Kieran Moore – I love Christmas Eve! In fact, I think for me it’s even more magical than Christmas Day. I’m sure we all have Christmas Eve traditions and mine include some last minute shopping (even if I’m done I love visiting the mall to soak up the desperate atmosphere), tidying the house, wrapping presents, listening to carols, Chinese take-out (I don’t remember when that became a tradition, but it did) and, although it’s not my “home” religion, I often attend midnight mass. However, above all of these my Christmas Eve has to include Muppets in some way, shape or form.
This year I’m breaking with tradition and most of the above won’t happen, but the Muppet part definitely will as I’m attending a “Mulled Wine and Mince Pies” showing of “Muppet Christmas Carol” in London. I’d love it if your Christmas Eve is extra-specially Muppety too and I figured what better way to make that dream a reality than with an extra-special Christmas Eve chart.
So make sure your stockings are “hung by the chimney with care” and whatever you do don’t stir (even if you are a mouse) as we countdown the Top 10 Songs of Christmas Eve!
10 – Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913 – John Denver – John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together
Before I say anything else I have to explain why this song is so low on my chart – it is simply because of the lack of actual Muppets taking part. Had they even joined in for some harmonies at the end it would have been enough to shoot this song several places up the list. I love the album that this song comes from and it simply isn’t Christmas until I listen to it at least once. The lyrics for this song come from a poem written by Robert Bridges and although I can’t be sure, I’ve often wondered whether the year 1913 was somehow a reference to the last Christmas before World War One. Over the last year I’ve been lucky enough to travel to France and Belgium several times to visit war memorials and cemeteries and on one of these trips I learnt the story of “The Angels of Mons” – a legend that says a band of angels protected a group of British soldiers in battle. The lyrics of this song remind me of that story with its reference to not knowing whether the music was that of angels or something else. I’m sure this link is in my head, but I think it’s kind of cool.
9 – Moulin Scrooge – The Muppets – It’s a Very Muppet Christmas Movie
As this very website discussed only a week or so ago there’s a lot to like about It’s a Very Merry Christmas Movie and there’s also a lot to (let’s be honest) not like. For me though one of the things to love is this song/sketch which is the absolute highlight of the movie in my opinion. It’s a musical moment so it instantly scores points for that, but it’s also hilariously funny and a pin sharp parody of the same scene from “Moulin Rouge”. No-one does a send up like the Muppets. I especially like the part where everyone is singing over the top of each other – it couldn’t be more perfect. “Santa Baby” has become Miss Piggy’s Christmas theme song, but each of the core Muppets gets something to do and we even see more unusual characters like Robin and the Elvises. Add in chickens, penguins and a very “Muppet Show” season one-esque Janice and it’s pretty much the perfect Christmas storm!
8 – I Hate Christmas – Oscar the Grouch – Christmas Eve on Sesame Street
At least Oscar does! It makes perfect sense that Oscar (and Grouches in general) wouldn’t enjoy a season of goodwill, but with my admittedly limited knowledge of Sesame Street I was shocked at just how mean-spirited Oscar actually is during this song! I’m not sure when things like vandalism became OK – even if you are a Grouch. I do quite like the idea of Oscar telling Santa where to stick his toys though! Presumably it’s back on his sleigh… In the true spirit of the season I am, however, prepared to forgive Oscar’s transgressions! I’m sure that would make him angry which in turn will make him happy, which in turn will make him angry… and equilibrium is restored just in time for Santa to get the sharp end of… Oscar’s temper!
7 – My Best Christmas Yet – The Muppets, Claire and Claire’s Mom – A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa
And now to our first Paul Williams song (we all know there will be more)! I think the songs are one of the best things about this special (which is actually more fun than its reputation would have you believe) and I really enjoy the sing-along feel this number has. It’s lead by Gonzo, Kermit and Robin and I’ve been mulling it over, but I think with the exception of actual Christmas characters I think they might be the Muppets that capture the spirit of Christmas more than any other. With Gonzo we get a huge amount of heart and soul as well as the craziness that often accompanies this time of year; Kermit represents humanity at its best (as far as a frog can) and Robin shows us childlike wonder and awe and adds a sense of family. That sure sounds like Christmas to me! I like that lots of characters get little moments in this number and especially appreciate Zoot’s Hanukkah greeting. Shalom indeed!
6 – True Blue Miracle – Sesame Street Cast – Christmas Eve on Sesame Street
Wow! Oscar’s really racking up the misdemeanours in this chart. Now he’s fare dodging on the subway! This is a sweet song with a slight calypso feel that talks about Christmas-time itself being a miracle and not just a celebration of one. I think that’s pretty neat. Away from any religious aspect, Christmas is still full of magic. Whether it is Santa and his gift giving abilities or a more physical embodiment like your family all managing to stay in the same room for eight hours without a murder taking place, this is certainly the most magical time of year. Without exception I have to say that the Sesame Street cast members who perform this song are excellent singers. Their vocals are amazing – clean, clear and bright; they add immensely to the feeling of peace and love that this song invokes.
