Attention, new moms: I know that you think you have to listen to kiddie music with your little ones all the time, but you know what? You don’t! They’re kids, so they have no say. And they’ll be fascinated—or completely uninterested—in whatever you’re doing. Might as well make it fun for you!
I certainly do. I mean, I’m older and (ahem) wiser, and I have totally awesome taste in music. In fact, it would be some sort of child neglect if I didn’t expose my kids to it. I think of it as the cultural equivalent of making sure they eat their vegetables or learn their ABCs.
These 10 classics from the ’80s that have provided my kids with an invaluable education…and maintained whatever shreds sanity I have left.
It’s an ’80s anthem. For what, I have no idea—cute but kinda dumb guys? Cheerleaders? Who knows!—but I’ve always loved it. And when I sing it, my newborn immediately stops fussing. My 3-year-old son also says it’s his favorite song and even named one of his stuffed animals Toni Basil. Seriously. Mommy win!
TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART
Everyone needs a good karaoke song in their back pocket, and this is it. There’s no way you can’t sing this with your whole heart and soul, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a bit off-key in places. Surely my kids will thank me for this some day.
I LOVE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
I don’t love country music. I don’t love hip-hop. I don’t love rap. I love rock and roll. The sooner that my children understand this, the better off we will all be.
I’m a goofball and proud of it. Also, singing this to a newborn eventually produces a preschooler who does a ton of imaginative play as a Ghostbuster and who says amazing things like: “Whew, glad we got him. That was a freaky ghost.”
I won’t lie: I sing along to this one when I’m in danger of losing my mind. Up all night? Check. Covered in spit-up? Yep. The 3-year-old broke the couch after using it as a trampoline? Awesome. Kids, if you can’t find me, I’ve checked myself into the local mental institution…where there’s quiet and sleep and oh-so-fashionable straightjackets.
HAZY SHADE OF WINTER
The killer harmonies appeal to the high school chorus nerd in me, but if I’m being completely honest, I particularly love this song because it makes me cry—like, ugly-teenage-angst cry. Why? Less Than Zero, obviously. If the tragedy of Julian’s life doesn’t get you all verklempt, we can’t be friends.
THE HEART OF ROCK & ROLL
Huey Lewis with a saxophone. Enough said.
(I’VE HAD) THE TIME OF MY LIFE
Let’s focus on the non-dirty parts of Dirty Dancing here—the idea that you should embrace love and life and the invaluable lesson that no woman should never allow herself to be put in a corner. Plus, duets are really fun to sing in the car.
Show of hands: Who else taped the video premiere on their very new VCR back in 1983? It was awesome, and it still holds up. (Not accepting arguments to the contrary at this time.) It’s vicarious chills and thrills for kids—kind of like playing peek-a-boo, only with moonwalking zombies and a really catchy tune.
LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER
As Bon Jovi croons about Tommy and Gina, you’re listening to a story disguised as a song. It’s practically literature, people. And here comes the old-lady in me: They just don’t make rock songs like they used to!