Kids' Songs About Emotions

While I generally shy away from songs and kids music that explicitly teach subjects in a didactic way, that doesn't mean that a) non-didactic songs don't teach the listener, and b) you can't create a very catchy song that also happens to be educational.

There are lots of songs that take history as their subject, and there are any number of math, non-English language, science, and standard school or preschool life skill subjects in song.  Emotional literacy, however, is a trickier subject, as the songwriter isn't so much covering facts as she or he is trying to write a song explaining the very emotions songs usually generate.  It's a meta idea... for 4- or 7-year-olds.

Back in 2008, I said that there really hadn't been much if any non-didactic kids music about emotions written, and that there was a niche waiting to be filled.  Luckily, I think that niche has been filled, at least a little bit -- there are now a number of tracks that I think could serve as tuneful introductions for a young audience to what emotions are.

I've provided a list below, but if you've got more to add, list them in the comments!  (Note that the list generally tries to limit itself to songs about emotion, rather than including songs that deal with emotion in passing.  Such a list would be much, much longer.)


“It’s Alright to Cry” - Rosie Grier (among many others) [stream]

"Cry Cry Cry” - Ziggy Marley (feat. Jack Johnson & Paula Fuga) [stream]

“Joy Comes Back” - Alastair Moock [stream]

“Furry Happy Monsters” - R.E.M. [video]

“Sad” - Big Block Singsong [video]

“Brave” - Big Block Singsong [video]

“Happy” - Big Block Singsong [video]

"Mad" - Big Block Singsong [video]

“Mama Is Sad” - Justin Roberts [stream]

“Happy Sad Silly Mad” - Jeremy Plays Guitar [video]

“Sad Robot” - The Jellydots [stream]

“Are You Happy?” - Alison Faith Levy [stream]

“If You’re Happy and You Know It..." - Raffi (and many many others) [stream]

"In All of the World" - Papa Crow [stream]

"Alright, Okay, Just Fine" - Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang [Spotify]

"Feel What U Feel" - Lisa Loeb feat. Craig Robinson [Amazon]

"Feelings Change" - The Pop Ups [stream]

StevenSteven: Finally and Foreverywhere

StevenSteven Foreverywhere album cover

StevenSteven Foreverywhere album cover

It started nearly a decade ago, when former Blue's Clues star Steve Burns and current Flaming Lips instrumentalist Steven Drozd stormed Jack's Big Music Show with "I Hog (the Ground)," which forever and for all time will be the best song for Groundhog Day.

Then, a couple years or so later, news surfaced that Burns and Drozd hadn't stopped singing about groundhogs but had, in fact, recorded an entire album together. They named their band Steve 'n' Steven.  (Yes, that post links to a Myspace page, which is an indication of just how far back this goes.)

And then: silence.

You can read this 2014 post about the first time the album was streamed, and you can hear the frustration in my text -- about time! -- and palpable excitement.  (Especially since that was in the wake of a video that has become over time one of my all-time favorites -- "A Fact Is a Gift That You Give Your Brain.")

And then (again): silence (again).

Steve Burns and Steven Drozd

Steve Burns and Steven Drozd

Until the end of this September, when a brand new StevenSteven website and Twitter account popped up, with a psychedelic new video for "The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow" playing on the site.

Well, even Chinese Democracy finally got a release date, and the long-awaited StevenSteven (spelling updated slightly) album -- now titled Foreverywhere -- has an official release date: February 2017.

The band cites "Black Sabbath, Cephalopods, Grover, [and] Toy Commercials from the 1970s" among many other people and entities as influences and inspirations.  It'll definitely be one of those kids music albums that lots of folks both inside and outside the kids music world will be talking about next year.

As for me, I might be willing to be like the Unicorn in the 3 song "mini-EP" of sorts scattered as an arc throughout the entire album, waiting until the edge for forever to have the album released into the world.  (I have been like that, in kindie terms, at least.)  But I'm glad I've only got another 3 months or so.

