Kieran Moore – Regular readers will remember that last time I reached 10 charts on The Muppet Mindset; I then placed myself under extreme pressure and ranked the number one song from each chart in a giant recap of the whole thing. Well, having now reached chart number 20 (excluding last week’s Kermit’s Birthday chart) I find myself facing another totally impossible decision. This might well be the toughest chart to rank so far; one song in particular has been everything from 8th place to third and I’m still not 100% sure where it will eventually end up. As with the last recap, every song on this chart has been number one previously and in my opinion is a Muppet classic. They are the perfect combination of performer, character and song. It kills me to have to put any of these songs at number 10, but a Muppet fan’s gotta do what a Muppet fan’s gotta do.
Who doesn’t love Bill Barretta? That’s right! No-one! Bill is a great performer, writer, director and producer and it’s heartening to know he’s working behind the camera on the new Muppets TV show as well as in front of it. I guess Bill’s best known original character is Pepe, but I have a real soft spot for Johnny Fiama – I do miss him. As I wrote the last time I featured this song, this scene has a real resonance for me on a personal level, but then I think pretty much every song on this chart does! That’s what makes a good Muppet song a great one – the ability to touch the listener in some way and transport them to a different place. Whether sentimental or played for laughs, each one is a special moment. That’s why it’s hard to rank them – how do you rank emotions and memories? Brilliantly pitched and perfectly sung, this is a standout moment from “Muppets Tonight” for me. Honorable Mention: Can You Picture That?
I love a Muppet parody, whether it’s a “Dogfather” poster, Sesame Street doing “Game of Chairs” or an online video like this, they are always comedy gold. This video is funny, really funny! I think David does a great job as Cookie Monster, but I really appreciate him because he’s given Scooter a voice, and that makes this gofer fan very happy indeed. Long may it continue! In a similar vein to Frank Oz, who was Cookie Monster’s previous performer, I’m really impressed by David’s vocal range; to be able to perform characters as diverse as Cookie, Bobby Benson and Baby Bear is no mean feat. I’ve always secretly loved “Call Me Maybe”. I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, though some may term it as that, however I do believe in great pop songs, and Cookie’s take on it is just the icing on the, er, cookie? Honorable Mention: Moves Like Jagger
No one is more shocked than me to find this song at number eight. I suspect Miss Piggy would have something to say about it too! I’m going to try and justify it by saying that as I mentioned before, this list is all about me and how these songs have impacted on my life on that criteria I have to stand by this rating. That said, I think this is absolute genius and one of my favorite Miss Piggy moments ever. It totally encapsulates one of her definitive character traits and that’s her ability as an “entertainer”. Piggy is a star and a great performer and I love that despite her character flaws she is allowed to shine onstage where it counts. It would be very easy to have her be deluded about her abilities, but she can sing, dance, play the triangle, feed the baby, grease the car and powder her face all at the same time (some of that might be the lyrics to “I’m A Woman”, but you get the idea!) In this song Piggy is the perfect entertainer and what Frank does as a Muppeteer in creating a layered, relatable character is extraordinary. Honorable Mention: Movin’ Right Along
This song takes my heart and gives it a hug. I love it. It’s beautiful, and in my humble opinion one of the best sung performances on the chart. It’s sweet, soft and pitched perfectly. I really can’t say enough nice things about it. The mix of the traditional song with the counter melody of “Brahms’ Lullaby” is genius and takes it to a whole other level. When I was a baby “Brahms’ Lullaby” was what my mother used to sing to me, so I guess that aids my feelings for this song. As I said earlier, it’s all about personal connections! The trio of modern Muppet females that is Rosita, Zoe and Abby Cadabby is one of the best things to come out of Sesame Street as far as I’m concerned, and each one makes me love them a little bit more every time they appear. Carmen is a fantastic performer and she makes Rosita such a compelling character to watch. My acapella group is currently working on an arrangement of this song and I can’t wait to sing it for an audience. Honorable Mention: Mi Amiguita Rosita
Matt Vogel has been a Muppeteer for almost 20 years and thankfully for us fans, his hard work and dedication is paying off in spades. For me, he’s the current breakout star of the Muppet-verse. He’s taken over the role of Count von Count brilliantly and whilst his portrayal is different to what has gone before, he’s paying a wonderful homage to Jerry Nelson in his performance. And it’s not just with the Count, he’s amazing as Robin, Floyd, Camilla and a whole bunch of Jerry’s other characters. It’s great to see them all in (or on) such safe hands. But, what’s most special for me is his amazing work as Constantine in “Muppets Most Wanted”. It came as no surprise to me that at this years’ Toughpigs.com “Snuffy Awards” Matt won for “Best Performance by a Muppeteer” and Constantine was awarded “Best Performance by a Muppet”. If you ask my niece and nephew who their favorite Muppet is, the answer will probably be Kermit. If you ask them who their second favorite Muppet is they will most likely say Constantine. That’s pretty impressive – these are kids who know their stuff. “Nailed it” has become part of our family vocabulary and Constantine and Matt are true Muppet legends. This song is awesome! There’s not much more to say! Honorable Mention: I’m Number One (my nephew makes me sing it with him and, yes, I’m Number 2!)
