5 ways to create the perfect family playlist

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Every year, summer road trips are planned, bags are packed and families pile into the car.

As the family heads toward the highway, a parent turns on the radio or pops in a favorite CD. Protests mount from the back of the car. A few fumbles later, the radio lands on a "cool" station and out blasts a string of hyper-sexualized, possibly violent lyrics, super-teen manufactured pop music, or worse -- endless renditions of Mary Had a Little Lamb sung by an eager, if not talented, chorus of kids.

The kids are in heaven. And the parents, well, a place further south.

Avoid the radio tug-o-war with a little prep work. By creating a playlist before a trip, parents can find music everyone enjoys while filtering out any questionable or cheesy music.

  1. Play music that is upbeat and fun.

    It makes the trip go faster and keeps the driver awake.

  2. Mix it up.

    Music from different genres will not only satisfy everyone's tastes, it will help foster an appreciation for all kinds of music.

  3. Keep it clean.

    While it may be your new favorite song, think about whether it's good for the little people. Seems obvious, and while the 2-year-old may not understand what the lyrics mean, she will be sure to repeat them to everyone, often, and in public. Does Grandma really need to hear Sex Therapy coming from the mouth of her precious beubulah?

  4. Ask.

    Ask your kids about their favorite songs. Take care to not show signs of annoyance. This is an opportunity for discussion, especially for teens and preteens. "What do you like about the song? Do you understand the lyrics? What do they mean to you?"

  5. Give it a test run.

    Don't spring the highly researched, painstakingly-crafted songlist of the century on the cross-country trip to Wally World. Give it a test drive around the block and on trips to the grocery store. If the car is groovin' you've got a hit. If the car is miserable, you've got time to revamp.

Keep your sanity with these playlists

Grown-up bands sing kids songs

  • Here Come the 1.2.3s, Here Come Science, and more, by They Might Be Giants
  • House Party, Smile, Smile, Smile, by Dan Zanes
  • Snack Time, by Barenaked Ladies
  • Mary Had a Little Amp, by various artists including Maroon 5, R.E.M, Bonnie Raitt
  • Leadbelly Sings for Children, by Leadbelly
  • Catch the Moon, by Lisa Loeb

Old school wonders

  • The Beatles
  • Bob Marley
  • Michael Jackson
  • Temptations
  • James Brown
  • Mamas and the Papas
  • Diana Ross and the Supremes
  • Bee Gees

Parents' suggestions

  • Joy to the World, by Three Dog Night
  • Sledgehammer, by Peter Gabriel
  • Rock Me Amadeus, by Falco
  • Elizabeth Mitchell
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Call Me, by Blondie
  • 70s station on
  • Sirius Radio
  • Smooth, by Santana featuring Rob Thomas
  • Cowboy Take Me Away, by Dixie Chicks
  • Boom Boom Pow, by The Black Eyed Peas
  • The Climb, by Miley Cyrus
  • Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, by B.J Thomas

Hip hop hungry

  • Rapper's Delight, by Sugar Hill Gang
  • Jump on It, by Sugar Hill Gang/Apache
  • Now That We Found Love and Nuttin' But Love, by Heavy D and the Boyz
  • The Choice Is Yours, by Black Sheep
  • Parents Just Don't Understand, by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince


  • The Fresh Beat Band
  • Yo Gabba Gabba
  • School House Rock