The Top 10 Songs of: The Last Ten Charts!

The Top 10

Kieran Moore – As regular readers will know a few months ago I set about randomly selecting Muppet characters to feature in my weekly charts. I can hardly believe it, but last week’s Gonzo list was actually the tenth in the series meaning it’s time for my regular rundown of the last 10 charts! I’ve been thinking of these character charts in a similar fashion to bubblegum cards so these 10 are the first series with Dr. Teeth being “Number 1 in a series of…” and Gonzo being number 10. Next year I’ll start “Series 2” and so on. I’m mentioning this mostly because there have been a handful of special charts recently (Hallowe’en etc.) and they aren’t included here. I really wanted to keep this just to the 10 characters featured so we can build up a definitive list over time.

We’ve highlighted some classic characters throughout the series and every one of the songs listed below shows them at their absolute best. So sit down, grab a drinking vessel of your preferred beverage and set phasers to “fun” – it’s time to start the chart…

10 – Row, Row, Row – Wayne & Wanda – The Muppet Show

I suppose it goes without saying that this was number one on my Wayne and Wanda chart. One of the main reasons this got to number one was simply that they managed to get to a chorus – a pretty big achievement for them! When I wrote my chart about Wayne and Wanda I found myself pondering what life at home must be like for them. I think it’s kind of neat that there are Muppet characters we only really see in the context of the show meaning we are free to hypothesize and have fun imagining their back stories. Richard Hunt and Eren Ozker (and the Muppet Show writers) imbue Wayne and Wanda with an underdog vibe that really makes me want them to succeed just once. I think they deserve that. After all it’s not where you start, it’s where you f-… Honorable Mention: “Some Enchanted Evening”

9 – Sonny Boy – Link Hogthrob – The Muppet Show

Ah, the “ever handsome Link Hogwash”! Link is a great character. A ham in every sense he shows terrific range throughout his time on The Muppet Show. He can do high-drama, low-drama, middling-drama… He’s wonderfully comedic, yet not afraid to show his gentler side as he does with this song. Listening to him sing Sonny Boy it’s hard to believe that Jim Henson also sang “Rainbow Connection” or “Cottleston Pie” and yet they are all unmistakably him. I really rate Jim’s voice here. I’m sure it’s not easy to sing as Link and yet this is still a very emotional performance that tugs at the heartstrings. Simply set with just Link and a real piglet, this provides a calming contrast to some of the Muppets’ more madcap moments which is another reason I enjoy it so much. I’m still working on my “Missing Link” campaign for “The Muppets (2015)” by the way! Honorable Mention: La Ci Darem La Mano

8 – Light Opera Alphabet – Mr. Snuffleupagus & Judy Collins – Sesame Street

Mr. Snuffleupagus (Snuffy to his friends) is such a striking character visually. I think this might be why he’s so beloved. He quite literally stands out from the crowd and is instantly recognizable. Snuffy has had a variety of performers over the years, but in this clip his front end is being played by Jerry Nelson and I’m reliably informed that Brian Muehl is actually doing the singing. It’s a great vocal performance and as much as I enjoy Brian’s work as a puppeteer and writer I think he might have missed his vocation in life. Judy Collins is fantastic (as ever). She is another member of that great gang of celebrities that works so well with Muppets. You either have it or you don’t and Judy definitely has it. I just love the fact that this is presented in such a straight manner. A furry pachyderm-like creature, dressed in classical attire, duetting in a light opera version of “The ABC Song” is presented as an every day occurrence with not even the slightest ironic wink to the camera. Superb. Honorable Mention: “On Top of Spaghetti”

7 – How Wide, How Far, How Long – Junior Gorg – Fraggle Rock

I’ll admit I’m as surprised as you are that this song ranks as low as seventh place on this list. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. Whenever I write a chart whether it be about a Muppet performer or a character I always find myself inadvertently developing a deeper understanding and greater love for the subject. My Junior Gorg chart was no exception. Watching the show as a child I really just saw the Gorgs as “the bad guys”. Sure they weren’t as stereotypically nasty as the average villain, but they did want to catch the Fraggles a lot. Several decades later I see things differently and having had the chance to examine Junior a bit more thoroughly I now find him to be a much more sympathetic character. Richard Hunt is performing his face and voice here and Frank Meschkuleit is his body and together they really sell the emotion of the piece: Honorable Mention: “Goodtime Goombah Soup”

6 – I Seen Troubles – Marjory the Trash Heap with Philo and Gunge

I’m having trouble typing because somehow this song takes over my body. It’s a bit like that “Banana Boat Song” moment from “Beetlejuice” – I just have to move along to the music. It’s like an out of body experience! Every guitar strain, every harmonica riff just elevates me higher. Every home should have a Trash Heap. It’s not just good environmental policy; it’s also a way to have the very best advice right on your doorstep (or at the end of your yard). Marjory is one of the things that makes Fraggle Rock so special. Although her appearances dwindled as the show went on, she was generally the most sensible “adult” figure it had – despite being one of the youngest characters technically speaking. Jerry Nelson has just the right kind of voice for this track and is as dependably fantastic as ever. Honorable Mention: “Lover, Lover Number 9”

