Today is the final day of Fan Week. Thanks to everyone who submitted art, songs, and miscellaneous stuff. Sorry to anyone we didn’t get to feature.
This week’s Top 10 list includes it’s usual banner, this time made by Muppet fan and our pal Leah.
Kieran Moore – When Jarrod (our Great and Bountiful Leader) told me a few weeks ago about “Fan Week” here at The Muppet Mindset I was only too happy to get involved. You see, for ages I’ve been thinking of compiling a chart made up of Muppet covers and this gave me the perfect excuse.
It was a daunting task though as there are lots and lots (and lots) of great covers online and they run the whole gamut of Muppet fandom. To make things easier I set myself a few basic rules.
- Only original Muppet songs were eligible – if you covered “Mahna Mahna” or “Happy Feet” (even in the style of the Muppets) you were out of luck.
- Each song could only appear once – there are a ton of covers of songs like “Rainbow Connection” around, but I wanted to represent a bit of everything and it seemed unfair to rank fans against each other.
- Songs must be from fans doing what they do for the love of the art form – covers from official sources such as “The Green Album” are not included.
- Songs needed to include words – there are some exceptional instrumental covers, particularly those played on piano, but my charts are primarily for songs and I have to save something for next year!
Please, please, please support your fellow Muppet fans and listen to each song. Some of these videos are more professionally produced than others, but I can guarantee that hours of work will have gone into every single one. Some have had thousands of views and some less than 10 (at time of writing) so I hope you get behind them all and share any that you especially like. As this site has proved all week, just because something is fan produced doesn’t mean it’s lacking. With that in mind, let’s get on with the countdown…
10 – Pinball Number Count – Tyler Kealey
Speaking of countdowns, I can’t think of a better song to start this list with. When I set about trawling the internet for Muppet cover songs this is not a song I expected to find and yet I’m so glad I did. I throw the word “brilliant” around a lot on these charts, but this is genuinely brilliant. It’s a virtuoso performance from Tyler and I’m captivated as I watch his fingers dart about his keyboard. I’m also captivated by the fun video which is perfectly Sesame Street-esque with its rolling ball motif, stop frame animation and live action kids. It really feels as though someone has plucked vintage Sesame Street out of my brain and reconstructed it in music form. This feels like a true labor of love. Tyler’s YouTube profile lists him simply as a singer/songwriter from Ottawa, but that simplistic description doesn’t do his song writing skills justice. Check out his originals and give your ears a treat.
9 – Muppet Babies Theme – Scott Bradley (Saturday Morning Slow Jams
How cool is this? I’m not an enormous fan of jazz so I can’t believe that I’ve started this chart with two jazz numbers, but this is just so slick I can’t ignore it. The idea of covering this song in such a way is sublime. It’s genius! This is the perfect summer tune and ideal for lazing in the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon. A great poet once wrote “smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy” and I think he had this in mind at the time. All of the musicians are quite obviously phenomenal, but I must praise POWGRL! A.K.A. Karen Marie in particular for her impressive vocal. Her runs are superb and the jazz/soul tone of her voice is wonderfully old school. There are 12 Saturday Morning Slow Jams to enjoy covering everything from “Darkwing Duck” to “My Little Pony” and I heartily recommend them all.
8 – Fraggle Rock Theme – The Student Loan
There are plenty of cover versions of this song on YouTube including a fun a cappella one and a really neat bongo cover that makes me very happy indeed, but ultimately I just had to pick this. The Student Loan are part of the “Newgrass” sub-genre of Bluegrass music that is right up my alley. Regular readers will know I credit the Muppets for my love of down-home music and the idea of taking songs from other genres and playing them in that style is really appealing to me. It’s a bit like what I do with my a cappella group. Another reason I really like this is that it honors the original whilst still mixing it up. This is a very good approximation of the extended version of the Fraggle Rock Theme (the one with Junior Gorg dum, dum, dumming) and you can tell that they haven’t just watched the opening of the show online and copied it. Finally, the credit to Blundig Fraggle makes my heart sing.
7 – Bless Us All – Jarom Petrich
First of all, how cool is the name Jarom Petrich? It sounds like a Muppet from an international Sesame Street production. Someone in the comments for this song mentioned that they thought Jarom sounds like John Denver in this song and they are absolutely right. This rendition sounds like it could have been a bonus track from the album “A Christmas Together” and I’m sure if produced today this song would have been included. A John Denver/Robin duet would be out of this world. I love John’s reverent vocals and I feel that Jarom brings the same quality to this. It’s a pure expression of the season. I also really like that he mentions that this song is his Mom’s favorite and is dedicated to her. That’s the good kind of sweet. Everything about this video and song is classy – even down to the shirt and tie. Pure and classy – it’s the perfect Muppet Christmas cover.
