Kieran Moore – “Mr. Moore, 15 Seconds to Top 10 Mr. Moore.” In a perfect world that’s how my rundowns would start every week, but sadly Scooter doesn’t seem to have been able to find my living room yet. I have, however, managed to find several Scooter songs along with a whole host of Richard Hunt’s other musical moments for my Top 10 Songs of Richard Hunt chart.
This is a big deal for me. I love Richard Hunt and he is my absolute favorite Muppeteer. Growing up I wore glasses from an early age so I instantly identified with Scooter when I watched The Muppet Show. From there, my love of Richard and his characters grew. He had a special quality, something I think only a handful of Muppet performers have (Jim Henson and Jerry Nelson spring to mind) where, although his characters were quite different, they were all unmistakably his. He had a fantastic singing voice and yet, sadly, his signature characters don’t seem to get too many solo numbers. That said, I didn’t find putting this chart together easy in any way. Finally, a big thank you to my niece Elenya who helped me research this article.
As before, duets and group songs are allowed as long as the performer provides at least 50% of the singing.
Honorable Mention: Wayne & Wanda
They didn’t make the Top 10 (mostly because their performances are so brief), but Wayne and Wanda deserve a mention here. Let’s be honest Wayne was definitely carrying Wanda in this partnership. He had a great voice; sadly he rarely got the chance to fin-
10. Guest Star Song – Scooter
What better way to start a Top 10 rundown than with a song that is ultimately a rundown itself. This Muppet reworking of “Modern Major General” is great fun. Whoever wrote the words to this is a genius! At first listen it seems like a fairly simple list, but with clever ways of mentioning guests such as Mummenschanz and the superb line “last, not least, is Zero” this is lyrically very clever. I give a whole heap of respect to Richard for getting this right. I wonder how many takes it took?
9. Rockin’ Robin – Janice and the Electric Mayhem
For some reason Janice didn’t get to sing lead very often even though this song proves she has the chops to do so. This is a great arrangement of a classic, I love how every member of the Mayhem gets a little moment – there’s a fab bass line and some awesome trumpeting from Lips. Janice gets her trademark “rully” in there too. If I confess that this song wasn’t even in the first draft of this chart you’ll see that there are some superb performances coming up.
8. Two Lost Souls – Sweetums & Robin
Gonzo’s loss (due to a long arm) is our gain! This song is an absolute classic. The pairing of Sweetums and Robin is inspired, but it played on the strong partnership of Richard and Jerry Nelson. From Janice and Floyd in The Muppet Show to Two-Headed Monster in Sesame Street, Richard and Jerry had a special chemistry similar to that of Jim and Frank Oz. This song is comedy genius and is staged so simply and yet so brilliantly. Sweetums is a great character and a family favourite. He’s the perfect example of why you don’t judge a book by its cover – something The Muppets know only too well.
7. Big Boy Now – Junior Gorg
I’ll admit that as a child watching Fraggle Rock I found Junior Gorg a bit annoying and really just wanted to get back to the Fraggles during the Gorg bits in general, but this is a fun song performed with gusto. Also, I’ve mellowed towards the Gorgs now that I’m old enough to appreciate them properly. Richard perfectly captured the rambunctious nature of an excitable child with Junior Gorg – he was infuriating, but lovable and even when at his scariest was always coming from a well-meaning place.
6. Six String Orchestra – Scooter & the Electric Mayhem
Our second Scooter song feels like it could be his anthem to a certain extent. Although he was an assured performer from the start (unlike the character in this song) Scooter obviously dreamed of a life on the stage and used his connections (did you know his uncle owned the theatre? I think he mentioned it once or twice) to get himself there. The way this song builds gives it a really atmospheric feel. The ghostly band members that appear in his bedroom are especially evocative. Richard’s ability to play an enthusiastic youth comes to the fore here and I love it!
5. Feelings – Beaker
When I mentioned this chart to my niece who is also a Muppets fan she instantly came up with this song. Funnily enough we both remember it most fondly from its appearance on the old VHS video “Muppet Moments” even though we are generations apart! As a tenor singer I’m always amazed by the way Richard and Frank can hit those high notes so well. I’d have loved to have been in the writers’ office the day someone came up with the idea of giving Beaker a solo number. The idea was expanded upon when The Leprechaun Bothers came into being, but this was the first kernel of that idea. I also think the way Animal protects Beaker from the crowd is really sweet so that makes this just about perfect to me.
4. Sleigh Ride – The Snowman and Fozzie
It’s a Christmas tradition in my house that one night in December I throw everyone out and watch Muppet Family Christmas while I wrap my presents. Last year I introduced this awesome special to my niece and nephew when we watched it as a double bill with Emmet Otter. As a Richard Hunt character I always thought the Snowman was a great addition to the gang and it’s a shame we didn’t see more of him barring a couple of cameos. I didn’t want to include “Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear” in the chart as it’s already Scooter heavy so this duet fills the Frank/Richard spot and lets me include a song from my favourite Muppet special.
3. The Ballad of Sir Blunderbrain – Storyteller Fraggle
I can’t tell you how much I love this song. As I’ve mentioned before Fraggle Rock is in my opinion about as perfect as a TV show can be. The music of Fraggle Rock has been a huge influence on me and I universally love it all. I remember this song from watching the show when I was younger and this story was genuinely chilling as Fraggles were whisked away never to return. I’m in danger of running out of superlatives as I proclaim this song as probably the scariest, most dramatic piece of music in the whole of the show’s run. It’s a pitch perfect performance from Richard and one my favorite moments of his on any show.
2. With a Little Help from My Friends – Janice
Although technically a Janice solo song in my mind I always considered this an Electric Mayhem number that just happened to be staged differently to their usual style. It felt like an onstage music video. The slow-burn start to this number is really effective; it’s almost a shock when the lead vocal kicks in. Janice has a “rully” sweet tone to her voice in this number and the only thing that would improve it would be if the song was longer. Why did Janice not get more lead vocals? It’s real tragedy that she only got a couple of solos throughout the 5 Muppet Show Seasons. The way that Janice instantly starts joining in with the music despite being part of a ritual sacrifice showcases her laidback valley girl style and this is another virtuoso performance from Richard.
1. Mr. Bassman – Scooter and Floyd with the Electric Mayhem
In my own personal chart it was always going to be a Scooter song at number 1, but really any of the top 3 would have deserved it, there are that close. Interestingly, this song also plays on Scooter’s desire to be a better performer as he begs Floyd to teach him how to sing bass. This is another great pairing of Richard and Jerry, with Jerry performing more in his own voice than Floyd’s. This is a real singer’s song and shows just how sophisticated Richard was as a musical performer. Some of his timings and inflections are spot on and it really takes this song to another level.
I wish Richard was around to read this chart, not just because I’d love it if he knew how much I admire him and his characters, but also because it would mean we’d have been treated to another 20+ years of fantastic performances, superb musical moments, and that indefinable quality that made all of his characters that little bit more special. Thanks Richard.