When you first pass your test, the correct playlist is essential to the newfound freedom that you gain. As time goes on, you can impress new girlfriends with the in-car mix, and every road trip that you take deserves its own carefully curated audio accompaniment. But it all becomes more difficult when you have kids.
It’s not easy to enjoy your collection of Leonard Cohen B-sides and rarities when you have offspring in the back hollering “BORING!” at every opportunity. Happy kids are the key to a happy car journey. That doesn’t mean that you have to put up with nursery rhymes and the theme tune from PJ Masks on repeat, though, There are songs out there that can appeal to both parents and kids, and get them grooving in their car seats.
Here are some parent-friendly songs that I have discovered through trial and error. Stick these through the speakers and see what happens:
Beastie Boys – Body Movin’ (Fatboy Slim Remix)
There are not many Beastie Boys songs you can happily play to small children. When it comes to adult themes and potty mouths, they almost make it a clean sweep across their whole output. However, Body Movin’ (my kids demand the Fatboy Slim mix) is clean, funky and easy to shuffle your bum to in the car.
Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
New York punks Ramones are seen as the godfathers of the genre. They didn’t shifty many units at first, but their influence is evident in so much guitar music since. It’s unlikely that this rowdy, bickering bunch of cool kids, shredding their instruments in garages in Forest Hills, Queens ever expected this tune would be used to entertain two kids in the back of a Skoda, on the way to a lame provincial theme park, but that’s what happened anyway.
My three-year-old still randomly shouts “HEY HO! LET’S GO!” in the street to this day, thus is the Ramones’ influence on him.
The Specials – A Message to You Rudy
There are a number of different versions of A Message to You Rudy to choose from, and The Specials is our performance of choice. There’s something about a lilting reggae/ska/rocksteady beat that kids seem to enjoy, and this is a firm car seat favourite for us on long journeys.
Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
From the chilled tones of The Specials, to something a bit more euphoric. There is nothing that unites the generations like a hands-in-the-air, shout-along anthem. Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing is that anthem. It contains the big chorus enough times to keep it interesting for the kids as they belt out the words from the car seats en route to your destination.
De La Soul – The Magic Number
The Magic Number is a stone cold belter for parents and kids alike. The original ong on which it is based, by Bob Dorough, was written for a kids’ show, so it is no surprise that children love singing/rapping along with it. It is the sort of song you might have on your own playlists already, so why not add it into your family travel selection to encourage some real car seat wriggling?
Beatles – Twist and Shout
The Beatles span all the generations, from the very elderly to toddlers just starting to learn to shuffle. Their version of Twist and Shout has enough to raw energy to liven up even the dullest drive and the words are easy enough to remember, especially given the call and response nature of the track. Added family points if you can get the adults to do the lines first and then the kids to do the repeats. You will eat up the miles in no time!