One truth about parenting is that your kids are always cooler than you. Recently this fact was reinforced when my daughter began dancing like a fiend to the 2021 Jon Batiste album, WE ARE. The album has just won the 2022 Grammy for Album of the Year, and if I can use my almost-five-year-old as an example of all children who love to dance, let me tell you, WE ARE should be the next album you throw on for a family dance party.
I’m not going to make some kind of argument that Jon Batiste is somehow kid-friendly, or that there’s any similarity between his music and say actual children’s music. That said if you let children listen to regular music, you may find kids have pretty good taste. The proof can be found here: Raffi is the most successful children’s musician of all time because he’s actually a good musician and his musical pedigree, not to mention the people he’s worked with, back that up. The point is that kids have good taste, especially if you don’t try to make them listen to anything. Good music is just good music. And kids know that.
This is why you should put on WE ARE with your kids and see what happens. With my kid, it wasn’t so much that she started dancing right away, it’s that once she started moving to the album, she didn’t really stop vibing with it.
WE ARE has a long-party brilliance that creeps up on you, and I think it’s perfectly attuned to the playful energy of kids in a very singular way. There are a few stand-out hits on the album like “FREEDOM,” but what makes the album so great to blast in your house is that it’s not reliant on just one or two poppy singles. It’s an album and it feels like an album. You can just kind of have it on and start to feel better. Even the slower jam “ADULTHOOD” has a dreaminess to it that is undeniably life-affirming and fresh. The lyrics are just specific enough for kids to latch onto the words, and just general enough for them to not worry about too much. Plus, if you can’t dance to “I NEED YOU,” I’m not sure if you’re listening to the music loud enough.
But really, you’re unsure why WE ARE is so perfect for a family dance party, just listen to that title track. The Gospel Soul Children’s Choir is credited as part of this one, and you can see why. Kids singing “we are the golden ones” and “we are the chosen ones” is empowering as hell. Best of all, the song tells kids “we are never alone.” Amen.
Bonus parenting points, get the album on vinyl.