Important Musical Artists and Songs (The ‘School in a Book’ Series)

So, so much music. So much great, important music. How do you choose what to expose your kids to first? How do you even remember all the songs you once loved? Here, a checklist to fill in the gaps in your current music collection. At my homeschooling house, I have an “Important Songs to Know” folder with most of the individual songs on this list, the ones I don’t have (or want to have) the full album for. We also listen to a lot of kids’ music, language-learning music and podcasts.

Important Musical Artists


Simon and Garfunkel (esp. Sound of Silence, Scarborough Fair)
Billie Holiday (esp. Blue Moon, God Bless the Child)
The Beatles (Hey, Jude; Let It Be; Yesterday; Yellow Submarine)
Celine Dion (esp. The Power of Love, My Heart Will Go On)
Mariah Carey
Miles Davis
Louis Armstrong (esp. What a Wonderful World, Cheek to Cheek)
Frank Sinatra (esp. My Way, Fly Me to the Moon, New York, New York, That’s Life, I’ve Got the World on a String)
Bing Crosby
Kanye West (esp. Gold Digger, All of the Lights)
Michael Jackson
Eminem (esp. Slim Shady)
Ray Charles (esp. Georgia on My Mind, Night & Day, Hit the Road, Jack)
Ella Fitzgerald
Joni Mitchell (esp. Big Yellow Taxi)
Peter, Paul and Mary (esp. Puff the Magic Dragon)
Norah Jones (esp. Don’t Know Why, Come Away With Me)
Chuck Berry (esp. Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven)
John Mayer (esp. Your Body Is a Wonderland)
John Legend (esp. Glory, All of Me, Ordinary People)
Bob Dylan (esp. Like a Rolling Stone, Blowing in the Wind, Knockin on Heaven’s Door)
Elton John (esp. Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Circle of Life, I’m Still Standing, Tiny Dancer)
U2 (esp. With or Without You)
Beyonce (esp. If I Were a Boy, Crazy in Love)
John Denver (esp. Take Me Home, Country Roads)
Elvis Presley (esp. Can’t Help Falling in Love, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, Don’t Be Cruel)
Madonna (esp. Vogue, Like a Virgin, Material Girl)
Johnny Cash (esp. Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line)
Billy Joel (esp. Piano Man, New York State of Mind, We Didn’t Start the Fire)
Bob Marley (esp. Could You Be Loved, I Shot the Sheriff)
Stevie Wonder (esp. I Just Called to Say I Love You, Could You Be Loved)
Bette Midler (esp. From a Distance, I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today, The Rose, Wind Beneath My Wings)
Aretha Franklin (esp. Respect, [You Make Me Feel Like a] Natural Woman)
Barbra Streisand (esp. The Way We Were)
Johnny Cash (esp. I Walk the Line)
Eric Clapton (esp. Tears in Heaven, Wonderful Tonight)
Don’t Lie to Me, Barbra Streisand (esp. You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, The Way We Were)
The Rolling Stones (esp. [I Cant Get No] Satisfaction, Paint It Black)

Important Songs

I Try, Macy Gray
Give Me One Reason, Tracy Chapman
Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, Alan Jackson
Imagine, John Lennon
Happy Christmas (War Is Over), John Lennon
Proud Mary, Tina Turner
What’s Love Got to Do With It, Tina Turner
I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston
I Hope You Dance, Lee Ann Womack
Jennifer Hudson
She’s Everything, Brad Paisley
Kiss, Prince
Basket Case, Green Day
American Pie, Don Mclean
Cat’s In the Cradle, Cat Stevens
Wild World, Cat Stevens
When I Come Around, Green Day
Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O’Connor
Zombie, The Cranberries
Losing My Religion, R.E.M.
Wake Me Up When September Ends, Green Day
Paint Me A Birmingham, Tracy Lawrence
So Sick, Neyo
Baby Got Back, Sir Mix A Lot
Hips Don’t Lie, Shakira
Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
Jump Around, House of Pain
Hips Don’t Lie, Shakira
Walk this Way, Aerosmith and Run DMC
Don’t Take the Girl, Tim McGraw
Fooled Around and Fell in Love, Elvin Bishop
Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
Find Your Love, Drake
Renegade, Styx
Smells like Teen Spirit, Nirvana
Little Lion Man, Mumford & Sons
Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Tears for Fears
Augustana, Boston
How’s It Going to Be, Third Eye Blind
Chicken Fried, Zac Brown Band
Wanted, Dead or Alive, Bon Jovi
To Save a Life, The Fray
Wonderwall, Oasis
Surfin’ USA, The Beach Boys
I Get Around, The Beach Boys
Message in a Bottle, The Police
Yellow, Coldplay
Forever, Drake
The House of Rising Sun, The Animals
Ride, Twenty One Pilots
Closing Time, Semisonic
Apologize, OneRepublic
Same Love, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with Mary Lambert
This Love, Maroon 5
Closer, Chain Smokers
Love In This Club, Usher
Meant to Live, Switchfoot
Dynamite, Taio Cruz
Africa, Toto
I Ran, Flock of Seagulls
Lovefool, The Cardigans
Say My Name, Destiny’s Child
I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas
Staying Alive, Bee Gees
Fight For Your Right (to Party), Beastie Boys
My Girl, The Temptations
Long Cool Woman, The Hollies
Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas
Clocks, Coldplay
Free Fallin’, Tom Petty
If You Could Only See, Tonic
Tik Tok, Ke$ha
The Message, Grandmaster Flash
Dixieland Delight, Alabama
Don’t Stop Believing, Journey
Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond
Your Love, The Outfield
Everything I Do (I Do It For You), Bryan Adams
Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin
Thunderstruck, AC/DC
The Middle, Jimmy Eat World
Breakeven, The Script
One Dance, Drake
Yeah!, Usher with Lil Jon and Ludacris
Ms. Jackson, Outkast
Bust a Move, Young MC
Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog
UpTown Funk, Bruno Mars
Somebody that I use to Know, Gotye
Another One Bites the Dust, Queen
I Will Always Love You, Whitney Houston
YMCA, Village People
Let Me Love You, Mario
I Heard it Through the Grapevine,  Marvin Gaye
The Gambler, Kenny Rogers
Purple Rain, Prince
Kiss, Prince
In the Air Tonight, Phil Collins
She’s Got the Look, Roxette
I Feel Good, James Brown
Forever Young, Jay-Z
In the Mood, Robert Plant
Fame, David Bowie
Let’s Dance, David Bowie
Live and Let Die, Paul McCartney
Band on the Run, Paul McCartney
Said I Loved You … But I Lied, Michael Bolton
Johnny B. Goode, Chuck Berry
Old Man, Neil Young
Heart of Gold, Neil Young
Angel, Shaggy
It Wasn’t Me, Shaggy
Don’t Worry Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin
Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Cyndi Lauper
True Colors, Cyndi Lauper
She Drives Me Crazy, Fine Young Cannibals
Escapade, Janet Jackson
Tom’s Diner, Susanne Vega
Dancing in the Streets, Martha & the Vandellas