Still from "The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow" video

Still from "The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow" video

Kids' Songs for Elections

I do my best to stay apolitical 'round here.  That doesn't mean that there aren't some societal assumptions underlying this entire venture, but you're not going to find anything remotely resembling an endorsement.

Which isn't to say I'm not interested in government and elections -- that's very far from the truth. And so, with an election coming up next week, I thought it was high time that I put together a list of political and civic songs for kids.

I will note that I've tried not to make this a list of history songs.  If I did that, after all, half the songs on the list could be from the Deedle Deedle Dees.  I was as interested in the political process, citizens participating, and the category of Presidents as I was in specific "historic" individuals.

As with all of these types of lists, it's a work in progress, so if I've left your favorite (or, if you're a musician, your own) song off the list, let me know in the comments.  (And if They Might Be Giants ever release Here Comes Political Science, you'll hear about it here first.)

Albums

Schoolhouse Rock - America Rocks [lyrics]

Various Artists - We Stood Up [stream/download]

Songs

Jim Gill - "Vote for Jim Gill" [video]

The Galactic Heroes - "George Washington" [stream/download]

Dan Zanes - "Washington at Valley Forge" [stream]

The Not-Its - "Washington, D.C." [video]

Brian Vogan and his Good Buddies - "Presidents' Day" [stream]

Schoolhouse Rock - "I'm Just a Bill" [video]

The Deedle Deedle Dees - "Si Se Puede!" [stream]

The Deedle Deedle Dees - "Teddy Days" [notes]

They Might Be Giants - "James K. Polk" [stream]

They Might Be Giants - "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" [stream]

They Might Be Giants - "Vote or Don't" [stream]

Danny Weinkauf - "Cast My Vote" [video]

Kids' Songs for Halloween (2016 Update!)

I've not a big Halloween fan -- I'm mostly repelled by the vast amounts of really bad candy, though I love the community feel of the holiday (given the climate in late October in Phoenix, the holiday in our neighborhood is a giant block party).

But I am in the minority, I believe.  So here's a collection of kindie Halloween songs I'm aware of, some of them dating back to 2006 and even before that).  This is an update of my 2015 list with some new songs, italicized.  I'm also going to start putting links in if they're available.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some, or missing your favorites -- as always, list them in the comments, and have them forever immortalized.

Albums

-- Andy Z: The Grand Scream of Things

-- Katherine Dines: Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Spooky!

-- Monty Harper: Halloween Madness

-- Magic Maestro Music's: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

-- Mr. Billy: Big Pumpkin

-- Eban Schletter: Eban Schletter's Witching Hour

-- Sue Schnitzer: Boo, Cackle, Trick or Treat

-- M. Ryan Taylor: Thirteen For Halloween

-- Wee Hairy Beasties: Creepy Lullabies

Songs

"Bah Humbug Halloween" - Poochamungas

"Ballad of Boo Ghosty" - Alison Faith Levy

"Batty Bat" - Sesame Street's The Count

"Bonobo Joe and the Voodoo Queen" - The Hipwaders (see here)

"Boo!" - Trout Fishing in America

"Boogieman" - Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
"Boogieman" - Keith Munslow

"Boogie Man" - Heidi Swedberg and the Sukey Jump Band

"The Boy Who Cried El Chupacabra" - The Hipwaders
"Bumps in the Night" - Mr. Whirly

"Dance Like a Monster" - Play Date

"Do You Believe in Monsters?" - Mr. Ray

"Confusing Costume" - Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights

"The Day After Halloween" - The Sippy Cups

"Dia de los Muertos," Uncle Rock (Plays Well With Others)
"The Edison Museum" - They Might Be Giants (No!)

