The Best Music for a Kids Dance Party? Heck Yeah!

NOTE: This list was originally compiled in 2011, but I thought it would be do a 2013 upate—click here for the same list but with some more current tunes at the end! I wanted to keep this one up because there are some great reader suggestions in the comments at the end! Here is also a super cool idea—Griffin’s Rad Rock-n-Roll Birthday Bash!

Recently I’ve gotten a handful of emails asking me, “What would be fun, “non-kid” music to play at a birthday party??” Music that is still kid-friendly and appropriate, of course! Given the cool rock-n-roll birthday party I posted earlier today, I thought it would be fun to compile a Master List of some tunes that are super rockin’ for party go-ers of all ages. Our mission? Get the kids AND parents dancing! Here were our guidelines:

1. Kiddo-friendly. Nothing overly dour, slow or with inappropriate lyrics.

2. Upbeat! Silly! Fun! High energy music that is great for boppin’ around to.

3. Sing-a-long factor! If it has an easy chorus, bonus points!

4. Parent pleasing. I love a good round of Farmer in the Dell as much as the next gal, but it’s kind of nice to rock out to grown up tunes, no?

5. Recognizable. Nothing super obscure or too indie. Your child may love Yoshimi Battle’s the Pink Robots, but we wanted a mix that everyone could relate to.

Please note! This list is not about me impressing you with my hipster/indie music street cred. This is about inspiring kiddo’s with fun jams and giving your cool meter a shove and allowing yourself to embrace the cheesy goodness of pop! I’ve broken this down by decade—feel free to mix and match for your own Mega Mix!

[Unfortunately I can’t give you the tracks, but I’m happy to help you track ’em down if you need ’em.] Let’s go!

The 1950s/60s

Goofy, bouncy and pretty darn wholesome. What’s not to love? There are a zillion more I’m missing, but these should get you started!

“La Bamba” -Richie Valens

“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash (perfect for young Woody & Jessie fans….)

“Twist and Shout” – The Beatles (really you can’t go wrong with any Beatles song!)

“Wipe Out” – The Ventures

“Build Me Up Buttercup” – Foundation

“The Loco-Motion” – Little Eva

“Hound Dog” – Elvis Presley

“Day-O” – Harry Belafonte

“I’m A Believer” – The Monkees

“The Twist” – Chubby Checker

“Magic Carpet Ride” – Steppenwolf

“Sugar, Sugar” – The Archies


The 1970s

Classic Rock. Disco. Punky. Funky. The Seventies had it all—and these groovy tunes make for an amazing kiddo dance party. Start with some bad ass classics, so the dads can feel cool, and by the time you throw on that LIPPS Inc., they won’t even know what hit ’em!

“Bliztkrieg Bop” – The Ramones. “HEY! HO! Let’s GO!” The classic anthem that’s is guaranteed to get kids rockin’. But really any Ramones song. Right?

“Rock & Roll All Night” – KISS

“We Will Rock You. “ – Queen

“You Shook Me All Night Long.” – AC/DC

“I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow

“One Way or Another” – Blondie

“Shake Your Booty” – KC & the Sunshine Band

“Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees

“Dancing Queen” -ABBA

“YMCA” – Village People

“Car Wash” – Groovy tune and hey, you just might get a clean car outta the deal too. Not too shabby!

“Le Freak (Freak Out)” – Chic

“You’re the One That I Want” – Grease Soundtrack

“Rock the Boat” – Hues Corporation. I had no idea who sang this song, I just knew that every kid loves to “Rock the boat, don’t tip the boat ovah!!”

“We Are Family” – Sister Sledge

“Funky Town” – Lipps Inc.

You see where I’m going here, right? DISCO = AWESOME DANCE PARTY.

The 1980s

Ah, the 80s. If disco’s not your bag, go for the candy colored goodness of a new wave dance party. You get the big nostalgia factor of your elementary school/junior high memories—and who doesn’t love to watch little kid’s chanting, “Hungry Like the WOLF! Hungry Like the WOLF!!”

