Kieran Moore – Over the last 8 weeks it feels like I’ve often started these animal charts by saying something along the lines of “Wow, there really are a lot of Muppet bears/horses/chickens/birds” and now I’m slightly concerned that I may have peaked too early as there really are a heck of a lot of Muppet pigs and, by virtue of that fact, Muppet pig songs. This category has truthfully given me the largest number of songs to choose from for any one particular animal.
Of course with famous Muppet pigs such as Miss Piggy, Link Hogthrob and The Oinker Sisters around it’s easy to see why but they are just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to Muppets there are pigs everywhere! It’s a crowded field, but this chart, in my humble opinion (as ever) really does represent the best of the best. So let’s let a few Muppet pigs “hog” the spotlight and get on with it!
10 – Cuanto Le Gusta – The Muppet Show
Song 10 was almost “The Happy Wanderer”, but having just spoken with Miss Piggy’s lawyers I am now contractually obliged to start this chart with a number that features the divine Miss P. It was either that or I had to be sponsored by Piggy Water… Bearing that in mind I couldn’t think of a better number to play than one where she gets hysterically upstaged by a trumpet player and then dropped by her fellow cast members! This Latin number (or “Pig Latin” as Statler and Waldorf term it) is a whole heap of fun. Muppet pigs really get around. You’ll see as we travel through this chart that on The Muppet Show they were real globetrotters. Ha! Globe*trotters*! I made an unintentional pun! Yay me!
9 – Boom Shakalaka – Muppet Treasure Island
Muppet Treasure Island hasn’t had enough love on my charts. In fact I’d have to check, but this might be the movie’s first ever entry. I find that a bit sad if true as I love the songs from this film. We all know that Miss Piggy “knows how to make an entrance” and this must be her grandest. It’s certainly one of my favorites. I love how the music builds and swells and the rhythm of the words changes part way through to emphasize the urgency. The orchestral score and choir make it feel like a piece from “The African Queen” or some other cinematic epic. There’s so much to look at too from Gonzo forgetting his peril and enjoying the number to Rizzo desperately trying to get free. There’s also another rat cruise joke and a whacking great elephant. What more could you want? This is seriously impressive.
8 – I Love Being a Pig – Sesame Street
This is the closest we’re going to get to real pigs in this chart (which I suppose is actually quite close). This simple song was written by Joe Raposo and is sung in a great bass voice (which I sadly know not the possessor of [Why have I turned into Yoda?]). As a tenor myself I’m always a little envious of those that can sing down low and still make it sound good. The clips of pigs doing what pigs do (face peels and water-boarding according to “The Muppets” 2015) seem very familiar to those of us who grew up in the countryside, but for some kids this may very well have been their introduction to the real thing. That’s quite a thought when you think about it.
7 – Hawaiian War Chant – The Muppet Show
See, I told you Muppet pigs get around! This is our second Muppet Show opening number performed by a group of pigs. It’s a genre with so many examples that it even has its own Muppet Wiki entry! I’ve always loved the Hawaiian language and have learnt a few songs in it. I think it sounds really romantic when sung. Perhaps this isn’t the best example of that, but either way it sounds great. This song has a bit of everything that makes The Muppet Show so good; a great mix of characters, some onscreen fun, brilliant music, fantastic visuals and, of course, penguins! It’s impossible to stay still while this number is playing. This was number seven on my “USA Road Trip” chart so I’m sad to see that it hasn’t climbed higher, but at least I’m consistent!
6 – Stand by Your Can – Sesame Street
For a while in the late 80s and early 90s the environment was a hot topic and it seemed like the entertainment business was keen to do everything they could to get involved. Some of their output was not so good (I’m looking at you “Captain Planet”), some of it was pretty good like “The Earth Day Special” and some of it was very good like this song. In fact this is just about perfect. Hammy Swinette singing “Stand by Your Can” is pun perfection. It genuinely floors me that someone could come up with something so brilliant. Ivy Austin is also perfection as Tammy’s singing voice, while the ever-dependable David Rudman is supplying her actions and speaking voice. If every environmental message was delivered as well as this we might not all be doomed…
5 – Carbon Paper – The Muppet Show
This is another case of Annie Sue getting the upper hand (er, trotter) on Miss Piggy as although we’ll see both again this is the only solo song from either one. I should say that it’s not because Piggy’s solos aren’t brilliant, it was really just that they didn’t seem to fit. There wasn’t anything particularly pig-based and if you start looking further afield then this could have easily become Miss Piggy’s unofficial top 10. With Annie Sue things are slightly different as her singing roles are much less prolific. Including her here felt less out of place, despite the song not being piggish. I hope that make sense! This is clearly one of Jim Henson’s favorite songs as the Muppets have used it multiple times – I can’t decide whether Annie Sue as a young pig is the perfect fit for the lyrics or not, but it certainly suits her demeanour.
