Our Favorite Songs From 2016

justin timberlake

How was school today? Did you have a good time at recess? What did you do in class? As parents, we’ve repeated these questions countless times, and we’re all too familiar with the one-word answers that often follow: “Fine.” “Yeah.” “Nothing.”

Sometimes, getting your kids to talk about their day feels like pulling teeth out of a grizzly bear’s mouth.

Here’s a tip for all the parents out there seeking to form connections that are more than just “fine” — listening to music is an easy way to bond with your kids without having to say a thing. Whether you sing along together, play instruments together (air guitar counts), or just sit quietly and enjoy the melodies together; music naturally creates feelings of connection between people and builds positive memories.

Before you blast the radio, though, it pays to do a little research. Some of today’s most popular tunes aren’t exactly kid-friendly. Even some of your favorites from growing up may not contain messages you want your kids to sing along with. We’ve done some background research for you into today’s catchiest pop songs that are appropriate for little ears.

Here are our 5 favorite songs released in 2016 to add to your family playlist. Take a listen:

Can’t Stop the Feeling! – Justin Timberlake

For a song that can kick off any living room dance party, this infectious tune from JT is a favorite for parents and kids. Tuning in with upbeat music is a great way to encourage kids to get physically active, even if it’s just jumping and twirling in the backyard — not all exercise has to be boring sets of push-ups. This particular music video features the ever-limber Timberlake letting loose with friends to the upbeat dance tune. The best part? No uncomfortable explanations of lyrics. Just pure, good fun with this one.

Learn this line: “Got that sunshine in my pocket, Got that good soul in my feet, I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops, ooh, I can’t take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally, Room on lock the way we rock it, so don’t stop.”

Rise – Katy Perry

If your family watched the Summer Olympics in Rio, you probably heard this ballad by songstress Katy Perry a few times. The song fits perfectly with Olympic themes like determination, victory, and even defeat. Play it during your family’s spring cleaning spree, on the way to your child’s next soccer game, or when your child is gearing up for the next big exam. No matter what challenge you’re about to face, or what task you’re getting ready to tackle, Katy Perry’s stellar vocals will boost your motivation and confidence.

Learn this line: “I won’t just conform, No matter how you shake my core, ‘Cause my roots—they run deep.”

Just Like Fire – P!NK

From the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, this empowering tune will get you moving in the morning, or pumped up for a night at the football field. The lyrics speak about authenticity, and the difficulties of feeling like you’re different from everyone else. It’s a good song to open up conversations about self-esteem and individuality – or just crank it up, and enjoy belting out the lyrics with your kids.

Learn this line: “Just like fire, burning out the way, If I can light the world up for just one day, Watch this madness, colorful charade, No one can be just like me anyway.”

Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots

The homeschooled duo of Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun have burst onto the popular music scene this year with hit song Stressed Out, and follow up Ride. Both are fabulously catchy tunes, though the former has a little more substance, landing it on our list of favorites. No matter whether you’re concerned about next month’s bills, anxious over submitting college applications, or struggling to learn your multiplication tables, people young and old can relate to these lyrics — which describe the overwhelming weight of responsibilities and a nostalgia for golden days of childhood. When your family starts to feel “stressed out” from school, extracurricular activities, work, and home responsibilities, turn this one up and sing along.

Learn this line: “We used to play pretend, give each other different names, We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away, Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face, Saying ‘Wake up, you need to make money.’”

Try Everything – Shakira

Written for the movie Zootopia, this song highlights the courage needed to try new things – even if it means failing sometimes. As stakes rise for kids in the classroom (and outside of it, too), it’s important to share the message that perfection isn’t everything. We can all associate with the fear of failure, and this song emphasizes that this fear shouldn’t hold us back from stretching our boundaries and having new experiences. The positive impact of the lyrics for kids is undeniable, and the catchy music is a winner for parents.

Learn this line: “I won’t give up, no I won’t give in, ‘Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again, No I won’t leave, I wanna try everything, I wanna try even though I could fail.”

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Music

Whether you’re en route to extracurricular activities, or piping in some music while you clean the house, these top songs from 2016 are a sure-fire hit with families. Listening to music with your kids can liven up the mood, create connections over a shared interest, and even open the door for larger conversations about life. A tradition of singing along on every family road trip, or cruising to a shared playlist on the way to school may turn out to be something you and your child continue well into the teen years, and even adulthood.