"Es Halloween" - Mariana Iranzi

"For Halloween This Year" - You and Me and the Rain

"Gettin' Down on Halloween" - Boxtops Jenkins

"The Ghost Goes Boo" - The Little Ditties

"Ghosts and Goblins - Mister G

"Goblins" - DidiPop

"Halloween" - Charity and the JAMband

"Halloween" - Princess Katie & Racer Steve

"Halloween" - Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke
"Halloween Every Night" - Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips

"Halloween Freak Out" - Chuck Cheesman

"Halloween Is Finally Here!" - Bears and Lions

"Halloween Train" - James Coffey

"Harry's Haunted Halloween Circus," - Ralph's World (At the Bottom of the Sea)

"Heebie Jeebies" - Jazzy Ash

"Hey Mister Bones" - The Little Ditties

"I'm a Jack-o-Lantern" - The Boogers

"I'm a Vampire" - Roy Handy and the Moonshot

"I'm Not Afraid" - The Angry Beards

"It's Halloween" - Lucy Kalantari

"Jilly the Ghost" - Keith Munslow & Bridget Brewer

"The Midnight Secret Sock Party" - Sara Lovell

"Miss Elephant's Gerald" - The Pop Ups

"Missing in the Corn Maze" - vogelJoy

"Monster League Baseball" - Eric Herman

"Monster Moves" - Koo Koo Kanga Roo

"The Monster Under My Bed" - Mighty Weaklings

"Monsters" - Jazzy Ash
"My Brother's a Monster" - Laura Freeman

"November First (Jump, Run, Shake)" - Eric Herman

"On Halloween Night" - Joe Scruggs

"Perfect Pumpkins" - Todd McHatton

"Pumpkinhead" - The Hipwaders

"Pumpkin Pied" - Gustafer Yellowgold

"Rattlin' Rattlin' Bones - Boxtop Jenkins

"Robot for Halloween" - The Flannery Brothers

"Robot Monkey Head" - John Hadfield (OK, not totally Halloween-themed, but SHOULD BE)

"Scare Me Scare You!" - Baze and His Silly Friends

"Scream" - Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and The Not-Its

"The Skeleton Band" - Sara Lovell
"A Skeleton Bang," Rasputina (Colours Are Brighter)

"Skeleton Dance" - Monty Harper

"Skeletone" - Caspar Babypants
"Skin and Bones" -- countless recordings (Raffi, Sam Hinton, the Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Spooky disk above)

"Snowstorm on Halloween" - Turkey Andersen

"Spooky Dance" - Rebecca Frezza

"Spooky Stuff" - David Tobocman

"Spooky Way Home" - The Crayonettes

"Suck Your Blood" - Uncle Dox

"Tell Me Who's the Monster" - Sara Lovell
"That's How a Pumpkin Grows" - Brian Vogan

"Them Bones" - lots of artists, including Caspar Babypants

"There's a Monster in My House" - Eric Herman

"Trick or Treat" - Justin Roberts

"Wesley Werewolf" - Skelly and the Punkins

"Where Do Monsters Go?" - Ratboy Jr.

"The Winchester Festival" - Mr. David

 

Bill from Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child also published his playlists from his '05, '06, and '08 shows...

Themed songs from 2006 show:

Ralph's World - Harry's Haunted Halloween Circus (At the Bottom of the Sea)
Roger Day - Monster Face (Ready to Fly)
ScribbleMonster & Friends - A Monster Goes Rrraargh! (Chocolate Milk)
Deedle Deedle Dees - Scared By My Own Costume (Live at Flywheel)
Monty Harper - Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet (Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD)
Elizabeth Street - Really Gross (Different)
Telephone Company - Baby Halloween (The King's Surprse?)
Milkshake - Scared (Happy Songs)
Steve Weeks - 4 Little Girls (Aaron and his Aeroplane)
TMBG - Something Grabbed Ahold of My Hand (Apollo 18)
Mary Kaye - Skeleton Song (Spin Your Web)
Rebecca Frezza - Monster in My Room (Music in My Heart)
TMBG - Fingertips (Apollo 18)
Laurie Berkner - Monster Boogie (Buzz Buzz)
Andy Glockenspiel - Monster in Pink Underwear
Muppets - Wild Thing
They Might Be Giants - Hovering Sombrero '05 (Here Come the ABCs)

