Kieran Moore – Today I present my top ten songs from my top ten song lists… Or as I’ve been calling it “Sophie’s Choice.” Mind you that’s a pretty bleak reference to start an article on so let’s try this instead (adopts movie trailer voice): “In a world where Lobster Banditos terrorize Scandinavian food preparation technicians… In a world where even the bricks are world class wrestlers and the paperclips seriously disfiguring… comes a battle so epic that even Dead Tom has contacted his insurance provider just in case. Many were called, few were chosen. Now there can be only one winner. 10 number 1 songs, 10 numbers from 1-10. You do the math. Warning: Some sentences contain mild peril and references to amphibians.” Or perhaps not… Put simply, I have now written 10 charts based on Muppeteers so for fun I thought I’d put the number one songs from each chart up against each other to come up with a definitive ranking. I say for fun, it’s actually turned out to be incredibly difficult. But I’ve done it. I don’t know how, but I have! I’ve also added an “Honorable Mention” for each Muppeteer that might have featured in a combined top 10 if I weren’t limiting myself to just those at number 1.
10. The Alphabet Song – Diva performed by Louise Gold
I can’t tell you how awful I feel about putting a singer as amazing as Louise Gold in the number 10 spot. I can see already that this chart is going to be one where I spend most of the time justifying my choices. In the original chart I mentioned how amazing it is that something as simple as The Alphabet Song could make number 1, but here I guess I have to be honest and say its simplicity is part of the reason it’s number 10. I still stand by my assertion though that this is one of the best versions of The Alphabet Song you’ll hear and this is 100% down to how great a performer Louise Gold is. The high notes, the low notes and everything in between are sung to perfection. Honorable Mention: Anyone’s Nose
9. Please Don’t Bump Into Me – The Porcupine performed by Fran Brill
This song has been in a few positions on the chart as I was working out the top 10, but ultimately it’s landed at number 9. Fun yet sultry and sassy yet sweet, this is a grown up performance from Fran and I love it. It’s a smooth seductive vocal that, let’s not forget, features on what is essentially a pre-school video. This really has everything going for it: great vocals, awesome puppetry, fantastic music and a sprinkle of humor. I have to keep reminding myself that this song has been number 1 in the past otherwise I feel especially mean putting it at number 9! Honorable Mention: My Name is Zoe
8. My Own Fairy Tale – Abby Cadabby performed by Leslie Carrara-Rudolph
Completing our trio of Sesame Street women is Leslie Cararra-Rudolph. A couple of weeks ago I was unsure of whether to have My Own Fairy Tale or “Springin” from Animal Jam as my number 1 pick and with the benefit of hindsight I kind of wish I’d picked “Springin” instead as I’ve been humming it for the last fortnight and I genuinely think it’s now one of my favorite Muppet songs, but I’m bound by the rules and My Own Fairy Tale is absolutely worthy of being number 1. I think Abby might be just about the cutest thing out there (baby pandas are second) and I am in love with the way Leslie portrays Abby’s excitement here. If I keep typing about how much I enjoy this song it will catapult up the list so I’d better be strong and move on! Honorable Mention: Springin’
7. Put Down The Duckie – Hoots the Owl performed by Kevin Clash
It’s starting to look like I have something against Sesame Street performers, but I really don’t! I’m just calling them as I see them and I’m having to stay strong and keep this at 7 as I just can’t move any of the next 6 songs any lower! As with Louise Gold I think Kevin is one of the better singers amongst the Muppeteers so his performance here was never going to be anything short of brilliant. Hoots is cool and this song proves it. I just love his growly tone. It’s impossible to be still to this song and that’s one of its greatest charms – it’s a two tapping classic that is very funny. As I said in the Kevin Clash chart, I’m amazed by his range. He can go from deep soul to high and cute and it’s a joy to hear. Honorable Mention: Bunny Go High and Go Low
6. Something So Right – Miss Piggy performed by Eric Jacobson
When I put this song at number 1 on my Eric Jacobson chart last year I promised to send a plague of frogs to Disney if they didn’t manage to get this song at least an Oscar nomination. I’m tracking the shipment as I type…. This for me will always be one of the Muppet songs that got away. This is the first Piggy song I’ve really been able to get behind. There’s an emotional weight to this that I don’t get from “Never Before, Never Again” for example and that’s partly down to the song being a great ballad and partly down to the amazing job Eric does with Piggy. I finally have a Piggy I can empathise with and this song encapsulates just why. She’s vulnerable here and not played for laughs as a “pig in a wig”. I just wish it hadn’t been snubbed this awards season…. Honorable Mention: I Need a Word
5. Mr. Bassman – Scooter performed by Richard Hunt
The only cover song on this list (to the best of my knowledge) is this pick from my Richard Hunt Top 10. Richard is my favorite Muppeteer and Scooter is my favorite Muppet so it’s a shame that this song has only just sneaked into the top 5, but also an indicator of just how good the next 4 songs are. Scooter’s sense of youthful excitement, as well as his desire to be a performer, come to the fore here. In fact, while I have a forum to mention it, I was really surprised in “The Muppets” when Scooter made a comment about how he doesn’t go onstage. Not only has he appeared onstage very regularly, he actually wanted to get on and perform which is why he showed up at the theater in the first place. As I say, Scooter is my favorite Muppet so that change in character was disappointing. Thankfully this was corrected in “Muppets Most Wanted” with his “Moves Like Jagger” performance. Anyway, I have gone off the point. Richard really seems to be enjoying himself here and it shows. There’s a subtlety to his performance that isn’t necessarily obvious on first listen, but every now and again just a word or phrase is performed in such a way that it gives us a little insight into Scooter and how he thinks. I love it! Honorable Mention: The Ballad of Sir Blunderbrain