5 – Pukka, Pukka, Pukka Squeetily Boink – Wembley Fraggle – Fraggle Rock

Completing our trio of Fraggle Rock songs is this jaunty jazz-inspired ditty from Wembley. I think Fraggle Rock was really the first time I came to know Steve Whitmire properly. As a child I used to get a kick out of hearing his voice pop up in things like “The Tale of The Bunny Picnic” and along with performers like Jim Henson and Richard Hunt his vocal tones became synonymous with the Muppets for me. Back when I was too young to really be worried about who was performing whom, I could still match his characters together and far from that being a bad thing it became a reassuring sign of Muppet quality. Wembley is the Fraggle I’m probably most like if I’m honest. Indecisive and with a closet full of bright shirts – if my eyes could swivel we’d be twins! Honorable Mention: “Feel So Bad”

4 – Lazy Bones – Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem – The Muppet Show

This is the musical equivalent of a glass of warm milk. My words per minute rate just plummeted through the floor and I can feel myself floating away to a serene symphonic slumber as I listen to this. Dr. Teeth is known for his “golden teeth and golden tones” and this is definitely the latter. I guess it’s not spoiling anything to say that this is Jim Henson’s last appearance on today’s list. I’ve always loved him as Dr. Teeth. For me there’s a “holy trinity” that includes Dr. Teeth at one point, Cantus Fraggle on another and Jim on the third. I didn’t know Jim, but all three feel like variations on the same theme, especially in one of Dr. Teeth’s more mellow moments such as this. I’m going to take this opportunity to lobby once more for an Electric Mayhem album. Come on Disney, you’re leaving money on the table (and in my pocket). Honorable Mention: “You Can’t Take No for an Answer”

3 – I Need a Word – Grover & Dave Matthews – Sesame Street

I need a word too – a word that sums up just how amazing this song is. It’s beautiful, but that’s not enough. It’s exquisite, but in isolation that doesn’t work. It’s heartfelt, but that doesn’t do it justice. If there’s a single word that can capture the essence of this incredible song I’m not sure I know it. Perhaps incredible is the closest I’ll get. Grover has always been one of my favorite Sesame Street characters and whether performed by Frank Oz or Eric Jacobson (as is the case here) there’s a certain something about him that I love. I love that fact that he tries so hard. I love the fact that he’s a good friend. I love the fact that he can be silly. I love the fact that he’s lovable. Eric really is as good as he’s ever been with this song. The Emmys might not recognize him next year for his acting on “The Muppets (2015)”, but he emotes every word beautifully here. Dave Matthews is also fantastic. His musicianship just takes the whole thing to another level. Honorable Mention: “Monster in the Mirror”

2 – Wishing Song – The Great Gonzo – The Muppet Show

As I mentioned just last week on my Gonzo chart, Wishing Song has a very special place in my heart. Quite possibly the most special place that’s available. It was a tough decision to place this at number two. Gonzo has soul to spare and nowhere is it in evidence more than in this simply stunning song. As we head into winter I find myself comparing it to a beautiful crystalline snowflake. A natural work of art, a glimmering, intricate thing of beauty that shines in the light, wending its way through the sky until it finally settles covering the world in magic and wonder. That might all sound like poetic nonsense and it probably is, but this song inspires that sort of prose as far as I’m concerned. Dave Goelz has never given a bad performance as Gonzo, but this truly is one of his finest hours. Honorable Mention: “I’m Going to go Back There Someday”

1 – Wild Thing – Floyd Pepper, Kermit the Frog & Animal

In direct contrast to the previous song, this track just makes me smile and is full of happy memories of family trips and sing-alongs. You see, I’ve loved this song ever since I first heard it and over the years it has featured on countless mix-tapes/CDs/playlists that I’ve created. It genuinely is part of the soundtrack of my life. I love its mash-up of Kermit’s laidback ukulele take on the song and Floyd and Animal’s rock rendering. They’re styles you wouldn’t instantly put together, but they work incredibly well. Floyd is the “King of Cool”, the “Sultan of Style” and the “Head of the Hip” all in one greatly groovy package. I love that he treats music with reverence. It isn’t always necessary, but it’s good to know someone has its back! Once again Jerry Nelson has taken a top spot on one of my charts and I couldn’t be happier that it’s for this song. Honorable Mention: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

So there we have it. This paragraph officially signals the end of the first series of my character charts. For the trivia hunters amongst you we’ve had two songs from Sesame Street, three from Fraggle Rock and five from classic Muppet Show characters. There are at least three major Sesame Street names sitting forlornly in the CD case that has been doubling as my randomizer; they along with seven others will get their chance in the New Year, but for now let’s celebrate the 10 characters (or 11 technically thanks to Wayne and Wanda) who have provided us with a plethora a marvellous musical moments. Each song is a masterpiece and some of the finest work the Muppets have ever done. Thank You to everyone who had a hand in these songs whether literally or figuratively. I salute you!

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