2005's list, "where we were much more Halloween-themed throughout":

They Might Be Giants - Hovering Sombrero '05 (Here Come the ABCs) (telling you, that floating hat is scary)
Splash 'n' Boots - Spooky-Doo (Getting Our Feet Wet)
Josh Greenberg & the Mother Goose Jazz Band - Boogie Woogie Ghost (Rhythm and Rhymes)
Trout Fishing in America - The Goops (It's a Puzzle)
Jennie Avila - Gargoyles (For Kids)
Troubador - There's a Werewolf Under My Bed (All About Animals)
Laurie Berkner - Monster Boogie (Buzz Buzz)
Two of a Kind - This Holiday Is Halloween (Friends)
Kevin Kameraad - Pumpkin Belly (Tomato Collection)
Monty Harper - Trick or Treat Smell My Feet (The Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD)
Babaloo - Gorilla in the Middle of My Bedroom (Bean Bag Bop)
Ben Kweller with Ben Folds and Ben Lee - Wicked Little Town (Wig in a Box)
They Might Be Giants - Something Grabbed A Hold of My Hand (Apollo 18)
Ralph's World - Harry's Haunted Halloween Circus (At the Bottom of the Sea)
Nerf Herder - Buffy the Vampire Slayer Theme
Daddy A Go-Go - Scaredy Cat Cowboy Part 2 (Mojo A Go Go)
Roger Day - Monster Face (Ready To Fly)
ScribbleMonster & His Pals - A Monster Goes Rrraargh! (Best of Friends)
They Might Be Giants - Someone Keeps Moving My Chair (Flood)
Too Much Joy - Pride of Frankenstein (Cereal Killers)
Kevin Kammeraad - Moogie Monster Man (The Tomato Collection)
CandyBand - Monsters (More Candy)
Jack Sheldon - Them Not-So-Dry Bones (Schoolhouse Rock! Science Rock)
They Might Be Giants - Fingertips (Reprise) (Apollo 18)
Monster Mash (Music for Little People)
Telephone Company - Baby Halloween (The King's Surprise?)
Gunnar Madsen - Mayonnaise & Pumpernickel Bread (Ants in My Pants)
They Might Be Giants - Exquisite Dead Guy (Factory Showroom)
Peter Alsop - What If? (Pluggin' Away)
Bill Harley - Monsters in the Bathroom (Play It Again)
Babaloo - Monsters in the Bathroom (Room for Everyone)
Wolf Party (Sun, Sun Shine: Songs for Curious Children)
Belly - Witch (Star)
Daddy A Go-Go - Scaredy Cat Cowboy Part 1 (Mojo A Go Go)
Rockapella - Zombie Jamboree
David Roth - Halloween
Deedle Deedle Dees - Scared of My Own Costume (Let It Dee)
Justin Roberts - Thought It Was A Monster (Yellow Bus)
Milkshake - Scared (Happy Songs)
Steve Weeks - 4 Little Girls (Alphabet Songs Vol. 1)
They Might Be Giants - Skullivan (The Spine Surfs Alone EP)

Spare the Rock 2008

TMBG - It's Spare the Rock
TMBG - Whistling in the Dark
Steve Weeks - 4 Little Girls (Alphabet Songs Vol 1)
Kimya Dawson - Little Monster Babies (Alphabutt)
Deedle Deedle Dees - Scared By My Own Costume (Let It Dee)

Wee Scary Beasties - Pumpkinhead (Creepy Lullabies)
Telephone Company - Baby Halloween (The King's Surprise?)
Roger Day - Monster Face (Ready to Fly)
Ralph's World - Harry's Halloween Circus)
Dr. Strangeblood & the New Zombies - Monster Mash (EP)
Salteens - All My Friends (Yo Gabba Gabba)
Los Straitjackets - Munsters theme
Soccer Team - I'll Never Fear Ghosts Again
Baze & His Silly Friends - Scare Me, Scare You!
Egg - Night Time Party
Jimmies - Soaper the Scaredy-Bot (Make Your Own Someday)
Mike Doughty - Firetruck (Smofe + Smang)