5 – Annual Carol Sing – Cast – A Muppet Family Christmas
This is the only song to appear on this chart that also featured in a previous Christmas chart (it was number two last year). Of course, there was no way I could not feature A Muppet Family Christmas and although I mulled over several other songs that I enjoy including “Sleigh Ride” “The Christmas Song” and “We Need a Little Christmas” this really is the song (or songs) that capture the spirit of this special the best. Mostly because is features everyone from Kermit to Doc (and all those in between), but also because it might just be the most Christmassy thing the Muppets have ever done. A thought just occurred to me – although the Fraggles are represented we don’t see a Gorg. How cool would it have been for Junior’s giant eye to suddenly appear at the window to join in with a chorus of “Silent Night”?
4 – Brothers in Our World – Alice Otter & the Frogtown Jubilee Jug Band
And we’re back to Paul Williams! For my money this is one of his best ever compositions. I love a good mash-up! My a cappella group perform several of them and it always tickles me to find songs that fit together. Of course these were written for that very purpose, but it makes it no less impressive. I haven’t given out much in the way of performer credits in this chart, but I have to mention Marilyn Sokol here for her beautiful vocals as Alice Otter. How Alice (or the band) didn’t win the talent contest is anyone’s guess. Can we call Simon Cowell for a recount? Although not a Christmas-themed song itself, this certainly carries the same sentiments as many of the other songs on this chart and it reminds me of Kermit’s “The Christmas Wish” which is never a bad thing.
3 – Silent Night – John Denver and the Muppets – John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together
I didn’t mention it at the start, but the criteria for a song’s inclusion on this list is that it either has a reference to Christmas Eve or be performed on that day in its respective show/special. This song (kind of) fits both criteria as not only does it talk about the night itself; it was also first performed on Christmas Eve as part of a church service in Austria. This album is a very strong contender for my favorite thing the Muppets have ever done. Furthermore, Silent Night might be my favorite Christmas carol ever and this is definitely my favorite version of it. I guess it wouldn’t be too much of a leap to say therefore that this song could very easily have been number one on this list and that’s most definitely true, but perhaps there are still a couple of songs that sum up that special Christmas Eve feeling even better…?
2 – Keep Christmas with You (All Through the Year) – Bob, Linda and Children’s Chorus – Christmas Eve on Sesame Street
I’m not sure if Christmas Eve on Sesame Street ever aired in the UK and if it did I certainly don’t remember watching it in 1978 (I was six months old so I get a pass), but it is a truly special “special”. I know it’s beloved by not only those who viewed its original airing, but also the generations that have followed so I feel a huge amount of trepidation as I have to write about this wonderful song. I know it’s held so warmly in people’s hearts. Not only is this song incredible, it’s incredibly beautiful. A few weeks ago I compared “The Wishing Song” to a snowflake, but perhaps the comparison is more apt here. It’s light and delicate and unique. It twinkles and sparkles and when examined closely is intricate in its beauty, but when viewed from a distance is soft and serene. I love the sign language that accompanies the music – it becomes a kind of dance routine that emphasizes the lyrics. Finally, how awesome is Bob?
1 – One More Sleep ‘til Christmas – Bob Cratchit – The Muppet Christmas Carol
There magic in the air this evening,
Magic in the air
The world is at her best, you know
When people love and care,
The promise of excitement is one the night will keep
After all, there’s only one more sleep ‘til Christmas.
The world has got a smile today
The world has got a glow
There’s no such thing as strangers when
A stranger says hello
And everyone is family, we’re having so much fun
After all, there’s only one more sleep ‘til Christmas
‘Tis the season to be jolly and joyous
With a burst of pleasure, we feel it arrive
It’s the season when the saints can employ us
To spread the news about peace and to keep love alive
There’s something in the wind today
That’s good for everyone
Yes, faith is in our hearts today
We’re shining like the sun
And everyone can feel it, the feeling’s running deep
After all, there’s only one more sleep ‘til Christmas
After all, there’s only one more sleep ‘til Christmas day
It occurred to me as I listened to “One More Sleep ‘til Christmas” that I was never going to be able to explain the joy of Christmas Eve any better than those lyrics do. They sum up exactly what I’ve been trying to say all the way through this piece and I figured “if you can’t beat them join them”!
I hope this chart really has shown off the splendour and excitement of Christmas Eve – that was certainly my goal. It truly is “the most wonderful time of the year”.
As soon as I had the idea for this chart I emailed Jarrod who runs The Muppet Mindset to see if I could bag the highly sought after Christmas Eve slot and he very graciously said yes, so I’d like to extend a special festive thank you to him. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas. I hope it’s as Muppet-filled as you wish – I know mine will be!