If the CD rotation in the car is getting old, there are some fantastic new music releases for kids just in time for back to school that can liven up the journey. Because really, kids can only take so much NPR before they need an outlet.
Whether you make a mixed CD for the car ride to school or download these tunes to your little one's iPod, here are my picks to create the best back to school mix for your grade school hipster:
Alan Cohen Experience -- Arrows of Time
In stores tomorrow, the Alan Cohen Experience's new record Space and Time was inspired by Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time. Yes, really. So your little ones will get their science fix as they bounce along to the swinging tune that explains what the heck Hawking was trying to tell us.
Oran Etkin -- Wake Up, Clarinet
When he's not teaching music classes to kids in NYC, Etkin is composing narratives with his clarinet and other musical friends. Etkin anthropomorphized his clarinet in this jazzy, call and response tune on the album of the same name, in stores on September 14. While emphasizing entertainment over instruction, Etkin's compositions still taught me more about recognizing the clarinet in the mix than I ever knew when I actually played the clarinet for six years.
Jeremy Plays Guitar -- Say Hello
Good lessons abound in Jeremy Plays Guitar's new record Use Your Words in stores September 28. You can throw on the entire album in the car ride for all of your little ones, but "Say Hello" is the perfect way to get your kiddo to properly greet new people on the first day of school.
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo -- Noise
The Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti CD is filled to the brim with great kid music, and for a fantastic cause. You can teach your kiddos about helping others, while also letting them get their beat on with Secret Agent 23 Skidoo's jam, "Noise."
Yo Gabba Gabba -- Happy Birthday
If part of your pre-school experience included Toodee, Muno, Brobee, Foofa, Plex, and DJ Lance, you're going to want to comfort your school-bound kindergartner with the familiar tunes of Yo Gabba Gabba Music Is Awesome Vol. 2 that hits stores tomorrow. Put on "Happy Birthday" by the Ting Tings so your kid can pull out a new version and wow the other cupcake-eaters at the classroom bday parties.
I Wanna Be Like You from The Jungle Book
Disney just released a CD filled with songs by the infamous Disney villains, and while the Siamese Cat song from Lady and the Tramp may be your favorite, I'm going with "I Wanna Be Like You" for the mix. Give your kids a real history lesson and lesson in independence by cranking the monkey song and talking about the silliness of it all (and if they're old enough, address the controversy).
Brian Wilson -- I Got Rhythm
The Beach Boy does Gershwin (or "re-imagines," as the album title tells us) in a flowy, laid-back yet layered way you've come to expect from one of America's musical geniuses. "I Got Rhythm" is a bouncy classic that is incredibly fun for an after school sing-along.