One of the toughest things about teaching kids pop music is just finding music that’s appropriate for them to sing. Sure, most of the time I just change a few of the bad words or don’t really discuss with them what the song is about. But sometimes it’s nice to find something that’s actually a positive message they can relate to. Since I know I’m not the only one looking, I’ve spent the last several years coming out with pop songs for kids to sing posts. It’s been a while since the last two, so here’s an updated collection! Not all the songs are current pop hits, but they’re ones my students have often returned to over the years.
“A lot of parents think of Billie Eilish as really dark, but “My Future” is actually a perfect message for children. In the song, Billie sings about her commitment to her future instead of a current relationship.”
1. JUST A CLOUD AWAY, BY PHARRELL WILLIAMS
Given what the last few years have been like, it’s certainly a nice message to hear that “This rainy day is temporary” and that “sun shining through is just a cloud away.” It’s a great message for kids and adults alike.
2. RAINBOW, KACEY MUSGRAVES
While we’re on the topic of the beauty after rain, we might as well include Kacey Musgraves’ soothing “Rainbow.” It’s a country-pop crossover with mass appeal and a wonderful message to keep in mind when things are a little gray.
3. UNSTOPPABLE, SIA
While this song may have been written about a relationship, it could just as easily be about a rocky friendship. The song is about being a survivor, an unstoppable force, even amidst pain and heartbreak.
4. I’M ONLY ME WHEN I’M WITH YOU, TAYLOR SWIFT
Written for her best friend, this song is a lovely celebration of friendship, kindness, and support for and from other people.
5. LISTEN, BEYONCE
Easily the hardest song to sing on this list (and probably most lists), “Listen” isn’t for the feint of heart. In the movie, Dreamgirls, it may have been addressed to a spouse, but this one could just as easily be about empowering yourself and finding your own voice in any situation.
6. THIS IS ME, FROM THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
It may have started as theatrical film music instead of beginning on as a radio hit, but “This is Me” has most definitely become a pop song. Messages can’t get much better than this one for kids: don’t be ashamed of who you are, and don’t let anyone break you down.
7. REMEDY, BY ADELE
Adele wrote “Remedy” for her 3-year-old son, but it could easily be to any loved one: “When the world seems so cruel/And your heart makes you feel like a fool/I promise you will see/That I will be, I will be your remedy.”
8. THUNDER, BY IMAGINE DRAGONS
This one is my 8-year-old son’s favorite. Sometimes we want to dream big and break out of the mold that school and society puts us into. That’s what this fun, catchy song is about.
9. MY FUTURE, BY BILLIE EILISH
A lot of parents think of Billie Eilish as really dark, but “My Future” is actually a perfect message for children. In the song, Billie sings about her commitment to her future instead of a current relationship.
10. LITTLE VOICE, BY SARA BAREILLES (AND SUNG HERE BY BRITTANY O’GRADY)
From the Apple TV+ show, “Little Voice,” this theme song is classic Sara Bareilles, all about missing her little voice and making it heard.
11. DROPS OF JUPITER, BY TRAIN
It’s an older one, but Train songs remain popular. This one has a heartbreaking story—Pat Monahan wrote it about his mother after she passed away from cancer—but the song itself is a lovely fantasy of someone who still exists for you after she’s gone.
12. STAND OUT, BY SABRINA CARPENTER
This one is also a little older (2014), but it’s such an upbeat, fun song with a great message about living life loudly and passionately.
13. COUNTING STARS, BY ONE REPUBLIC
I still get tons of requests to learn this song, even though it came out in 2013. As with many songs by adult male artists, you may need to adjust the key to make it comfortable for a child to sing, but it shouldn’t take much tweaking. Just kicking the low parts up an octave should usually do it.
14. LOST BOY, BY RUTH B
This plaintive, sweet ballad has always been popular with my vocal students. It has a melancholy melody and lyrics that are rich in fantasy.
15. RISE, BY KATY PERRY
“Rise” never quite made it to the level of popularity that some of her other hits, like “Roar” and “Firework” did, but it’s a lovely, challenging song with great kid-friendly lyrics about rising back up, “even when you think the final nail is in.”