4 – The Pig Got Up and Slowly Walked Away – The Muppet Show
This song was number 10 on my Fozzie Bear chart earlier this year and I just couldn’t resist using it again. The idea of lying in the street with a pig makes me think of “Pirates of the Caribbean”. I know the idea of Muppets invading classic Disney attractions was mooted and then quietly put away when it all went the shape of Fozzie’s nose back in the 90’s, but I’d love to see that idea come back. We get a seasonal overlay of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” on “The Haunted Mansion” so why not a seasonal “Muppet Treasure Island” do-over of “Pirates…”? Rowlf could be the dog with the keys, but instead of holding them in his mouth he could be jangling them just out of reach and making jail puns. Rizzo and Gonzo would serve as narrators and there’d be cruising rats added to each set piece sitting at tables watching the action unfold. We can have Blind Pew, Clueless Morgan, Polly Lobster and Angel Marie back and there has to be a “Cabin Fever” moment. Perhaps on the ship firing cannonballs? I can see it now!
3 – Stayin’ Alive – The Muppet Show
This is absolutely one of my favorite pig numbers from The Muppet Show. Partially I guess because this is actually one of my favorite songs, period. I keep jokingly suggesting it to my a cappella group in the hope that someone agrees, but so far no dice. The idea of setting this song in the French revolution with Piggy as Marie Antoinette is genius. I’d like top meet the person who came up with it and shake their hand or buy them a donut (or a condo). You can see the increased budget the show was getting onscreen here as the set is detailed and visually compelling. All of your favorite Muppet Show performers get something to do and there isn’t a weak link amongst them. I particularly like the moment when the music gets extra funky at the 1:23 mark. I could listen to that all day on a very short loop. Disco and Muppets don’t always mix, but this is an example of how it should be done.
2 – This Little Piggy – Sesame Street
This might be the most pig-centric song on the list and as I listen to it I can’t believe that it isn’t number one. It’s right up my (sesame) street. I love Gospel music and I can’t understand people who don’t. You might not agree with the lyrics, but you certainly can’t dispute how phenomenal it is musically. Thankfully, in this particular piece you don’t have to worry about disagreeing with the words (unless you’re opposed to going to market, staying home, eating roast beef, having none or weeing in the street of course). Ivy Austin is brilliantly back again as Sooey Oinker. On the audio version she’s joined by Tawatha Agee and Angela Capelli so I’m going to assume it’s the same here. Interestingly enough (depending on how you define interesting) Tawatha was a Muse in “Hercules” along with Lillias White so there’s one for all you trivia buffs. I’ve run out of space now, but this song is glorious and that’s all you need to know!
1 – Pig Calypso – The Muppet Show
This was really the obvious choice for number one. It’s an iconic moment and a fabulously funny song. It’s also a rare example of a song that specifically written for the show so it gets extra marks for that. As much as this is billed as the “Pig” calypso it’s really Kermit who steals the show with the final verse where he gets “his say”. I guess in a lot of ways this song is like a bottled version of Kermit and Piggy’s relationship from the old Muppet Show days. She’s busy telling the world how in love they are and he comes along with a reality check only to be dealt with most severely via a knockout blow. I rarely post anything negative about number one songs, but if I had one criticism it would be the canned laughter that is completely unnecessary. It’s not so bad when it comes after a joke lyric, but do we really need to be told that Annie Sue in shades is funny? Anyway, this is classic Muppet Show and rightly deserves its place here at the top.
I suppose thanks to Miss Piggy, Muppet pigs are a permanent fixture within the gang, but it’s a group that gets bigger with every new production and I for one am very pleased about that. In fact its latest member, Alinda from “The Muppets” (2015) is probably one of my favorites. If only she’d sung… I’ve touched on this before and as this series nears its end (only one more to go) I’ll mention it again as it might be my last chance – I think Henson animals, when played for laughs, fall into two camps – either random and out there like penguins or super familiar like chickens and pigs. The comedy comes from seeing something we know well act against type. Having a pig dance to a calypso or sing a disco number is plain funny whether it’s lavishly produced by some of the best comedy performers ever to grace the screen or not. I guess I need to thank Muppet pigs for giving us stand out performances and memorable characters. Without you the Muppet-verse truly wouldn’t be the same. Thank You.