The Top 10 Songs of: Frogs

The Top 10

Kieran Moore – a726f-frogsAs sure as night follows day and a second season of “The Muppets” follows the first, it was inevitable that a Muppet frog chart would happen eventually. Well folks, today is… eventually. Although he wasn’t identified as a frog until later, Kermit was around from the start of Jim’s career and as such frogs have played an integral role in Henson history. Kermit (and his cousins) have appeared in an overwhelming amount of Henson/Muppets output and that’s reflected in the quality of the work in this week’s chart.

Whether they’re green, blue or aquamarine and say “ribbit” “croak” or “yaaaaaaay!” frogs seem to be incredibly talented creatures. When I pick the songs for my charts I rank each contender out of 100 and every single song on this list scored in the 90s! In fact, only one possible contender dipped below 80 and I’d like to give that song a quick honourable mention – it’s “Fugue for Frog” from “The Muppet Show”. It appeared in episode 123 and is Floyd’s suggestion for a new theme tune. It’s a bit dismal and not nearly froggy enough for this chart, but it is awesome and worth a listen!

10 – Frog Talk – Billy Bunny’s Animal Songs
It’s no surprise really that Billy Bunny’s Animal Songs has featured more than once on my animal charts, but this is probably the song from that special I know best. Not just because it appears on the “It’s Not Easy Bein’ Green” sing along video, but also because it was featured on a Muppets trailer from around the same time. I’ve always liked this direct to video show. It’s bright and breezy, well written and performed, and fun for the whole family. Perfect Muppet entertainment! There’s a calypso feel to this song despite its slightly folksy opening. I love the frog humor almost as much as I love the bouncing Kermit that follows the lyrics!

9 – Mad About the Frog – The Muppet Show
Although this isn’t a Kermit chart per se, it’s going to be impossible to write it without featuring him heavily so I guess we might as well also discuss the elephant (er, pig) in the room that is Miss Piggy. She and Kermit have certainly had a tumultuous relationship over the years and yet they obviously care very deeply for each other. I’ve really enjoyed the new depths being given to Piggy since “The Muppets (2011)” and I like that she’s calling Kermit out on the fact that he blows hot and cold (he is after all an amphibian). If the early cancellation of “The Muppets (2015)” has done anything for Muppet fans it’s left us with a nice cliff hanger regarding Kermiggy’s status that the writers can exploit/ignore as they see fit. Regarding this number, Torch songs don’t get much torchier than this and Miss Piggy is at her most beautiful here.

8 – Frogs in the Glen – Sesame Street
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Scotland several times as my brother lived there for a while. It’s a wonderful place with gorgeous scenery that in winter looks like Narnia and in summer looks like Narnia the day it started to thaw… It also has deep-fried pizza, Irn-Bru and 24 hour bakeries that can make your arteries dry up from 50 paces. I love it! This song feels slightly mythical to me even though there’s nothing really to suggest that theme. There are several songs on this chart that with a word change or two could live outside of the Muppet canon and this is the first as its theme is fairly universal. Good point: Kathy Mullen. Bad point: fake bagpipes!

7 – Frog Kickin’ – Sesame Street
This song is as much fun to watch as it is to listen to. The wildlife photography on Sesame Street is always beautiful and I especially like the unusual angle here of seeing the frog from below with the sky above him. This is a segment that despite not being particularly flashy has the power to stay with a child all the way through to adulthood. This is in no small way down to Joe Raposo’s fantastic song writing skills and the “la di da” chorus. It’s a real earworm (in the best possible sense). I think kids really respond to songs sung by other kids so that also goes in its favour too. I can sum up this song in three words – “pickin’ and a-kickin’” – I think that just about covers it!

6 – Frog Kissin’ – The Muppet Show
From frog kickin’ to frog kissin’ – I hadn’t realised I’d put these two together until just now! Is there a more perfect song for Robin? Not only does this reference his not-so-humble beginnings as the star of “The Frog Prince”, it also feels right for an ironically humble frog like him to sing. This number is about looking beyond appearances and taking a chance on something or someone you might have otherwise overlooked. Somehow it’s both self-deprecating and celebrating oneself at the same time. Richard Hunt once again proves why he and Jerry Nelson work so well together thanks to some beautiful harmonies. This song and (coincidentally) “Mad About the Frog” both appeared on “The Muppet Show Music Album” in 1979 and I heartily recommend you buy a copy if you ever find one.