“That’s What I Like About You” – Romantics

“Blinded Me With Science” – Thomas Dolby

“Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats

“Get Into The Groove” – Madonna

“C’mon Eileen” – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

“Hungry Like the Wolf” – Duran Duran

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

“We Got the Beat” – The Go-Gos

“Mickey” – Toni Basil

“You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi

“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor

“Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.

“Footloose” – Kenny Loggins

“Flashdance” – Irene Cara

“Stray Cat Strut” – Stray Cats

“Jump” – Van Halen

“Busta Move” – Young MC

“Walkin on Sunshine”- Katrina and the Waves

Tip: any song that has a verb in the title is a guaranteed booty shaker: JUMP! STRUT! WALK! BUSTA MOVE! You get the idea…

Modern Stuff

OK. So maybe you want something a little more au courant. I admit, some of these are cheesers—and while they may not be my own personal faves, remember IT’S FOR THE KIDDOS!!!! (ok fine. I’ve been known to rock the vaccum to Katy Perry. What??)

“Firework” – Katy Perry

“Dynamite” – Taio Cruz (get the clean version)

Just Dance” or “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga (get the clean versions)

“Please Don’t Stop the Music” – Rihanna

“Hey Ya”-  Outkast

“Sweet Escape” – Gwen Stefani

“Life is a Highway” Rascal Flatts. If your child has seen the movie Cars, then you’ll know that this song is pretty cute.

“Me Myself and I” – De La Soul (I skipped the 90s but here are a few tunes I had to throw in!)

“Groove is in the Heart” – Deeelite

“D.A.N.C.E” – Justice

“Kids” – MGMT (awesome song—but warning, avoid the music video. It’s very disturbing!)

“I Like to Move It”- Madagascar Soundtrack

“Cha Cha Slide” – Mr. C the Slide Man (yeah, I had to look that up….I had NO CLUE who did that song!)

“Hey Soul Sister”- Train

“A Punk” – Vampire Weekend

“I Got A Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas

SIDEBAR: I can’t watch the Black Eyed Peas any more without thinking of that SNL skit. If you haven’t seen it, seriously, watch it now. SO FUNNY. But  ya know, the kids love to jump around to them. And Fergie was super sweet when we shot a commercial with her [OOF! NAME DROP!] so yeah, BEP make the list.

Michael Jackson.

The dance master. The one. The only.

The man gets his own category. ABC, I Want You Back and Rockin’ Robin from The Jackson 5. Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough and Rock With You, from Off the Wall. Beat It. Thriller. Black & White. The list is endless. You can’t go wrong with Michael, people.


As a little surprise, I love to throw on some TV and movie theme songs—it always brings a smile and a “Hey!!! I know this!” If you have a really little one, think Little Einsteins, Backyardigans, Yo Gabba Gabba etc. You can also go for Disney classics—Supercalifragilistic, Under the Sea, The Tiki Room Theme Song, Yo Ho Pirates of Carribean song etc. Slightly older kids will get a kick outta things like the classic “Spiderman” song, or the theme song from their favorite cartoons (like Pokemon or Ben 10, both of which are surprisingly 80s rockin’…)

Whew! So that’s my list. I know there is a ton of great stuff I didn’t include—but hopefully this will get you started. Help me fill in the blanks! Leave a comment with the songs you and your kiddos like to rock out to!

Oh, and fun party tip. Play FREEZE DANCE with the kids. It’s a game I invented in 1985 (well, OK, I probably didn’t invent it….but back no one in Flint, Michigan had ever heard of my fabulous creation…haha). ANYWAY, you play music, get every one to dance/hop/boogie, and when the music stops everyone has to FREEZE! Until the music starts again. Kids LOVE this game. Trust me….

44 thoughts on “The Best Music for a Kids Dance Party? Heck Yeah!

  1. I love this! You totally nailed it, Alix!
    I’ve got to add some of my old favorites too…..

    “School’s Out”- Alice Cooper
    “Walk Like an Egyptian”- The Bangles
    “Good Vibrations”- Beach Boys
    “Heart of the Country”- Paul McCartney & Wings (…”Too Many People” is also pretty great!)
    and of course there’s “Octopus’s Garden” -the Beatles

  2. We’ve been digging They Might Be Giants Here Comes Science, the ABCs and the 123s. They’re geared toward kids but are actually really good songs. Favorites of ours–RoyGBiv and Electric car.