It seems that every chance I get I seem to be telling people about my love for “Follow That Bird”. I’ll try and hold back in future, but please indulge me just once more. “I LOVE FOLLOW THAT BIRD!” Now that I’ve got that out of my system I can talk about how amazing this song is instead. It brings back such fantastic memories of my childhood and I remember wanting to give Big Bird a hug as he sang. This song always got me more emotionally invested in the story than “I’m So Blue” even though that really was supposed to be the big teary moment. There aren’t word’s to describe how much I love Alaina’s voice – I could bathe in its smooth silkiness. Martin has never sounded better with Snuffy’s usually gruff tones pared back to really show off the emotion of the piece. It’s not an obvious voice to place in a song like this, but it’s just fantastic here. I might have to move on before I need a tissue! Honorable Mention: I Am Your Friend
Remember what I said about Muppet classics? This is definitely exhibit “A” (although why you want proof all of a sudden is beyond me…) Anyway, this song won an “Oscar” which is both awesome and AWESOME! Righting the wrong that saw “Rainbow Connection” cruelly snubbed many years ago, this song got the Muppets one step closer to their EGOT. I’m so pleased that such an honor went to Peter Linz. He’s the Muppet fan’s Muppet fan. Both as himself and as Walter he understands the legacy of the Muppets and their importance to us and the world. If it’s all about “singing and dancing and making people happy” Peter has it covered and is truly following Kermit’s example by sharing that with others. This is a stunning vocal and the puppetry speaks for itself. Beautifully directed and performed, this song really does deserve all the praise it gets! Honorable Mention: Words Are Here, There and Everywhere performed by Tyler Bunch
This song was number two on my Dave Goelz chart and number one on my Karen Prell chart (hence its inclusion here), but this time it’s had to settle for number three. This is truly one of my favorite songs ever, Muppet or otherwise. It’s simple, yet simply beautiful. Its orchestration is both soaring whilst somehow remaining delicate and it’s a shining example of how amazing Fraggle Rock really is. You’ll go a long way to find two better performances by a Muppeteer, and Dave and Karen’s vocals are full of emotion. If anyone ever tells you that Muppeteers aren’t actors this is one of the clips you should play to put them right. It’s impossible to watch this and not be completely caught up in Red and Boober’s plight. The way Red’s voice breaks and Boober comforts her just gets me every time. This song is one of my most vivid memories from watching Fraggle Rock as a child and I think that’s why it’s stuck with me so much. This is probably the last time I’ll write about this song and that makes me sad, but I’ve included it three times now, which I think is a record, and that makes me happy! Honorable Mention: Beetle Song
If that person who told you that Muppeteers aren’t actors is somehow unconvinced by the previous clip, I would suggest that a) you back away slowly or b) play them this song as well. I guess in a lot of ways this song covers similar ground to the previous one in that it tackles friends and memories of friendship and is sung by a sad character(s) in a time of need. Probably the only reason this song wins out is because of my personal circumstances at the time I first saw it. “The Muppets” came out less than a year after my sister died and it’s impossible not to listen to this and apply Kermit’s feelings and these great lyrics to my relationship with her. I think we’ve all lost someone from our lives for a whole host of reasons that we wish we could connect with and this song illustrates that brilliantly. Who doesn’t want to “harmonize for one last song”? Steve does a fantastic job as Kermit, but also as Rizzo and Ernie and everyone else has ever appeared as and this for me is a perfect example of why and how. Honorable Mention: Free and High
Those of you who were hoping the mood might lighten for the number one song will no doubt be disappointed. (Remember when this chart was filled with fun songs like “The Entertainer” and “Share it Maybe” and Johnny Fiama’s Mom punched a clown?) But, you have no need to be disappointed as not only is this song superb, it also means Jerry has taken the top spot! Yaaay! I cannot tell you how much I love this song and this performance of it from Jim Henson’s Memorial Service. If you take all of the adjectives I’ve used in this article and add them together to make one giant word (maybe Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz?) you might just about get close to how fantastic I feel this song is. To me Jerry Nelson is the voice of the Muppets, its presence is like a big cuddly, reassuring blanket and it pains me that it won’t be there in future. It will, however, live on through his performances as Floyd Pepper and Robin the Frog and Count von Count and Gobo, and as new generations of Muppet fans find his work they will come to love it too. As Kermit says “Boy, I wish I were you people watching this for the first time.” Honorable Mention: While My Guitar Gently Weeps
So it’s “Thank You” time once again. I need to say a huge thanks to all of the people who appear on this top 10 (did anyone else spot that Bill Barretta sneaked three songs on the chart?) I think I can speak for all Muppet fans when I say that you’ve made our lives brighter, richer and more fulfilling. We’re happier, more tolerant and better at speaking Spanish than we would have been without you. Writing these charts is such an honor, but strangely it’s one of the hardest AND easiest things I’ve ever had to do. It’s been impossibly difficult to pick just 10 songs and then rank them each week (I often feel sorry for all those 11th placers – perhaps there’s a chart in that?), but the quality on show has made finding and listening to songs so easy and such a lot of fun. The Muppets have been a huge part of my life since before I can remember and for the last six months I’ve gotten to write about them and have people appreciate my words! There are more Top 10s to come, but in the meantime, Muppeteers one and all – Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!