Monday Morning Smile: "I Believe in Little Things" - Diana Panton

I Believe in Little Things cover

I Believe in Little Things cover

What was it I said last week?  "More joy."  Well, Joe Raposo makes just about everything more joyful.

Canadian jazz musician Diana Panton turned to Raposo for the title track to her kid-friendly album I Believe in Little Things.  The album was originally released in September 2015, but is going to get a bigger push here south of the Canadian border in 2016, and with tracks like the title track, I think it'll be well-received in the kindie world.

The video for "I Believe in Little Things" is charming and whimsical, and Panton's warm and clear voice elegantly lays out Raposo's masterful lyrics, with Jacqui Lee's illustration a perfect fit.  Definitely an album to look forward to (or hear now, if you don't want to wait).

Diana Panton - "I Believe in Little Things" [YouTube]

Video: "Sheep Don't Wear Shoes" - Marsha Goodman-Wood (World Premiere!)

Though I've been listening to kids music for about 15 years now, I can still be surprised by what tickles my fancy.  What was it then about this video for "Sheep Don't Wear Shoes," a simple little ditty from Marsha Goodman-Wood, off her album Gravity Vacation?  The gentle (though not over-the-top) message of independence?  The big-eyed sheep illustrated by Danielle Dekoker and assembled into video form by fellow kids musician Patricia Shih?  The fact that it stars sheep (I do like my animated sheep)?

I'm still not entirely sure, but I liked it enough to be happy to world-premiere the video this morning.

(Plus, my last name is "Shepherd.")

Marsha Goodman-Wood - "Sheep Don't Wear Shoes" [YouTube]

Video: "Pretend We Forgot" - The Pop Ups

After the surprise release of their wonderful album Great Pretenders Club, all that's left for The Pop Ups to do is release a bunch of fun videos.  The video for "Bird and Rhino" had a distinctive animation style; their new video for "Pretend We Forgot" features some slick dancing from the duo (and, really, mostly) by The Waffle Crew, a group of New York-area dancers.  How would you dance if you forgot how to dance?  The Waffle Crew (and Jacob and Jason) show us the way.

The Pop Ups - "Pretend We Forgot" [YouTube]

Monday Morning Smile: "Lightspeed" - Joel Henriques (World Premiere!)

This may be a first -- a combination Monday Morning Smile and world premiere video.  It's for the song "Lightspeed" from Joel Henriques.  You may know Joel from his own incredibly popular crafting website Made By Joel or the videos he's made for his sister Lori Henriques (I think my favorite is probably "Dinosaur").

Turns out, though, Joel's a bit of a musician himself, and seeing as there's some sort of Star Wars movie coming out later this month, he's gone an rerecorded a song he wrote about 20 years ago recounting the plot of the very first Star Wars movie (Episode IV, to be specific).  "Lightspeed" is a funk-rap with a furious guitar line that recounts the story of Luke, Han, Princess Leia, and a certain Wookiee.  Thrown in Joel dancing with a vintage Millennium Falcon t-shirt and simple animation based on drawings from his 8-year-old son, and it's a fun 2 minutes of pre-Episode VII hoopla.  Not written with kids in mind, but I feel fairly sure that kids'll dig it.

Joel Henriques - "Lightspeed" [YouTube]

Video: "The Adventure Song" - Ben Rudnick and Friends

Ben Rudnick - A Frog Named Sam: Musical for Children cover

Ben Rudnick - A Frog Named Sam: Musical for Children cover

Musicals are the new TV pilots, or so it seemed over the past couple years, as kids music stars no less bright than Laurie Berkner, Justin Roberts, Recess Monkey, and Lunch Money all had (and, I believe, are continuing to have) major roles in new musicals for young audience.

I don't think the trend is stopping, either, as Ben Rudnick is going where the lights are bright... ON BROADWAY!

OK, not really, but his newest album, A Frog Named Sam: A Musical for Children, is released next month, and as you might be able to gather from the album title, it's from a brand-new musical. For children.

Does this musical involve an adventure, a journey?  Judging by the album cover (an alien in a spaceship) and this first song, "The Adventure Song," I think that's a safe bet...

Ben Rudnick and Friends - "The Adventure Song" [YouTube]

Christmas and Holiday Kids Music 2015 (Songs and Videos)

To go along with my reviews of 2015 Christmas and holiday kids music, here are some videos and singles for your further enjoyment.  I'll be adding songs and videos as they're released, so feel free to check back throughout the season (or shout out the new songs I've missed).

First, let's hear from Laurie Berkner, who has a new video for "Children Go Where I Send Thee," a track which appeared on 2012's A Laurie Berkner Christmas and the just released Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs.  Pretty simple -- it features Berkner and regular Berkner bassist (and kindie musician in his own right) Brady Rymer and a bunch of children dancing around happily.

Laurie Berkner (with Brady Rymer) - "Children Go Where I Send Thee" [YouTube]

Next is a song I've already posted the video for, but it definitely merits a repeat mention, and that's "L.A. Christmas" from Andrew & Polly featuring Mista Cookie Jar.  It's a sweet, sunny groove with just enough bells and holiday spirit to make it a nice alternative to a lot of holiday music.

Andrew & Polly and Mista Cookie Jar - "L.A. Christmas" [YouTube]

Of course there are Christmas-themed bands.  The Yule Logs from California have four holiday albums under their belt, and have just released their fifth such album, Up All Night.  The title track is a jangly bit of celebratory nonsense.  The band isn't really a kids band, but this song and video passes the parental test.

Moving from L.A. to N.J., Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam offer up a little bit of The Boss -- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band -- in their appealing single (and track from their forthcoming 2016 album) "Summertime Santa."  Apparently the West Coast isn't the only coast that can offer up a beach-based Christmas celebration.

Speaking of songs featuring Santa mashups, Montana's The Salamanders move out from the beach onto the sea with their holiday single "Pirate Santa."  As with "Summertime Santa," this is hardly a serious take on the holiday season, but combining "Yo Ho Ho" with "Ho Ho Ho" is a pretty good idea.  (The last line, is also a darn good pun.)

And there's no reason why we can't have multiple versions of the same song in a single year, right?  Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem offer up their own take on "Children Go Where I Send Thee" that's a little more pensive and rootsier than Berkner and Rymer's take.  Gotta believe that one of these will be to your family's taste.

We're in the midst of Hanukkah as I add this track, the latest from Jewish-themed rockers The Macaroons.  This year's sing-along track, "Jews All Over the World," does give a shout-out to Hanukkah, but it's got an advantage in that it'd probably sound just as good in May as it does now.  Try saying that about "Last Christmas."

This last embed isn't kindie, but as with most Christmas streams, it's certainly family-friendly.  It's a Spotify playlist from Universal Music's vast library.  At more than 4 hours (!) in length, there's plenty of room for the classics (just look at the first 5 songs in that embed stream) and new songs (e.g., Carly Rae Jepsen's take on Wham's "Last Christmas").

Other Songs/Videos/Album Streams

The Big Cheese Band - "The Christmas Crocodile" [YouTube]

Rockin' Robin & the Magical Tree - "Sparkly Christmas Things" [YouTube]

The Little Ditties - "S'no Day Like It" [Bandcamp]

Andrew & Polly - Other Days [Bandcamp]

Rain for Roots - Waiting Songs [Bandcamp]