes will be the hit of every birthday party and playdate you host. We suggest playing "Jamboree" or "The Boatman's Dance" if you're looking to kick the festivities into high gear. okeedokee.org

 

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The Not-Its!

Prepare to shred with this Seattle quintent. The Not-Its—well known for their pink and black punk attire—put a family-friendly spin on indie-rock tunes while jamming haircuts, skateboarding and get-togethers with friends. It'll be difficult not to dance along to the band's catchy beats. wearethenot-its.com

 

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Being a kid comes with a lot of emotion, and Justin Roberts is a talented songwriter who brings those feelings to life. Remember anxiously sitting at home, waiting to see if the wicked weather would close your school? Relive the good 'ol days with his fun track, "Snow Day." If Grandma's cookies always hold the top spot in your heart, you'll want to have a listen to "From Scratch." Justin's pop songs also serve as a great bonding moment for parents and kiddos, ultimately bridging generations together through experiences and favorite things (yep, we're still referencing Grandma's cookies). justinroberts.org

 

Frances England

A folk singer for the younger set, Frances England has won the hearts of kids and parents everywhere, and rightfully so. Her humble beginnings date back to a debut album that she actually created as a fundraiser for her child's school. We're certainly glad she took things a step further. England tours all over the country (frequenting Lincoln Center when in NYC) and is one to watch for songs that tug at the heartstrings. Parents might get a bit nostalgic (and even teary-eyed) when reminiscing about the past during "Oh how you've grown." She has certainly left her mark on popular bands for kids. francesengland.com

 

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If your kids have a bit of trouble studying, try playing some tunes. Seriously! The pop-punk musicians behind The Deedle Deedle Dees are known for sneaking some historical references in the lyrics, which can turn your family jam session into a study session, too. Plus, the band will totally want to make you get up and dance, so it's a win-win for everyone! thedeedledeedledees.com

 

Recess Monkey

With a nod to parents' favorite musicians (think Simon and Garfunkel and the Beatles), Recess Monkey puts a catchy, pop flair on kids' music and begs for a sing-along. We certainly hope you have a mic on hand—you and the kids will want to join in the harmonies on favorites like "That Laugh" and you'll definitely be grooving to the electric, jam-worthy "Take Your Kid to Work Day." recessmonkeytown.com

 

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Caspar Babypants

Chris Ballew, the former Presidents of the United States of America frontman and MTV video star, often uses just voice, acoustic guitar and simple percussion on his fresh interpretations of childhood classics ("Ring Around the Rosie," "Ba Ba Black Sheep") and quirky originals. The best part: His stripped-down tunes are still palatable to adults—even after two dozen listens. babypantsmusic.com

Gustafer Yellowgold

Since his inception by Morgan Taylor in 2005, Gustafer Yellowgold has quickly become a mainstay on the kids' music scene, melding soft rock songs with animated stories about a yellow fellow from the sun who has traveled who made the Earth his home. gustaferyellowgold.com

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The Laurie Berkner Band

Often hailed as the Queen Bee of toddler rock, Berkner's sunshine-and-smile motif has wooed millions of youngsters since the release of her first album, Whaddaya Think of That?. Having conquered the kindie-rock scene, the multiplatinum city mom also turned to animated television by partnering with Little Airplane Productions (The Wonder Pets!) to develop a preschool TV series called Sing It, Laurie! laurieberkner.com

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The husband-wife duo of Rhythm Child captures the electrifying potential of percussion. Their take on "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" takes Mary Poppins out to the dance floor while their fan-favorite album, Eat a Bowl of Cherries, will have every member of the family craving some sweet fruit. rhythmchild.net

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For many families, Dan Zanes is the name (and the hair!) most synonymous with modern children's music—and rightfully so. The Grammy Award-winning Brooklynite is known for multicultural, loose-fitting party songs with the help of his fine and often famous friends (such as Andrew Bird, Joan Osborne and Sharon Jones, all of whom contributed to Zanes's record, Little Nut Tree). danzanes.com

Billy Kelly and the Blah Blah Blahs

Despite the ironically melancholic stage name, feeling blah is just the opposite of what you'll experience listening to any of Kelly's kindie albums. Filled to the brim with witty wordplay, this sharp-as-a-tack songwriter is best known for his goofy XM Kids Place Live smash hit "People Really Like Milk." thebillykellyshow.com

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Consider this group the unofficial Fountains of Wayne of the kids' scene, a favorite amongst tweens who may have outgrown  other names on this list. Rocking kindie alternative hits such as "Stand Up to the Bully" and "Go Go Girl" deserve a spot on everyone's playlists. hipwaders.net

Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower

Carrying a torch for a Pete Seeger brand of traditional family folk, Elizabeth Mitchell and her family (daughter Story and husband Daniel Littleton) offer 21st-century clans a pastiche of yesteryear tunes via gentle, hand-spun originals ("1 Day, 2 Days, 3 Days Old") and familiar classics ("This Little Light of Mine," "Shoo-Fly"). youaremyflower.org

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Rolie Polie Guacamole is a creative mix of ska and pop punk that any parent born in the '90s will appreciate. Frank Gallo, son of the Imagination Workshop's Lou Gallo, offers a fun sound that any little one and adults can jam to. roliepolieguacamole.com.

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Even kids need a taste of alternative/ska jams, and this SoCal band—equipped with crime-fighting costumes— delivers all that and more. If there's anyone who knows the way to kids' hearts, it's Christian Jacobs, and co-creator of Yo Gabba Gabba and founder of the group. theaquabats.com.

 

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