4. Ragtime Queen – Mokey performed by Kathryn Mullen
So I’ve mentioned a song that got bumped down the list as I put it together and this is the opposite. Originally Ragtime Queen was in the bottom half of the chart, but as I listened to it and started writing I quickly realised that it deserved to be higher. Regular readers will know I love Fraggle Rock and think it might just be the most important TV show ever made (not that there was anything wrong with “A.L.F.” of course) and Mokey is my favorite Fraggle. As a child I considered myself the arty, spiritual one in my group of friends and so Mokey was mine (probably a strange choice for a boy). Kathryn Mullen gives Mokey such soul and heart and this song not only embodies that side of her perfectly, but it also showcases her fun side which is often overlooked. As I said in my original write up of this song this could very easily be a Kate Bush ballad and could definitely have a life away from the show. I think I might be a little bit in love with this song. To call a song perfection when it’s only number 4 in the chart seems odd, but to me it might just be that. Honorable Mention: Sail Away (Moon Lullaby)
3. The Grouch Anthem – Oscar The Grouch performed by Caroll Spinney
Okay, I’m going to admit something potentially embarrassing here. I’m 36 years of age (that’s not the embarrassing part) and I’ve only just worked out what the pile of stuff next to Oscar’s trash can is for as I watch this video again. I thought it was set decoration. Anyway… this is far and away my favorite Oscar song and only the second place song from my original chart, “Easy Goin’ Day”, comes close to it as my favorite Caroll song. I think I’ve probably said that every song on this chart is “fun”, but what other word is there to describe a song like this? Maybe hilarious, as that’s what it is. Perhaps “fun” isn’t a strong enough word? The lyrics are just about perfect and the music is right there with it. Caroll is outstanding as Oscar here as he is all the way through “Follow That Bird” whichever character he’s playing. This song is so quotable – I regularly say “Brace yourself, I’m gonna sing!” (as an aside I once got to say “They don’t look like Presbyterians to me” in a real life conversation and it might just have been the happiest day of my life!) When I wrote about this song last time I mentioned the great memories I have of listening to it as a kid and for that it will always have a special place in my heart. Honorable Mention: Easy Goin’ Day
2. Rainbow Connection – Kermit the Frog performed by Jim Henson
If they gave out prizes for feeling like a horrible person I’d have just won gold. I’m inwardly cringing as I have to justify why such an amazing, dare I say it breath taking song is at number 2. There was a gnat’s whisker between 1st and 2nd place so please don’t hate me. This song is incredibly special to me, not only is it beautiful and a classic and has such heart and tenderness and a glorious message, but it’s also the first solo song I ever took on as an adult singer. Muppet music has been a huge influence on me not just as a person, but as a singer as well and because of this I had an hour long debate just last week about whether or not my a Capella trio should put “Ladybug Picnic” on our album (someone thought it was too “lightweight”, but “Dixie Wailin” is looking like a yes so that’s exciting!) There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Rainbow Connection and a team of leading linguists are currently holed up in Wisconsin inventing words that convey just how good this song is. In my last write up I said the Rainbow Connection IS magic and I firmly believe that, but it’s the magic of friendship and family, the magic of the world around you and the magic of a frog who sings and dances. What more do we need? Honorable Mention: Let Me Be Your Song (this song should be on every top 10 ever)
1. I’m Going To Go Back There Someday – Gonzo performed by Dave Goelz
So here we are at the number 1 slot and it’s a 1, 2, for “The Muppet Movie” which I’m very happy about. In fact it’s a 1, 2, 3, for songs from movies and that’s pretty cool. As I said above it was so close between this song and “Rainbow Connection”. I’d love to be able to say that I picked this as number 1 to be controversial, but it wouldn’t be true. All of the top 3 songs hold memories for me and this one just edged it on that basis. I said in my Dave Goelz chart that Gonzo reminds me of my sister who passed away a few years ago and that I spoke about her in those terms at her funeral. What I didn’t mention was that when she was alive my sister had a playlist called “Sleepy Songs” that was made up of songs that helped her get to sleep and along with a couple of other Muppet tracks I’m Going to Go Back There Someday was on the list. I burnt a copy of the playlist onto a CD and put it in her coffin with her so I know that wherever she happens to be she can hear this song and for that reason this song is my number 1. Of course that being said, this song doesn’t need any extra reasons to be number 1. It’s beautiful. Intimate and soaring, lyrically astounding. It’s the Sistine Chapel of Muppet Songs. As someone who admits he was a reluctant performer to start with Dave Goelz shows here just why he was always destined to be one. Gonzo is a true one-off in every sense of the word. Outrageously zany, yet so incredibly soulful he is truly one of the best characters ever created in any medium. This song’s like a snowflake, beautiful, delicate, and intricate. What more is there to say? Honorable Mention: The Friendship Song
So there we have it. I’m sure your mileage may vary as the saying goes and I’d love to know how other fans would rank these particular songs.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank the 10 Muppeteers who appear in this chart for making this task so difficult. Your performances are the stuff of legend and every single one has made memories for me. Some made me laugh, some made me cry and some made me put down my duckie, but thanks to your amazing work (as well as that of the songwriters and everyone else involved) all are amongst my very best Muppet Moments. Thank you.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org