    Also, the Clash Rock the Casbah, Ingrid’s favorite song!!

    One more thing, the picture of Duran Duran is giving me severe flashbacks to the room I shared with my sister. She had a subscription to Bop and Tiger Beat and plastered the walls with all things Duran Duran in the 80s. It was creepy getting dressed with them staring at me all the time.

    1. We loooooooove They Might Be Giants too! Here come the ABCs was on heavy rotation and TMBG were officially Wolfie’s first live band! (they were doing an instore concert and book signing at Borders when wolfie was one! hee)

      YES to Rock the Casbah!!!! totally add it to the list.

  3. Love this! I made a series of CDs for my friends’ kids like this–I called them “Big Kids.” And Octopus’ Garden and Walk Like an Egyptian were both on the list. Also adding “C’mon A My House” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

  4. nice! so funny we both blogged chic on the same day!? why am i still surprised at our psychic connection. but is nile rodgers following YOU on twitter? (i have no idea why he’s following me – but i don’t question it, i just DANCE!)

    1. I know, right? How weird. Mr. Rodgers isn’t following me on twitter but I swear he was following me down the street the other day!!

      I know you are not a modern music fan, so I promise to follow up my Pop Cheese List with a “Cool Tunes from the Parents Record Collection” mix that is great for kiddos. Perhaps I can enlist your help, Mellow Yellow???

  5. Great list!! Another suggestion is The Kinks. My husband and I realized they have a TON of cool, kid friendly songs such as:

    “Last of the Steam Powered Trains”
    “Animal Farm”
    and our kid really loves
    “Phenomenal Cat”

    Those are just a few but I think there are many more that we’ve enjoyed with our son!

  6. i know it’s kind of campy, but for the kids’ bday party last year, i made a cd of bday songs and was surprised by how much i liked it. oliver still likes to pull it out to dance to. the beatles, tender forever, steppenwolf, jens lekman, altered images, sufjan stevens, the idle race, the innocence mission, the ting tings, and a couple of others.

    holy cow. i just realized i didn’t include the sugarcubes “birthday”. shame on me for forgetting my roots.

  7. This is something we have been worried about, my partner and I are scared to death of Beiber Feever and guess we never thought about playing all the music we love. Good job ladies!!

  8. This list was awesome. We are planning a fairly large Halloween party for the kiddos this Friday and I am so glad I found this list. Itunes is going to make some money tonight. 🙂 Thanks so much.

  9. Great list, very useful. I needed a list dance tracks good for children for kindergarten concert dance item and this list is beyond my dreams! Thankx! Rock on!

  10. Love the list. A few of the songs suggested sparked my memory of similar titles that might be popular; How about “Eagle Rock” by Daddy Cool, and “Our House” by Madness? I’m tring to think of more to add!

  11. Thanks so much for making the list. It helped me lot. I think that “Land of 1000 Dances” by Wilson Pickett would be a great addition to the list.

  12. Thanks so much for this – great help as I plan my little man’s 6th birthday disco party!

    Obviously you might want to add a few more modern ones – as his main request is for nothing more than “Gangnam Style!!”

  13. Great list! I’d also include ‘Dirty Old Town,” by David Byrne, and “Let’s Twist Again,” by Chubby Checker (better than the original Twist, in my humble opinion…)

  14. “Happy” – Pharrel Williams
    “Stompa” – Serena Ryder
    “Mountain Sound” – Of Monsters and Men
    “Girls Chase Boys” – Ingrid Michaelson (oh why not 🙂
    “Whose Johnny” – El Debarge (1980s)

    1. Ah, I was talking about the Radio Edit (which def does NOT drop the F-bomb!). Good point to make sure to always get the clean/radio edit versions of modern day songs!

    2. The Just Dance version says, “what the FOLK came here to do,” and in the hundred times my kids and I have danced it, I never thought folk was a replacement word. It actually makes more sense than the original. The more you know…

  15. Whatever you do, DO NOT let them see the video for ‘“Kids” – MGMT.’

    That’ll give me nightmares let alone a child… Please add some kind of warning note in the text.

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