10 Most Surprising Artists To Appear on Children's Albums

Filed under: Music


Thanks to talented artists like They Might Be Giants, Lisa Loeb and Jack Johnson, it's no longer uncool for mainstream musicians to record children's songs. Still, every now and again you see a name on a kids' CD and do a double-take ("Really? Them?"). Sometimes these crossover experiments work out to surprisingly fantastic results. Other times, not so much. Here are 10 of the most surprising artists to pay a visit to Wiggles territory.

1. Lou Reed ("What a Wonderful World," on Night Time by Dan Zanes, 2002) - Part of what made Dan Zanes a megastar in the world of kids' music has been his ability to snag high profile guest stars. But Lou Reed is arguably his biggest "get." Few folks more underground than the frontman of the Velvet Underground. Here, he sort of half-sings, half-talks his way through a cover of the old Louis Armstrong hit, sounding strangely off rhythm at times. It's far from the best track on the album, but I'd hazard a guess that Reed didn't stick around for more than one take.


2. Tom Waits ("Bend Down the Branches," on For the Kids, 2002) - This lullaby from the huskiest-voiced man alive is sweet in its own way, but also has the potential to frighten some small children.
3. Perry Farrell & Deborah Harry ("The Patience Bossa," on Kidzapalooza , 2009) - The man who fronted the bands Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros defied expectations when he founded the Kidzapalooza music festival. His funky Latin-esque duet with Blondie vocalist Deborah Harry is wickedly cool.
4. Philip Glass ("A Place for Us," on House Party by Dan Zanes, 2003) - Glass doesn't sing, but what the legendary avant-garde composer does here is whip out a crazy organ solo -- which is why we have a track on a children's CD that is over six minutes long.
5. Meredith Brooks (If I Could Be... 2007) - Ten years after making parents cover their children's ears with her one-hit-wonder song, "Bitch," Meredith Brooks decided to actually sing songs kids could hear. Well, I guess she did also sing, "I'm a child, I'm a mother."
6. Rosey Grier ("It's Alright to Cry," on Free to Be You and Me , 1972) - A classic. The then-NFL defensive lineman's earnest, un-self-conscious vocal performance made for one of the most endearing moments in music history.
7. Scott Bakula ("Pig Island," on Philadelphia Chickens by Sandra Boynton & Friends, 2004) - Who knew the guy from Quantum Leap could sing? Seriously, he's got a good voice. Men of a Certain Age has been remiss in not staging a karaoke scene yet.
8. The Verve Pipe (A Family Album, 2009) - This band's melancholy 1992 breakout hit, "The Freshmen," about teen pregnancy, abortion and suicide, wasn't exactly family friendly. Surprise, surprise -- their new totally kid-appropriate CD is wow-inducingly awesome. One of the best kids' albums in years.
9. Sandra Bernhard ("Thrift Shop," on Family Dance by Dan Zanes, 2001) - The comedienne and professional provocateur might have been one of Zanes's strangest collaborative choices, but she sounds good on what is arguably the album's most fun track.
10. Brian Johnson of AC/DC ("If I Had a Hammer," on Love & Peace: Greatest Hits for Kids , 2010) - With only slightly less scratchy vocals than Tom Waits, Johnson takes a break from the Highway to Hell to sing with a choir of children. It is both strange and adorable.

Related: Music Review: Love & Peace/Pickin' and Grinnin'

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.