Eight Adult-Friendly Kids Albums: Regurgitator, Emma Donovan, Dan Sultan & More

10 June 2024 | 9:00 am | Bryget Chrisfield

Fart jokes, life lessons, sustainable living tips, rave anthems and lullabies – these are the eight kids’ albums we wish were around when we were little.

Regurgitator's Pogogo Show, Teeny Tiny Stevies, Dan Sultan, Emma Donovan

Regurgitator's Pogogo Show, Teeny Tiny Stevies, Dan Sultan, Emma Donovan (Credit: Savannah Van Der Niet, Thom Holt, Clint Peloso, Ian Laidlaw)

More Regurgitator’s Pogogo Show More Regurgitator’s Pogogo Show

What’s that? Music by your fave – and about-to-be-fave – Australian artists, made specifically for children? But we had to settle for Peter Combe, Patsy Biscoe and those compulsory ABC songbook singalong sessions during primary school! Come to think of it, Lonnie Donegan’s Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor definitely slaps. But that song’s an exception. As is Grandma's Feather Bed by John Denver. Classic.

Fart jokes, life lessons, sustainable living tips, language learning ops, rave anthems and lullabies – you’ll find all of the above amongst our selection of eight kids’ albums we wish were around when we were ankle-biters.     

Emma Donovan – Follow The Sun (2022)

That’s not a llama, that's Mum’s alarm clock/ Cockadoodledoo, we’re singing for you…” – you’ve gotta admit Llama Alarm Clock’s got a super-fun ring to it. This upbeat, organ- and ukulele-driven song also includes important info about morning routines – e.g. getting your hair done, having “a little feed”, cleaning your teeth, and grabbing a hat – which could be used as a musical checklist of sorts while getting the kiddos ready for school or daycare.   

A celebration of “Country, kids, language and community”, Follow The Sun contains much-loved classic children's tunes – such as I Can Sing A Rainbow and Once I Caught A Fish Alive (sung in the Noongar and Gumbaynggirr languages respectively) – alongside original songs, which Emma Donovan mostly penned following the birth of her eldest daughter in 2016. “I wanted to write for her,” she explained during an interview, “and I thought about songs I didn’t have at her age growing up, wrote about landmarks and childhood.” 

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This seven-song mini-album explores Aboriginal concepts (see: My Dreaming Place—“When I go out walking on country/ Elders and totems teach me this is my dreaming place…”) while also preserving Indigenous language through music. Donovan’s bilingual take on Baba Blacksheep strikes us as an engaging, organic tool for teaching some Gumbaynggirr language words to youngsters and grownups alike.  

Rabbit Island – Songs For Kids (2020)

Fremantle’s Amber Fresh – who releases music as Rabbit Island – wrote this set of 15 songs for her niece, who was aged two at the time. 

As well as presenting fresh takes on traditional lullabies (e.g. Insywinsy, Twinkle Twinkle, Three Blind Mice), she isn’t afraid to delve deeper with some real talk on Songs For Kids. For instance, Some Days Are Harder Days shares an essential fact of life: “Some days you’ll have to eat cupcakes to feel good/ But that’s alrightNot every day can be the best day/ Feeling sad is fine sometimes…” 

More helpful advice is dished out throughout If You Want A Way To Have A Nice Day (“Smile at somebody/ Help Somebody/ Plant a flower or two…” just a couple of lyrical suggestions). And there’s also some delightful imagery – Little Chicken On Rollerskates, anyone?  

“This music is for adults also,” Fresh has said of Songs For Kids. “We all need comfort and a reminder that plants need water, light, and a song, and to know what noise a camera makes.” 

Not one to throw on when you want the kids to burn off some energy, Songs For Kids is ideal for quiet contemplation time.  

Regurgitator's Pogogo Show – The Really Really Really Really Boring Album (2019)

As Regurgitator, Quan Yeomans and Ben Ely have been cracking themselves and each other up since they first burst onto our airwaves three decades ago. The Gurge have their fingers pressed firmly on the fun button with everything they do, including their ‘adult’ output (e.g. My Friend Robot, Fat Cop, I Like Your Old Stuff Better Than Your New Stuff), so it comes as no surprise that their foray into kids entertainment is an absolute hoot. 

We just love the origin story of Mr Butt, which began its life during a school drop-off many years ago. Ely’s daughter Dee Dee (who was named after the late Ramones bass player, collaborated with her dad on some of The Really Really Really Really Boring Album tracks and also contributed some vocals) recalled during an interview: “We were driving, and we saw a cyclist, and his pants were not where they should be. You could see a lot of crack, and Dad just started tapping on the steering wheel as he usually does and pointing…”

“And I said, ‘Pull your pants up, Mr Butt!’” her dad interjected. “And then we invented this character called Mr Butt, whose pants keep falling down.”

Ghost Cat and Farting Is A Part Of Life are just a couple more noteworthy standout moments within this cheeky set. LOLs are guaranteed throughout this hyper listening experience, which is bound to inspire future creative outliers. But we certainly don’t recommend popping this one on just before bedtime. It’s like handing your kid a jug of supercharged red cordial, no ice.  

Fun fact: We’ve heard a cheekily tweaked Regurgitator song, retitled I Sucked A Lollipop To Get Where I Am, often finds its way onto the Regurgitator's Pogogo Show setlist (iykyk). 

