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One dad, two boys, one CD slot: What do you pop in?

Vitaminstringquartet.com

If I have to listen to that happy train song one more time, I'm going to step in front of the choo-choo. That was me five years ago, with Jackson's fave CD spinning in the nursery boombox. 

Kids music can be a little injured cockatoo duct-taped to a police siren on big ears. And adult music can be a little #@$ !*&% $!#$ *!&% on little ears. Can't we meet in the middle? I mean, where's the Toy Story of kid's music? It has to exist. I did some digging, and (gasp!) found some tunes that work for ears of all sizes.

When you're stuffing your kids' stockings this year, consider these Pop Culture-approved albums. Some are adult albums with PG appeal; others are kid-friendly with a side of snark and sarcasm. 

VSQ Performs Lady Gaga by Vitamin String Quartet. The meat sweater diva gets the chamber music treatment in this collection of covers, performed entirely by violins, viola and cello. The best part: you get to enjoy “Poker Face” without your preschooler hearing about anyone bluffin’ with their muffin. VSQ has also covered Coldplay, Oasis and Metallica.

Practically Ridiculous by The Jimmies. Ashley Albert, whose Twitter bio reads “semi-professional snacker and not-so-diabolical mastermind behind the burgeoning kids rock band The Jimmies,” delivers silly songs (“Gonna Get A Hamster,” “Minivan Hot Rod”) with pop-punk mojo. Waaaay more Blink 182 than Blue’s Clues, this album will even get the nose-ringed nanny’s head bopping.

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Owl City. The Splenda-sweet electro-pop of Owl City peaked with the 2009 megahit “Fireflies.” Consider this batch of ear candy the sequel. The quirky sound (imagine R2-D2 playing a Casio synthesizer) and PG lyrics are perfect for little ears, but doesn’t sound out of place on pop radio.

Lemonade Mouth: The Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack. You haven’t heard of Lemonade Mouth? How are the accommodations under your rock? This pop-rap-rock soundtrack will garner a tween thumbs up, and satisfy your Top 40 sweet tooth. When Olivia howls “gotta turn the world into your dance floor” on “Determinate,” it could just as easily be Katy Petty.

Original Friend by Lunch Money. Funny, subversive, and wonderfully weird, Original Friend is a concept album: after Baby Bear (of Goldilocks fame) comes out of hibernation, he and Goldilocks get together for some long-awaited hijinx. Best track: "Come Over to My Dollhouse," where G.I. Joe action figures and Barbie dolls join forces for a gender-inclusive [miniature plastic] house party. Sample lyric: "Fightin' crime is mighty fine but haven't you had your fill?/Everyone just came here to chill/And Skeletor's working the grill."

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