5 – Caribbean Amphibian – Sesame Street
Having spoken about earworms a few songs ago, it will probably take weeks of therapy to get “A frog in a coconut tree” out of my head! This song is incredibly catchy and impossible not to dance to. If you’re looking for Kermit’s fun side I really do rank this amongst his best. It’s every bit the equal of songs like “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” and “Happy Feet”. The only thing funnier than Kermit in clothes is Kermit in clothes and sunglasses (although both are possibly beaten by Kermit in clothes, sunglasses and an afro)! Kermit’s relaxed demeanour in this clip is a sure sign of an incredibly reassured performance by Jim Henson. He makes every last flipper motion seem like second nature. I like the simple, pastel shaded set – it really matches the laid-back feel of the song. There’s really nothing to criticize here. It’s perfect.

4 – I’m in Love with a Big, Blue Frog – The Muppet Show
This song ranks so highly because it’s hilarious. I don’t know what it is about frogs, but I do think they’re inherently funny. I wonder if that’s because of Kermit and the Muppets, or if (as the books states) frogs are funny. The weird croaking and “Children of the Corn” expressions from the frogs onstage tickles me and elevates this into something wonderful. Fran Brill is fantastic (we miss you, Fran) as Mary Louise and brings some great vocal energy to a very simple puppet. Finally, do I spy a little social commentary in the verse about the neighbors worrying about house prices going down if a big blue frog moves in next door? The origins of the song, a Peter, Paul and Mary track from 1967, would suggest yes…

3 – Knee Deep – The Muppets at Walt Disney World
If you’re looking for a song that really explains what being a frog is all about then you’ve come to the right place. Nothing beats this for froginess. There have been a lot of “down home” style songs in this chart, but this is the zenith of all that has gone before. It’s a musical genre that is particularly associated with Kermit and because this song is being sung by his family they really went all out to make it sound like it shaped his musical sensibilities. As such it’s the most “Kermit” song on this top 10. Most of Muppets at Walt Disney World is filmed on location and this is the only real Muppet set in the whole special. The production team really went to town with it and created a great swamp environment with real depth. It’s taken a lot to beat this, but the next two songs rose to the challenge…

2 – Froggy Went a-Courtin’ – The Muppets Valentine Show
This song is comedy gold. From the opening with Kermit trying to get everyone’s attention to the frogs at the end diving into the piano every moment is hilarious. I miss Miss Mousey as a secondary/tertiary character. I’m not sure where she fits in the current line up, but she was fun. Just a few days ago I watched the test footage on “The Muppet Movie” blu-ray where Miss Piggy talks about all the horrible things she did to her! It’s a fantastic piece of improvisation. There really aren’t enough superlative words to express how great this song is. The puppetry is amazing with Kermit on his bike and “Big Mouse” towering over proceedings. The sets as above are fully-realized and lend a nice storybook feel. Finally, the performances are a tour de force. Jim, Jerry and Richard are as good here as they ever were. Pieces like this make me so happy that they exist as a legacy to these wonderful men.

1 – This Frog – Sesame Street
This song has achieved something that I’m not sure ever happened before and scored a perfect 100! I’d have to check to see, but I know that “Dixie Wailin’” (one of my favorites) only scored 99 so there would be very little competition. This is such a special song and equally as anthemic and important to Kermit’s character as the better known “Rainbow Connection” or “Bein Green’”. It’s a real self-affirmation piece and is massively emotional. Both the lyrics and the music combine to create a rousing piece that is full of heart and soul. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger (a bit like a frog). It blows my mind that this song comes from the same show as “Ladybugs’ Picnic”. Talk about diversity. This is another song that could (and deserves to) live outside of its original context. It’s an amazing song with an equally amazing message. What more can I say?

Kermit has appeared in one form or another in seven of the songs on this chart (and been the subject of another).It really wasn’t my intention to feature him so heavily (sorry Bill, Gil and Jill – your time will come), but as I should really have expected – you can’t talk about Muppets and frogs without focusing on Kermit. I think this chart has proved though, Kermit or otherwise, the Muppets really do love a frog. And so do I. Friends and family who know I like Muppets regularly buy me frog stuff (I guess this is common amongst us Mupp-o-philes) so I have a small collection of frog related stuff that’s ever-expanding (a bit like that frog). There really is something about frogs. Jim knew it, we know it and Miss Piggy knows it. So I have to say thank you to all Muppet frogs. Without you there might be no Muppets left at all. Thank you for “bein green” and thank you for letting us know it’s beautiful. Thank You.

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