Raise your hand if you hear Elmo’s World in your sleep? Raise your hand if classical music triggers Baby Einstein flashbacks? Yeah, me too. I’m drowning in a sea of potty, alphabet, and animal songs.

Luckily, someone heard our S.O.S. over the cacophony and came out with some tunes that you might just dig. These are the musical versions of kids’ shows with grown up humor because they know we’re out there, too, and our souls need some stoking.

So, to save your sanity and still rock the kid tunes, here are eight great albums for kids that you might just leave on after the kids get out of the car.

Here! We made it easy!

Spotify Playlist

Blue Moo: 17 Hits from Way Back Never

by Sandra Boyton and Michael Ford

First, explain to your children what a jukebox is and read them the book that comes with the CD. Then rock out to Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys singing “Speed Turtle” or B. B. King crooning over “One Shoe Blues”. You’ve also got Neil Sedaka, Davy Jones from the Monkeys, Sha Na Na, and Patty LuPone.

The best thing about this CD is that there are more: Frog Trouble covers country and Philadelphia Chickens gives you Big Band and everybody teams up, including Laura Linney, Ben Harper, Kacey Musgraves, and Kevin Kline.

Meltdown!

by Justin Roberts

Justin Roberts sounds like a peppier James Taylor. He’s been on “The Today Show”, and this is his fifth kids’ CD, so he must be doing something right. “Cartwheels and Somersaults” charts an older brother’s joy at getting a sibling, and there’s even some synthesizer snuck in “Maybe the Monster.” This one’s pop rock at its best and quippy, which all parents can appreciate.

Take Me Outside

by Jessie Farrell

This one’s gone country. Jessie Farrell makes you want to get outside and play in the dirt and re-evaluate your relationship with the creepy-crawlies. Seriously, the best song, “Bugs and Slugs”, will make you regret those salt-tortured slugs your seven-year-old self kicked to the curb. She’s also got some fiddle and guitar in there for the true country vibes, which will make you want to lie in the grass on a spring day and remember what nature looked like from a kid’s-eye view.  

The Johnny Cash Children’s Album

by Johnny Cash

This one dates back to the 70s, but makes you fall in love with the man in black all over again. Nobody can hit those low notes like Johnny. The best song on the list, “I’ve Got a Boy and His Name is John”, is an allusion to another Cash favorite and sung with his wife, June Carter Cash. He doesn’t change his voice up for kids, thank goodness, and instead lulls them in with that gentle growl.

Greetings from Cloud 9

by The Whirlygigs

If you’re a folk song lover, this one’s for you. It covers all the kid topics, like tickles and boredom and helping in the kitchen, but it does it with some blues mixed in, a little percussion, and a lot of mellowed tones. The best track on the list? “The Dessert Song”…because, dessert.

Snacktime!”

by Barenaked Ladies

You’ll want to revisit “The Old Apartment” after the opening lines of this album. It will also make you hungry. This CD’s all about snackage, and the title song, “Snacktime”, features people calling in (some famous) and naming their favorite snacks. This has everything we love about this alt rock band, plus extra silliness. You’ll start to think “Stunt” should have been a kid’s album.

Here Come the ABCs

by They Might Be Giants

Indie rock for kids! This is one way to teach the ABCs that won’t drive you crazy, and it also comes with a DVD to save your life in the van on that long drive to the beach. They Might Be Giants are seasoned professionals with this, their third kid’s album. They lay out 25 alphabet-themed songs for your perusal. Best song on the list: “I C U”. You’ll geek out with the wordplay and electronica.

Bedtime with the Beatles

by Jason Falkner

I wish someone had made this for me as a kid. I think I might be a calmer person if I could fall asleep listening to instrumental versions of Beatles songs every night. Just close your eyes and imagine the melodies of “Blackbird” and “In My Life” steering your boat to the Land of Nod. This is a bedtime ritual you’ll want to continue long after the kids stop wanting you to tuck them in a night.

So before (or maybe after) you drive over those Kidz Bop and 50 Fun Songs! compilations that make you grow a little grayer with each playback, try out a few of these to soothe your savage soul. You might just find yourself singing along and remembering what it’s like to find your groove.