Tomorrow (from Annie)
Maybe (from Annie)
Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland (from The Wizard of Oz)
When You Wish Upon a Star (from Pinocchio)
Footloose (from Footloose)
(from My Fair Lady)
Sunrise, Sunset (from Fiddler on the Roof)
Tradition (from Fiddler on the Roof)
Oklahoma! (from Oklahoma!)
Oh What a Beautiful Morning) (from Oklahoma!)
(from West Side Story)
Da-Doo (from Little Shop of Horrors)
Skid Row (from Little Shop of Horrors)
Suddenly, Seymour (from Little Shop of Horrors)
Beauty and the Beast (from Beauty and the Beast)
This Provincial Life (from Beauty and the Beast)
Kiss the Girl (from The Little Mermaid)
I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair (from South Pacific)
Bali Ha’i (from South Pacific)
White Christmas (from White Christmas)
Sisters (from White Christmas)
Songs from Hair
Songs from The King and I
Songs from Grease
Peter and the Wolf theme music (by Sergei Prokofiev)
A Charlie Brown Christmas theme music
Star Wars theme music
Westworld theme music
The Staircase theme music
The Keepers theme music
Medium theme music
Felicity theme music

Important Folk Songs and Singalong Songs

The Star-Spangled Banner
America, the Beautiful
Oh, Susanna
Banana Boat Song (Day-O)
Home on the Range
You Are My Sunshine
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
Ain’t We Got Fun?
Down By the Old Mill Stream
Someone’s In the Kitchen With Dinah
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad
You’ll Sing a Song
Down By the Riverside
Lavender’s Blue
When the Saints Go Marching In
Amazing Grace
How Great Thou Art
I’ll Fly Away
He’s Got the Whole World
Swing Low Sweet Chariot
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
This Little Light of Mine
O Holy Night
Jingle Bells
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christms
The First Noel
We Wish You a Merry Christmas
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Oh Come All Ye Faithful
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
We Three Kings
Away in a Manger
Silent Night
What Child Is This?
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Joy to the World
Angels We Have Heard on High
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Jingle Bells
Frosty, the Snowman
Let It Snow
Holly, Jolly Christmas
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas
Deck the Halls
We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Important Children’s Songs and Artists

Mr. Rogers

The Alphabet Song
Rock-a-Bye Baby
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Ba Ba Black Sheep
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Star Light, Star Bright
Hush, Little Baby (Don’t Say a Word)
Knees Up Mother Brown
Down By the Bay
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Frere Jacques
Lollipop, Lollipop
If You’re Happy and You Know It
Skip to My Lou
The More We Get Together
This Old Man
Wheels on the Bus
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
The Ants Go Marching One By One
Are You Sleeping, Brother John?
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Humpty Dumpty
Five Little Monkeys
Ring Around the Roses
Old McDonald
Three Blind Mice
Nick Nack Paddywack
Pop Goes the Weasel
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
Hey Diddle Diddle
Jack and Jill
London Bridge Is Falling Down
She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain
This Little Piggy
Little Bo Peep
Sing a Song of Sixpence
A Tisket a Tasket
Little Boy Blue
Old King Cole
Little Miss Muffet
The Muffin Man
Over the River and Through the Woods
The Farmer In the Dell
Baby Bumble Bee
Do Your Ears Hang Low?
Where, Oh, Where Has My Little Dog Gone?
How Much Is That Doggy In the Window
There’s a Hole in the Bucket
John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt


After Rachel and Matthew had their first child, they had a couple of fights. Well, okay, more than a couple—they fought for over three years. They fought about schedules. They fought about bad habits. They even fought about the lawn mower. And besides actually having their child, it was the best thing that could've happened. Get Fights You’ll Have After Having a Baby: A Self-Help Story on Amazon now.