My Favorite (and the Best?) Kids Music of 2017

This past year has been challenging in terms of writing about kids music here at the site.  There are a variety of reasons for that -- you can read this post for a few thoughts in that regard -- but the fact remains I haven't reviewed as many albums.  I'm still receiving -- and listening to -- a lot of kids music, but those thoughts haven't been translated into words on a screen.  It took me, sadly, 'til the end of April 2017 to write up thoughts on the best kids music of 2016, for an album award year that ended more than 6 months before.

As for this most recent year, I did once again submit my votes for the annual Fids and Kamily Awards I co-coordinate.  You can read all about the 2017 Fids and Kamily Award winners here, but I do feel compelled to list my own ballot in the same year the awards were announced.  (Small victories, amirite?)

Looking over this list, I'm once again struck by how my own personal favorites once again fell back on familiar and long-time names....

This Podcast Has Fleas... Will It Have Legs?

This Podcast Has Fleas logo

This Podcast Has Fleas logo

Once NPR and WHYY and WBUR and Gimlet threw their (porkpie?) hats into the kids' music ring, could fellow podcasting all-star WNYC be far behind?

Of course not.

This morning sees the official launch of their first podcast, This Podcast Has Fleas, with a whole bunch of star power, including Jay Pharaoh and Alec Baldwin.  What's it all about?  Well, the promo copy describes it succinctly:

What happens when rival pets have dueling podcasts? Find out as Jones (Jay Pharoah), a slick cat with a taste for auto tune, faces off with Waffles (Emily Lynne), a dog who can’t help chewing her microphone.

As you might guess from that copy and the promotional audio trailer below, it's a comedic (and fictional) podcast.

The first episode actually dropped on Saturday, with the second episode out this morning.  Entertainment Weekly reports that it's a limited-run series -- six episodes -- which strikes me as a perfect length for this concept, which could be wonderful, or could wear out its welcome by the sixth episode.  But based on the smartly-produced first episode, which quickly set up the setting and the stakes, and had its fair share of laughs (your local 7-year-old will go nuts), I don't think it'll have any problem keeping listener interest over the series length.

Now I will note that the concept of a canine with social media/entertainment savvy is not entirely original -- hi, Dog With a Blog!, hello, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman!  In fact, the announcer's voice in the trailer sounds suspiciously like Ruff's (though I think it's Eugene Mirman's, who's also on the show).  But it's the mid-2010s now, podcasting is the new blogging, doncha know?

Here's hoping that it does well and that its sister show, Pickle, which is an Americanized relaunch of Zooglobble favorite Short & Curly, made in partnership with some of the same Australian producers and talent from the original show, has a successful launch starting December 11.  I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a little friendly kids' network competition, though hopefully that competition's a little more cooperative than that of the dog and the cat are at the start of this series.

Best Children's Album Nominees - 60th Grammy Awards

Since the Grammy Awards are celebrating their 60th awards on January 28, 2018, will they celebrate the Diamond Jubilee by giving all the winners diamond-encrusted-megaphone Grammy Awards?  That would certainly raise the suspense and interest in the winners, even in the smaller categories, up a notch.

But, sadly, I'm guessing the Recording Academy will not go to any such length, but we can still note the announcement of the 5 nominees for Best Children's Album.

Top Kids and Family Podcasts (November 2017)

Squeaking this in juuuuust under the wire, it's my November list of the top-ranked podcasts for kids and families.  (For those of you interested, here is October's list of top-ranked kids and family podcasts.)

If you're looking for a podcast for kids, you could -- and should! -- of course look at my list of podcasts for kids (now above 125!), but if that's a bit overwhelming, try the podcasts listed below, or the official Kids Listen app, featuring shows from Kids Listen members.  Popularity isn't always synonymous with quality, but you could do much worse than dipping into the shows ranked below -- many of which are Kids Listen members -- to start out.

At 18 ranked shows, November continues to be just shy of June's all-time high of 19 ranked shows.  (That means 18 shows that appeared in the top 100 of both the iTunes and Stitcher "kids and family" charts when I checked it.)  The total number of podcasts listed below is 37, just 1 shy of October's new record.  While only one podcast hit the overall iTunes Top 200 (down from 4 in July and August), and the Top 200 Kids & Family chart featured 43 shows, down from August's 45-show record, the Stitcher total of 30 was 3 higher than the previous record.

As always: this is a blunt instrument, combining pure rankings from two fairly opaque charts, and for a variety of reasons has only marginal value as a measure of quality.  (Results compiled from Top 100 podcasts on United States iTunes and Stitcher "kids and family" charts on Thursday, November 30, 2017.  Podcasts that appear on both charts are ranked below; remaining podcasts only appeared on one list.  Of special note: Dream Big appeared on iTunes' overall Top 200 and is #1 on the Kids and Family chart, but not at all on Stitcher's family list, so for that podcast at least, this list certainly underplays its popularity.)  Anyway: grain of salt noted.

Two other reminders:

1.  If you're looking for a list that has most (or all) of these podcasts, check out my comprehensive list of podcasts for kids.

2. If you're interested in the future of podcasts for kids, you might be interested in Kids Listen, a grassroots organization of podcasters and folks like me interested in helping high-quality audio for children thrive.  We're looking for other interested folks -- producers or otherwise -- to join in!

With that out of the way, let's get to the chart.

1. Wow in the World

2. Stories Podcast

3. Brains On!

4. Story Pirates

5. Storynory

6. Circle Round

7. Story Time

8.  Tumble

9. The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian

10. The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

11. Eleanor Amplified

12. The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd

13. Little Stories for Tiny People

14. Peace Out

15. What If World

16. Ear Snacks

17.  Short and Curly

18. Bedtime Stories Cozy Corner Podcast

Others (listed alphabetically): 1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales, Activated Stories, Bedtime History, Book Club for Kids, But Why, By Kids For Kids Story Time, Children Stories and Joyful Podcast, The Cramazingly Incredifun Sugarcrash Kids, Disney Story Central, Dream Big, Family Folk Tales, Mick Munster Monster Hunter, Official Adventures in Odyssey, Podcast Kid, Spare the Rock Spoil the Child, Sparkle Stories, Summer Reading, That Story Show, This Podcast Has Fleas

Monday Morning Smile: "Obsession" - OK Go

Time once again for the Official Band of Zooglobble's Monday Morning Smile, OK Go!  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the band released their latest video off their album, Hungry Ghosts, for the song "Obsession."  This one stars the band and 567 printers.  I don't think it quite reaches the giddy, hit-the-repeat-button-immediately heights of, say, "The One Moment," or "This Too Shall Pass," but it's a lot of fun regardless.

OK Go - "Obsession" [YouTube]

Video: "The Quest for the Missing Polka-Dotted Pink Sock" - Mista Cookie Jar (World Premiere!)

Mista Cookie Jar on bed

Mista Cookie Jar on bed

It's a new video for Black Friday from Mista Cookie Jar!  Now, I can hear you thinking, "Why would a song about a missing sock be the basis for a Black Friday-themed video?"  Well, that's because the song got its first life as a premiere on K. Bell Socks.  And not that I'm going to shill for socks, but socks are both stocking stuffers and stockings, so there is a certain seasonal appropriateness to the subject.

More importantly, like most of MCJ's work, it's great fun to listen to and dance to.  And, in the case of this World Premiere, watch... to.  Or something like that.  Enjoy!

Mista Cookie Jar - "The Quest for the Missing Polka-Dotted Pink Sock" [YouTube]