Kieran Moore – In an ideal world this chart would start out something like this:
“15 seconds to chart, Mr Moore. 15 seconds to chart.”
“Thank you Scooter. Say, before I start can you get me a new pen?”
“Sure thing, what’s the problem?”
“I can’t get the pigs out of this one!”
It’s a pigpen joke. I guess if I have to explain it, it ain’t funny.
Perhaps this instead:
“15 seconds to chart, Mr Moore. 15 seconds to chart.”
“Thank you Scooter. Would you mind getting me a Shakespeare pencil?”
“Sure thing Mr. Moore – 2B or not 2B?”
That seems suitably silly, but how about something more ridiculous?
Let’s try this:
“15 seconds to chart, Mr Moore. 15 seconds to chart.”
“Thank you Scooter. Say, before I start do you know why a raven is like a writing desk?”
“Well, gee… er, I don’t know.”
“Me neither, but if you can help get my writing desk down from its perch then I’ll ask it!”
As you may have guessed (if the title didn’t already tip you off) today we’re counting down the top 10 songs sung by Scooter. (Try the fish.)
10 – At the Hop – Scooter and the Frog Chorus – The Muppet Show
When I pulled Scooter’s name from my (now reinstated) CD case to become the subject of my 11th character-based chart I was very happy because Scooter is my favorite Muppet. In the interests of full disclosure I guess I should reveal that now. He pretty much always has been. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate his can-do spirit, his loyalty to Kermit and his youthful exuberance, but if I’m completely honest the main reason he became my favorite Muppet was simply because he wore glasses. As do I. I’ve worn eyeglasses for about as long as I can remember and as a youngster growing up I naturally gravitated to any character that was the same as I could readily identify with them. It didn’t hurt that I also wanted to be Kermit’s right hand man! Over the years I’ve come to appreciate Scooter for all the reasons I listed above and his “youthful exuberance” is in full flow in this criminally short number. I so wish he’d finished as this song would surely have scored higher than 10th place.
9 – We’re Off to See the Wizard – Scooter, Gonzo, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear – The Muppets Go to the Movies
A few weeks ago I mentioned how much I enjoyed “The Wizard of Oz” and it seems that (along with Janice) so do all of the Muppets. In fact there’s so much Muppets/Oz output I’ve been tempted in the past to write a “Wizard of Oz” chart. Controversial maybe, but I think that on the whole the music in “Muppets Wizard of Oz” is pretty good and songs like “Kansas” and “When I’m With You” I would happily chart in a high position. I think Scooter makes a very good Scarecrow and had Kermit not needed a starring role in the more recent TV movie the juxtaposition of having a clever character play someone with no brain could have been quite fun. Never mind. Either way this is a great song, performers at the top of their game, cool variant puppets and some humor for good measure. What’s not to love?
8 – There’s a New Sound – Scooter and the Worms – The Muppet Show
This song was written by Tony Burello and Tom Murray and first released in 1953. They had noticed that novelty records seemed to be doing well in terms of radio airplay and decided to try recording one for themselves. There’s a New Sound became a surprise hit which lead Jim Henson to use it on “Sam and Friends” a few years later. Jim is on record as saying this song is “terrible” and it’s true that it can be annoying. However, that said, maybe it’s my love of Scooter or just Richard Hunt’s fantastic performance, but somehow I find this version to be just about within reasonable limits. Although it appears on several Muppet audio releases, this is so much better to watch than to listen to as the puppetry is captivating. I was always unsure why this song was given to Scooter, but perhaps he and Richard were the only duo who could get away with it?!
7 – On Her Doorstep Last Night – Scooter and Fozzie Bear – The Muppet Show
This is yet another goofy novelty song. Poor Scooter certainly seems to get them… Scooter has a great rapport with Fozzie so I guess I’m not giving anything away to say that this pair will be back again later. Whether performing or in backstage plot moments they always seem to work well together and in an alternative universe I could see a Muppet world where Kermit, Fozzie and Scooter take the lead with Gonzo taking a step back. I know that’s unthinkable now, but imagine if it had always been that way and Gonzo only really came to the fore after we lost Richard. It could have happened… Kermit, his best friend and his closest colleague is a very believable team up.
6 – Just One Person – Scooter and the Muppets – Jim Henson’s Memorial Service
Speaking of losing people… I defy anyone to watch this and not get a lump in their throat and something in their eye. I guess you could argue that this isn’t really a Scooter song, but I’d counter that with two points of my own. First, Scooter certainly does take the lead here; second, who cares? This is simply beautiful and deserves a place in every Muppet chart ever. I suppose if I’m being honest its placing here at number six is a concession to the first argument as it certainly could be higher. As much as it pains me, I guess that this is a good point to mention Scooter’s wilderness years after the untimely passing of Richard Hunt. Richard died January 7th, 1992 and as we commemorate the 24th anniversary of this sad event it adds an extra layer of poignancy to this video to note that less than two years later the same cathedral would also host his memorial service. Two moments in this song stand out for me – the beautiful way that Richard (as Scooter) and Jerry Nelson (as Gobo) sound together; and Richard’s final high note – it’s tough to catch, but it’s breathtaking.
