Kieran Moore – I mentioned last week that having reached the milestone of 50 Top 10 charts I had toyed with presenting a definitive list of all of the number one songs in my order of preference. Partly for my own curiosity, but also because several people asked, I gave myself the arduous task of putting 50 of the best ever Muppet songs in order and that is what I present to you today. There’s a lot to get through so without further ado let the countdown commence…
50 – Row, Row, Row – Wayne & Wanda Chart
49 – Six (My Favorite Number is) – The Muppet Mindset Birthday Chart
48 – Sonny Boy – Link Hogthrob Chart
47 – Stinky’s Love Song – Joey Mazzarino Chart
46 – Light Opera Alphabet – Mr. Snuffleupagus Chart
45 – Alphabet Song – Louise Gold Chart
44 – It’s a Small World – Disney Chart
43 – Please Don’t Bump into Me – Fran Brill Chart
42 – My Own Fairytale – Leslie Carrara–Rudolph Chart
41 – Put Down the Ducky – Kevin Clash Chart
I can’t say how awful I feel about having to put these songs so low on the list especially as some of my favorite Muppet performers are here. Just look at those names: Joey, Louise, Fran, Leslie and Kevin. It just about kills me!
40 – Share it Maybe – David Rudman Chart
39 – Little Things – Prairie Dawn Chart
38 – You and Me against the World – Bill Barretta Chart
37 – What Now My Love? – Muppet Break Up Chart
36 – I Will Survive – Hallowe’en Chart
35 – The Entertainer – Frank Oz Chart
34 – Kodachrome – 2015 Chart
33 – Lazy Bones – Dr. Teeth Chart
32 – How Wide, How Far, How Long – Junior Gorg Chart
31 – The Muppet Show Theme – TV Theme Tunes Chart
It’s interesting that we get two Miss Piggy and two Electric Mayhem songs in this section. Both will be back, but you might have thought they’d be higher. The same could be said for The Muppet Show Theme; true it’s a classic and a song everyone knows, but Muppet music is so much more.
30 – Sweet Vacation – Summer Vacation Chart
29 – Pukka, Pukka, Pukka, Squeetily Boink – Wembley Fraggle Chart
28 – Tides (Jerry Nelson) – Muppeteers in Non-Muppet Roles Chart
27 – I Seen Troubles – The Trash Heap Chart
26 – Mr. Bassman – Richard Hunt Chart
25 – Six String Orchestra – Scooter Chart
24 – Something So Right – Eric Jacobson Chart
23 – Bein Green’ (Rowlf) – Rainbow Connection Chart
22 – To Morrow – USA Road Trip Chart
21 – Duermete Mi Niño – Carmen Osbahr Chart
Look at that list! It’s amazing! You could change those numbers to 1-10 and that would still be a valid top 10 in my book. Spare a thought for Scooter who despite being my favorite Muppet appears three times in succession here (including his line in Something So Right), but (spoiler alert) sadly doesn’t appear again.
20 – Ragtime Queen – Kathryn Mullen Chart
19 – The Grouch Anthem – Caroll Spinney Chart
18 – I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu) – Matt Vogel Chart
17 – Man or Muppet – Unsung Heroes Chart
16 – One More Sleep ‘til Christmas – Christmas Eve Chart
15 – Turn the World Around – Muppet Show Guest Stars of ’79 Chart
14 – Wild Thing – Sgt. Floyd Pepper Chart
13 – Children of Tomorrow – Fraggle Rock Group Songs Chart
12 – Pictures in My Head – Steve Whitmire Chart
11 – In the Good Old Summertime – Muppet Show Guest Stars of ’78 Chart
In the battle of the movies I’ll Get You What You Want has beaten Something So Right and (proving the Academy knows nothing) Pictures in My Head has beaten Man or Muppet. In the Good Old Summertime is such a great song – I can’t believe it missed out on the top 10. Well done to Steve Whitmire for scoring 4 places here though!