ScribbleMonster - Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child
Justin Roberts - Maybe the Monster (Meltdown!)
Hank Hooper - Human Fly (Playground Fortune Teller)
B-52s - Planet Claire (Anthology)
Lamar Holley - Digestion (Classroom Pop Vol. 1)
Aric Bieganek & Recess Rock - Bright Lights, Big Kitty! (Bright Lights, Big Kitty)
Monty Harper - Trick or Treat Smell My Feet (Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD)
Louis Armstrong - Jeepers Creepers (Back Through the Years)
Telephone Company - Lumberjack (Panda Brain)

Mates of State - Starman
Mighty Weaklings - Monster Under My Bed
Rechov Sumsum with Ronnie Rock - En Den Dino (Sesame Street Playground)
TMBG - The Guitar
TMBG - Spare the Rock

Gwyneth's Halloween set from 2007:
Lager Rhythms - Zombie Jamboree - Aftermath
Steve Weeks - 4 Little Girls - Alphabet Songs Vol. I
Ralph's World - Harry's Haunted Halloween Circus - At The Bottom Of The Sea
ScribbleMonster & His Pals - A Monster Goes Rrraargh! - Best Of Friends
Karl Williams - Merry Halloween - Big Fish Little Fish
Sue Schnitzer - Black Cats, Spiders, and Bats Blues - Boo, Cackle, Trick or Treat
Wendy Rochman and Sue Schnitzer - Your Bones - Boo, Cackle, Trick or Treat
Laurie Berkner - Monster Boogie - Buzz Buzz
C. Shells - Halloween Ghosts - C. Shells
Dan Zanes & Friends - Moonlit Town - Catch That Train!
GeereMusic - Halloween is Magic Time - Celebrate! Vol 1
Family Circus Kids - The Spider - The Complete Lyric Language
Janet Sirett - Another Halloween Night - Creepy Crawly Slimy Things
Brady Rymer - Full Moon Walk - Every Day Is A Birthday
John McCutcheon - Halloween - Four Seasons-Autumn Songs
Carole Peterson - Black Bat Farm (Oct) - H.U.M
DJ Spook A Lot - Skeleton Dance - Halloween For All
The Hipwaders - Howling At The Moon - The Hipwaders
John Bindel, Nashville Chamber Orchestra And Kid Pan Alley - Scary Things - Kid Pan Alley- Nashville
String Bean Jones (With The Lefty Jones Band) - Good Ghosts Here - Live From The Bathtub
Justin Roberts - Maybe The Monster - Meltdown!
Pam Blanchard & the Sunny-Side Up Band - Halloween Waltz - Music Makes Me Happy
Bruce, Troy, and Margaret - Thirty-Six Witches - Now For My Next Number
Steve Songs - One Halloween Night... - On A Flying Guitar
Monty Harper - Trick or Treat Smell My Feet - The Great Green Squishy Mean Concert CD
Steve Blunt and Friends - Pumpkins, Beware! - Outta School!
Sesame Street - The Monster in the Mirror (Grover) - Sesame Street Platinum All-Time Favorites
Brent & Woofy - On Halloween - Shine Shine Shine
Eric Herman And The Invisible Band - Hide And Go Seek With The Moon - Snow Day
Erin Lee & Marci - The Moonlight Wolfbite Batjuice Jamboree - Snowdance
Mary Kaye - The Skeleton Song - Spin Your Web
Thaddeus Rex - The Moon Is Rising - We Wanna Rock
Wee Sing - The Ghosts Go Flying - Wee Sing For Halloween
Danny Adlerman - Pump the Pumpkin
Imagination Movers - Knocking on Your Door 2

Devon has a lot more suggestions, including this list of songs.