5 – Moves like Jagger – Scooter, Pepe and the Penguins – Muppets Most Wanted
This, along with the previous number, is the very definition of “From the sublime to the ridiculous”. Scooter had been out of the limelight for a while, but I think we can all agree that with “The Muppets (2015)” his star is definitely ascending. I can’t quite work out whether this song contradicts his new momma’s boy persona or was the start of it. In my mind at least it doesn’t quite sit right that the guy who thinks “good grief” is “swearing like a sailor” would sing this song, but never mind. This is David Rudman’s only song on this chart and I’m so pleased that it exists if for no other reason than it allows me to mention him and the amazing work he’s doing at the moment. Who’d have thought that in 2015 Scooter would be one of the stand-out characters on primetime TV? No, me either. I think Scooter is the character that David was born to play, I really do and I thank the heavens for him every time I watch the show.
4 – Guest Star Song – Scooter – The Muppet Show
This song proves that although his signature characters didn’t sing much, Richard certainly had the chops to do more. This is incredibly well written and brilliantly sung. It’s also hilarious! Scooter’s relationship with the guest stars (as illustrated in my terrible attempts at parody in the introduction) was an integral part of the show. His love of celebrity occasionally crossed the bounds of professionalism, but we loved him for it anyway. I guess in some ways he was the “everyman” of The Muppet Show reacting just as we might in the presence of our favorite stars. Scooter’s cold openings in seasons 2-4 meant that at the very least we’d see a few seconds of him in every episode and I guess this is another reason why I latched on to him at an early age – a sighting of Scooter on my TV signalled the start of Muppety goodness.
3 – Mr Bassman – Scooter, Sgt. Floyd Pepper and the Electric Mayhem – The Muppet Show
This song was number one when I featured Richard Hunt in his very own chart back in 2014 and I stand by that. This song is arguably his finest musical moment. I guess there are just two songs that I deem more Scootery! This song, amongst other things, highlights the tremendous partnership of Richard and Jerry Nelson once again. It also shows how much Scooter wants to perform and that the smell of the greasepaint was generally his driving force in the early days. I think all of the top three songs have elements of that. When Scooter made the comment about not going onstage in “The Muppets (2011)” I must admit that my heart sank a little. Here was a movie getting the Muppets so right yet getting my favorite character so wrong. You may as well have had The Swedish Chef sign up to PETA!
2 – Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear – Scooter, Fozzie and Rowlf – The Muppet Show
And this song is a case in point. Right from the very first episode Scooter was out onstage. In fact he was quite happy to use underhand tactics to get himself there. I guess it could be argued that this is Scooter’s best known song – partly because of its inclusion in episode one of the show, but also because of it’s multiple audio releases. Scooter seems to inhabit a special place in the Muppet hierarchy. He’s certainly not one of the big Muppet names like Kermit or Miss Piggy (though the new show seems to be doing its best to change that), but he’s certainly at a higher level than Lew Zealand or The Swedish Chef. At the same time he hasn’t quite achieved cult status like Beaker or Animal. I guess he’s on a par with someone like Rowlf which I guess I can live with. Now if only we could see more Rowlf…
1 – Six String Orchestra – Scooter and the Electric Mayhem – The Muppet Show
I’m incredibly happy that I’ve been able to crown this song as number one. It’s appeared twice before in my charts, but never quite made it to the top. Scooter’s closing lament of “Someday I’m gonna be a star” is another piece of evidence in the case I’m building against his character assassination in “The Muppets (2011)”. Speaking of Scooter’s character, I really do hope they tone down some of his newer traits in the “retooled” version. His nerdishness was kind of funny at first, but is bordering on Flanderization now. Question – What does this song have in common with Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Answer – Luke Skywalker doesn’t say anything in either of them. (Can we do a Star Wars spoiler joke yet? We’ve all seen it, right?) I think this song has just about everything that a good Muppet song should have. It’s funny and heartfelt; it has a definite concept and fantastic visuals; it’s brilliantly performed and has the power to stay with you long after it’s finished. Did either set appear again in the show? They are both so well realized it’s a shame if they didn’t reuse them. There are some neat touches here such as Scooter’s ghostlike voice when we first move to the performance set, but then for my money the whole thing is amazing!
Songs like Six String Orchestra have a bittersweet feel about them. Bitter because Richard Hunt has never sounded better but is no longer around to capture the lightning in the bottle, but also sweet because in David Rudman’s capable hands it provides a blueprint to just how fantastic Scooter can be.
I’ve found this chart quite difficult to write. I always find it’s easier to wax lyrical about things I don’t like and as Scooter is so beloved to me putting that into words has been a challenge; also writing this on the anniversary week of Richard’s death has really made choosing the right words seem extra important. Scooter was genuinely drawn at random, but I’d like to think a higher power was at work as I really can’t think of a better character to write about this week. Thank you to whoever guided me to pick out Scooter’s name and thank you to Scooter himself for being the medium with which I have been able to pay tribute to a very special man. Thank You.
BONUS – When we put together our Gift Wrap Up yesterday, we completely forgot to add Kieran’s haul! So below you’ll find what he got for Christmas.
Kieran got a Muppet/Star Wars shirt, a Kermit Wikkeez, a Kermit clock, a Swedish Chef mug, a Muppets Most Wanted watch, a set of Muppet Babies figures, a Muppet chocolate bar, a vintage ‘Make Your Own Scooter’ kit (how fitting!), and a collage K made by his niece!
He also gave an amazing Muppet gift to his niece and nephew – it’s a ragdoll with Kermit on one side, and Constantine on the other. Disney need to make 4 million of them, right now!