10 – Wishing Song – The Great Gonzo Chart
I’m not going to write huge swathes about each of the top 10 songs as my thoughts are already out there, but I really do have to say a few words about them. Gonzo is such a special character and a proven fan favorite. He has brilliant, quirky moments like “Love in a Laundromat” or times when he’s laugh out loud funny like “Gonzo’s Song”, but I love him best when he’s soulful as he is in this number. It’s this range of emotions and the fully rounded character that Dave Goelz has created that make him such an icon. Long may he continue to make me cry with laughter.
9 – I Need a Word – Grover Chart
A bit like the previous song this just melts my heart. Eric Jacobson as Grover is just fantastic. This really is Muppet acting at its finest. It’s so full of emotion that like all the best Muppet moments you absolutely forget that this is being sung by an inanimate object (sorry kids!) Musically I love it too; I think you’d be hard pushed to find a Muppet fan that doesn’t have a thing for banjos. I have to give a high five to Dave Matthews for his part on this song not just as a performer, but also as a writer. His simple orchestration really allows Joey Mazzarino’s lyrics to take center stage. I found a word – stunning.
8 – One Little Star – Martin P. Robinson Chart
I guess now that we’re three songs in you can see a ballad shaped hole forming in the top 10. It’s true I love a heartfelt ballad and I’m not afraid to say it. This song brings back such wonderful memories for me. My younger siblings and I would watch “Follow That Bird” on VHS a lot. For a while this movie and a taped off the TV copy of “The Great Muppet Caper” were my Muppet world. This song is the moment when Big Bird’s plight really hit home for me. I was never as moved by “I’m So Blue” as I think I was supposed to be. Even at a young age it felt a bit overdone. This however, was a real kicker for me. I have to give a quick mention to Caroll Spinney, Martin P. Robinson and Alaina Reed for being awesome.
7 – When the River Meets the Sea – Jerry Nelson Chart
This is such a special rendition of such a special song. It’s got an amazing pedigree; written by Paul Williams, originated by Marilyn Sokol and performed here by two of the best Muppet singers ever – Jerry Nelson and Louise Gold. It’s hard to believe that this has peaked as low as number seven. Jerry and Louise really have a phenomenal talent for singing. I very much doubt they had to strive too hard to put the emotion into this performance, but they always pitch a song just right whether it is done with humor or heart. Speaking of heart, mine crumbles every time I hear the moment when Jerry breaks and Louise picks up the slack. I’ve often wondered if her solo verse was deliberate.
6 – Friendship Song – Karen Prell Chart
Ok, I’ll admit it; this chart is turning into a bit of a downer, but look at how great these songs are! I have loved this song for years and years. It’s another VHS job for me. Fraggle Rock videos were a regular rental for us and “Marooned” was always a highlight. Truthfully, the reason I wanted to watch the episode so much was this song. Just like Grover above, Red and Boober have such tremendous emotion in their voices that you forget not only that they are puppets, but also that the makers are unlikely to “off” two major characters in a kids show. It’s impossible not to get wrapped up in this. I would say this moment more than any other in the entire show followed me from childhood into adulthood. Bravo Dave Goelz and Karen Prell.
5 – The Christmas Wish – Muppet Christmas Productions Chart
I can’t tell you how happy I am that this song cracked the top five! Jim Henson is at his heart-warming best. The Muppets (as well as Christmas) are all about inclusion and love and being with people who treat you like family even if you aren’t. We’ve all dreamed that one day Walter’s story will become ours and that Kermit will invite us to be part of the gang, but while we wait for that day it’s important to create our own band of Muppets – people who we feel an affinity with and that match our philosophy on life. This song reminds us that while we might all have different backgrounds we all have a common starting point – love. As long as we believe in love we are brothers and sisters and more than ever that’s a message we need to hear.
