Kieran Moore – Cor Blimey! Love a duck! This week we’re going to countdown the top 10 songs of my old mucker Louise Gold, The Muppet Show’s only British performer. As a Brit myself I love the fact that The Muppet Show is a UK production and enjoy passing this nugget of information over to people who don’t know it. Louise joined the show during its second season (or series here in the UK) and stuck around until the end making her the longest running female performer on the show. She hasn’t just appeared on The Muppet Show though; she’s appeared in other Henson shows, specials and movies and is currently starring in The Furchester Hotel, a Sesame Street spin-off made in the UK. She has also performed in musical theater, so this girl can sing as we’re about to find out.
10. You and Me – Beakie and Alice Cooper
I’m breaking my own rule here by featuring a song where Louise doesn’t sing the majority of the lyrics, but this is a special case. Not only is this a great song, brilliantly staged, but Louise shows how great a singer she is in just a few lines. Her harmonies are beautiful and add tenderness to this already beautiful moment. That this soft and melodic song appears in an Alice Cooper episode makes it even more impressive.
9. Rhyming Song – Annie Sue, Fozzie, Scooter & Link
This is another song that breaks my rule, but what are rules for if not to be broken? Could this song be any different from the last? I’ve always thought this piece was hilarious and shows not just the madcap humor of the show, but it also reinforces the fact that without Kermit papering over the cracks things can fall apart even more than usual. Annie Sue is underused in my humble opinion so it’s nice to see her here when her lyrics could really have been sung by anyone. Louise sounds great. I still haven’t quite worked out why The Muppet Show didn’t use Louise’s fantastic vocals in more featured spots?
8. Borneo – Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers
I hold The Muppet Show directly responsible for my love of American folk music. The show had two jugbands and I love them both. This fun song once again gives Louise a chance to show off her fantastic harmonies. Its upbeat violin sets the heart soaring and the jaw-harp and jug get the toes a-tapping as well. Louise commented on her partnership with Jerry Nelson “I guess people think we sound good together!” I can only agree with this sentiment. For a singer so at home on the stage Louise has a great folk voice which she shows off here.
7. Don’t Check Out – Funella, Fergus, Elmo, Phoebe, Cookie Monster, Isabell
Here in the UK we’ve been lucky enough to have The Furchester Hotel (a co-production between Sesame Workshop and the BBC) running for the last few months. Although squarely aimed at youngsters I have to admit I’m really enjoying the show (much more than I did the Doozers one). Louise does a great job as Funella Furchester (she’s Elmo’s aunt by the way) and this song that runs at the end of each show lets her show off her lower range. To think this is the same Muppeteer that performs Annie Sue is incredible. I’ve often wondered if children get traumatized by the characters pleading with them not to leave, but I guess the makers know what they’re doing!
6. I Can Sing – Louisey & Herry Monster
Where The Muppet Show doesn’t seem to have given Louise the musical spotlight she deserves Sesame Street seem to be the exact opposite. If they need a female character with musical chops Louise seems to be the go-to-girl. In fact, this duet between Louisey and Herry Monster is based almost entirely on exactly what Louise can sing. She gets to show her full range, her ability to belt out a tune and to sing a wide range of vocal styles. This really is a virtuoso performance. Herry Monster makes a great partner in this song – he’s so lovable! This is another great Gold/Nelson pairing.
5. Henrietta’s Wedding – Lou and Slim Wilson
This song is hilarious! It’s like a “Yo Momma” joke in song form. Poor old Henrietta, it seems she’s destined for a life on the shelf! Once again, Louise and Jerry are duetting on another superb song. It seems Louise was right – they do sound great together. Louise and Jerry both sound their folky best and their harmonies are sublime. It’s a real shame that the pairing of Lou and Slim didn’t get more chances to sing like this, I’m starting to feel a little cheated now!
4. I Get a Kick Out of U – Ethel Mermaid
Once again Sesame Street proves that they know just how to play to Louise’s strengths with this great Ethel Merman parody song. She really gets to show off her best here and her vocals are spot on. You could be fooled into thinking this was the real Ethel Merman in my opinion. Louise played the character Reno Sweeney who sings the original version of this song in the musical Anything Goes in London. Add to that the fact that Ethel Mermaid is made to look just like her and aside from the trademark Sesame Street humor of singing about a letter this is a fun in-joke as well.
3. Pecos Bill – Annie Sue & Wally Boag
My Muppet fandom is only rivalled by my love for Disney and the parks in particular so I’m especially pleased to be able to present this song by Annie Sue and Disneyland veteran Wally Boag. It’s also nice to hear the full version of the song since Disney likes to edit it now! The choice of Annie Sue to sing this song makes it a bit of an oddity to me – as I said earlier, Annie Sue doesn’t get many opportunities to shine so when she finally gets a larger role in a song it makes you wonder if Piggy wasn’t available for some reason. Why push Annie Sue forward now? Either way, this is a great fun performance. Annie Sue’s reactions as Wally spits out his teeth are priceless!
2. Anyone’s Nose – Anyone’s Nose Singer
Our second Anything Goes parody song in this chart is part of the Monsterpiece Theater series. Anything Goes itself is a classic song and as expected Louise sings this brilliantly. Her performance is full of gusto and she really throws everything into it. This really is expertly sung. Lightning fast lyrics are fired with precision and this is a real diva moment. It also includes the ever-popular Muppet tap dancing joke that never gets old!
1. Alphabet Song – Diva
Ok, so this really is a Diva moment! Who’d have thought that something as simple as the Alphabet Song would ever be number 1? This song has so much going for it though. It features great vocals from Louise and again I have to comment on her fantastic range – she expertly hits the high notes, but is equally adept down in her lower register. It also has some great puppeteering from all concerned, but above all it’s funny. And not just kinda, maybe sorta funny. It’s really genuinely funny. It’s a great premise that wouldn’t be out of place in a comedy movie. As I say, it is a simple song, but its sum total is most definitely greater than its parts.
I wish I could sing like Louise Gold (or the male equivalent). If this chart has shown me one thing it’s that Louise is a great, versatile performer who in my opinion is sadly underused. That said I’m glad she flies the flag for British performers and hope she continues to do so for many years to come. Thank you Louise for representing us Brits in the Muppet universe, and thank you personally from me for all the times you’ve kept me entertained. As we Brits say “Ta very much!”
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org