Dan Sultan – Nali & Friends (2019) 

A flatulent baby gorilla called Bwindi? Funny every time. 

Nali & Friends – which Dan Sultan co-wrote with his long-time friend and collaborator, the filmmaker Rhys Graham won 2019’s Best Children’s Album ARIA Award.

This collection of stories about “growing up, protecting our natural world and learning to accept difference” was inspired by the pair's journey through Uganda and Kenya while working with The Thin Green Line Foundation, an international organisation that provides welfare and support to Wildlife Rangers. During this time, they got up close and personal with a plethora of baby animals – cuteness overload!

This record’s narrative arc follows our titular Arctic tern, Nali, as she migrates from the North to the South Pole, gets lost and befriends animals from all over the world. 

Sultan has admitted he found the process of making Nali & Friends “very fulfilling” artistically: "It was one of the most rewarding musical experiences I’ve had to date. I like a lot of different types of music, and what was really refreshing for me was this opportunity to dip into so many musical styles, to represent the various characters’ stories. There’s everything from calypso to flat-out honky-tonk to cinematic ballads with strings.” 

Be sure to check out Ya Ya, Sultan’s bass-slappin’, wah-wah guitar-enhanced banger about a dance-loving panda called Ya Ya

Sultan’s voicework during the interstitial storytimes is top-notch as well. 

Did you know? Sultan has also previously appeared on Play School and Giggle And Hoot and has been featured on The Wiggles track Australia – from 2018’s Wiggle Pop! album – as well. To announce his Wiggles collab, Sultan hilariously posted: “There’s the blue wiggle, the red wiggle, the yellow and the purple wiggle, and now there’s the denim wiggle!”   

Holly Throsby – See! (2010)

Charming in a ye olde kind of way, See! captures childlike wonder with Holly Throsby utilising a broad instrumental palette (including double bass, mandolin, ukulele and music box), animal sound effects and many children’s voices. 

Some songs are built around words that are satisfying to sing (see: Putt Putt). During Fish And Mice, kids shout out corrections (“MICE!”) to incorrect plurals (“mouses”) to adorable effect. The jaunty, cute-as-a-button Diamonds Are So Shiny features a tuneful kiddos choir.  

Carrots so bright makes your eyesight/ Sharper than the sharpest knife” – having trouble convincing your children to eat their veggies? During the Darren Hanlon-featuring Hello Tiger, Throsby gives parents a helping hand.

See! also features guest appearances from Jack Ladder (Drum Lesson), J Walker and Margaret Throsby (Holly's mum).

Let Throsby’s soothing vocals help quieten busy young minds.  

Here’s a testimonial from Clare Bowditch: “See! is a worthy investment in parental mental health. It’s wonderful.”

Big Kids – Dance Party (2020)

Featuring members of Vallis Alps, Mansionair and breathe, Big Kids drop fat beats for future ravers. Their goal? To make “danceable, educational kids' music with a social conscience for parents and children alike”. 

Eat the pizza/ Eat the pizza/ Eat the pizza/ Garlic bread”—thanks to their typically super-simple, repetitive lyrics, these songs are perfectly suited to toddlers.  

We Are The Animals reminds listeners to live in harmony with wildlife, and you can’t help but cut sick during Noodles – what a belter! Everyone should introduce the young people in their lives to the joy of movement and jumping around through Dance Party, for sure. Just be mindful that they’ll probably steal your moves, so make an effort.   

Various Artists — The Moon, The Mouse & The Frog: Lullabies From Northern Australia (2021) 

Both established and emerging Indigenous artists perform The Moon, The Mouse & The Frog: Lullabies From Northern Australia, a collection of calming songs sung in traditional languages, ranging from Larrakia (Darwin) to Kunwinjku (Western Arnhem Land). 

As the first women from their community to play instruments and form their own group, the Ripple Effect Band from Maningrida in Arnhem Land contributed Nabárrdja (The Little Crab). This song was written for the young sons of Ripple Effect Band member Rona Lawrence in their Na-kara language.

There’s animal sounds, glorious harmonies and softly strummed melodies – it’s so incredibly calming! If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, The Moon, The Mouse & The Frog: Lullabies From Northern Australia should do the trick.  

Teeny Tiny Stevies – The Green Album (2024) 

You might be familiar with The Little Stevies, the “adult band” that sisters Bethany Beth’ and Sybilla ByllStephen (aka Teeny Tiny Stevies) also play in. 

As Teeny Tiny Stevies, the Stephen sisters’ goal is to support what we’re already teaching the kids in our lives while prioritising hooks, both musical and lyrical. 

Released earlier this year to coincide with Earth Day (22 April), The Green Album is Teeny Tiny Stevies’ response to the endless requests they often received via their socials for songs about sustainability.  

First you have a few/ Then 102/ Now you need to spew/ Yeah, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing..” – haha, how relatable are those lyrics!? Too Much Of A Good Thing is a hilarious cautionary tale about the consequences of overindulgence. Elsewhere, Teeny Tiny Stevies tackle topics such as climate change, how to better nurture our planet, composting, and overcoming being overwhelmed. But Teeny Tiny Stevies always deliver these important environmental messages without being judgy.

The Green Album is guaranteed to lighten the mood during long family drives. Heck, even us so-called grownups will learn a thing or two by giving it a spin!