4 – Shadow’s Lullaby – Bear in the Big Blue House Chart
I guess pitched here in 4th place amongst some very well-known songs this feels a bit like “the little song that could”, but I absolutely love it. In fact I love it so much in fact that I’m actually in the early stages of working on an arrangement of it as a duet with a very-talented musician friend. The idea that shadows are actually watching out for us while we sleep is such a clever one and I bet has really helped a few parents out in the past – especially after Doctor Who invented the Vashta Nerada! Tara Mooney has a stunning voice and I’ve always thought Noel MacNeal is fantastic as Bear. Both singers have a clarity in their vocals that I’m not sure any other Muppet performer comes close too.
3 – Rainbow Connection – Jim Henson Chart
The one that started it all! If it weren’t for my Jim Henson chart I probably wouldn’t be sitting here now. Well technically I probably would still be in my living room, but you get my point. What can I say about this song that hasn’t already been said? Probably very little. When I first dipped my toe back into the world of singing about eight years ago this was the first song I performed as a solo vocalist. Rehearsing it gave me a reason to really consider the song properly. The orchestration is brilliant – I’m constantly drawn to the strings that swoop and fall giving this intimate song a much larger scope. The lyrics are amazing too. They define the indefinable! Jim’s Kermit is one of the cornerstones of the Muppet Empire and this performance is their defining moment.
2 – Let Me Be Your Song – Number Twos Chart
This is such an incredible song! The extended intro is just sublime. I had a really tough time choosing between this and the song below because both of them speak to me, both musically and emotionally. Jim Henson didn’t do a huge amount of performing on Fraggle Rock, but his two main characters, Cantus and Convincing John, are surely the best-loved of all the “recurring” cast. Both of them stuck with me as Fraggle Rock went from current kids’ favorite to fondly remembered awesomeness. This song’s philosophy (and that of Cantus in general) chimes greatly with me. Along with the piece below it feels like someone went into my head took out my thoughts and explained them better than I ever could.
1 – I’m Going to Go Back There Someday – Dave Goelz Chart
This is the most decorated song I’ve ever written about; including its position here it has been number one three times and number 2 once! Bearing this in mind, there’s probably not much I can say about this song that hasn’t been said several times already, but I will concur with my earlier sentiment that this song just takes all of my feelings about this world and my part in it and puts them into words. In fact several years ago when I wrote some song lyrics (I’m an award-winning lyricist don’t you know!) I borrowed the phrase “invisible strings” as an homage to this incredible piece of music. Dave is incredible here. If you only ever play one piece of music to a non-Muppet fan to try and convert them this should be it. He conveys such emotion that I truly feel it’s impossible not to be touched by this song. Incidentally, if you play them a second song make it “Coconut” from “The Muppet Show”!
So there we are – my definitive list, preserved for all time! To conclude I thought it would be fun to end with a few quick statistics:
- Of these 50 songs above 27 feature core Muppet characters (Kermit & Co.), 12 are by Sesame Street characters, 7 are Fraggle Rock songs and 4 come from other sources.
- 40 songs feature a male character or singer in some kind of lead role and exactly half (20) feature a female character or singer.
- Kermit appears in 8 songs, Floyd appears in 6. Miss Piggy is the number 1 female with 3 appearances. Wembley is the top Fraggle with 2 spots (I haven’t counted Junior Gorg, Red or Mokey in “Children of Tomorrow” as I consider them “chorus” otherwise they all tie). For Sesame Street Snuffy and Ernie are tied on 2 each.
- Of the Muppet performers Jim Henson wins with 11 appearances, Jerry Nelson is second with 10. Steve Whitmire (9), Dave Goelz (7) and Bill Barretta (7) complete the top 5. Next up are Richard Hunt and Frank Oz with 6 each and then Matt Vogel and Louise Gold (our top female performer) share the next spot with 4 songs apiece.
- There are 9 songs from movies, 4 songs with numbers in the title, 4 songs with “Song” in the title, 3 songs with “World” in the title, 2 alphabet songs, 2 Christmas songs, 1 Oscar winner and 1 song sung by an Oscar.
Finally I have to say a quick thanks to all of the readers of my charts. I genuinely wouldn’t be here without you. Your continued support and kind comments really do mean a heck of a lot. Thank You!