One of my earliest memories consists of riding around in my mom’s old white Volvo screaming the lyrics to Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel.” My brothers and I knew every word and bopped around in the backseat having the time of our lives. The beat was funky and we just felt so… cool.
It seems like in the ’80s and ’90s, it was a whole lot easier to let your kids listen to the radio. Sure, there were some songs back then that were about sex and drugs, but most of them weren’t making it onto pop stations. We may not be able to say the same for Brown’s personal life, but even the lyrics to his songs back then were pretty clean. And, hey, we were listening to him back in the dark ages before the internet, so we were blissfully unaware of what went on behind the scenes.
Fast-forward to today, and when you turn the radio on with kids in the car, it’s a total cringefest. If you’ve ever heard a child under the age of 8 sweetly sing all of the lyrics to Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High),” then you know what I’m talking about.
But then again, blasting Raffi on a road trip doesn’t exactly sound like fun — and listening to the Frozen soundtrack even one more time might lead to a parental meltdown of epic proportions at this point. There has to be a happy medium between raunchy sex- and violence-filled lyrics and annoying kids tunes, right?
Thankfully, there are some kid-friendly pop songs that are appropriate but still enjoyable for adults.
1. “What About Us” — Pink
An epic anthem that doesn’t get specific, so it’s emotionally relevant to tons of situations — and totally safe for kids.
2. “Perfect” — Ed Sheeran featuring Beyoncé
The original is great too, of course, but this sweet love song is even better with Beyoncé.
3. “Believer” — Imagine Dragons
Another strong anthem that is bound to get stuck in your — and your kids’ — heads.
Next: “Malibu” — Miley Cyrus
A version of this article was originally published in October 2012.