6 – Just a Dream Away – Scott Stutzman
I’m not sure if it still exists because I can’t find it online, but there used to be a cover of “Dixie Wailin’” on YouTube where the singer mentions that Jim Henson writes the best songs about death. In the comments someone rightly (if a little churlishly) mentions that Jim didn’t write “Dixie Wailin’”, and he didn’t write this either, but the point still kind of stands. Henson productions are not afraid of dealing with death and Fraggle Rock in particular discussed the life cycle quite often. This fairly obscure Fraggle song was originally sung by Mudwell the Mudbunny and talks about his beliefs regarding life and death. It’s incredibly poignant. Scott Stutzman (apart from sounding like a Ghostbuster) recorded this song as part of a Fraggle Rock EP and I heartily recommend you listen to his version of “Moon Lullaby”. It’s only my preference for this particular song that stopped that appearing instead. Please, please, please go have a listen.
5 – Rainbow Connection – Joseph Schoedel (thekermitchannel)
There are videos online of Muppet impressionists singing everything from “Let it Go” to “The Girl from Ipanema” (probably), but this one stands out because Joseph’s impersonations (Kermit in particular) are so good. And his Kermit really should be pretty spot on. After all, as the voice behind thekermitchannel he’s had a lot of practice. His channel is crammed full of duets sung between “Kermit” and people from all over the globe recorded using smule. For those of you who don’t know what smule is, it’s like a world wide karaoke where users can get together to record songs and upload them. Get with it, Grandpa! Check out thekermitchannel for some of the most bizarre (in a good way) Muppet stuff you’ll ever see and maybe have a go yourself! Joseph is happy to collaborate… I particularly like the way this captures the mood of “The Muppets” (2011) and our next song does the same…
4 – Pictures in My Head – Spencer Cohen
This simple ukulele interpretation of one of my favorite Muppet songs is pitch perfect. It’s sweet and simple and feels just right for the sentiment of the song itself. Pictures in My Head is a very special song to me. Earlier this year I took part in a singing workshop and we were asked to recite lyrics to a song that made us feel particularly emotional – this was the song I picked. Spencer puts just the right amount of “feels” in this – the lyrics are suitably heavy, yet it has the light touch that a ukulele song demands. I’ve often sung to rooms much smaller than this, but there’s something incredibly special about an acoustic performance in an intimate venue. It’s music how it was meant to be heard. And I can tell you – it ain’t easy. There’s nothing here to hide behind – not that Spencer would need it. Check out his other videos and marvel at his singing talent!
3 – I Don’t Want To Live on the Moon – Okay Samurai
This video is so well done I had to check it wasn’t an official cover, but other than Sesame Street tweeting about it I can’t find anything so it made it in. This is incredible and perhaps unusually for a fan cover is as much about the video as the song itself. Don’t just listen to this – you must watch it also. Your eyes will thank you. Okay Samurai is the umbrella name for the various artistic endeavours of Dave Werner. Dave has (unsurprisingly) a history in animation and art & design and has a very impressive portfolio online. Check out his Extraneous Lyrics videos – they are a ton of fun! There’s a raw emotion to this performance that combined with the video make it incredibly affecting. I just can’t say enough great things about this. It’s like a “Where’s Waldo?” of childhood friends. I guarantee you’ll watch this more than once. After that be sure to watch the “making of” video to see how it was all done.
2 – Bring Back the Wonder – Solar Kitchen
This is also very professionally done, but that’s not the reason it’s ranked so highly – this is after all fan week so that’s just a bonus. I guess you could see this as the final chapter in a trilogy of songs that started with Spencer in position four. All three are fantastic. I’ve mentioned before that the sign of a good song from a movie/T.V. show/musical is one that can be removed from its original source and made to fit in the wider world. This takes a pretty obscure Red Fraggle ballad and makes it the chart hit it deserves to be. This soars and flies and just gets me every time. It makes me think of Red and how sad she is when she sings this. A lonely Red Fraggle is enough to hurt my soul at the best of times without this song adding to it! It’s soft and sweet and then builds to a beautiful crescendo. When this number swells, so does my heart. I would genuinely rank this song with something like “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday”. I think there are some real similarities. This is part of an album covers put together by Lior Seker and it’s available for free download on his bandcamp page. Go on, treat yourself…
1 – Dixie Wailin’ – The Skeptics
Ok, so professional courtesy should have prevented me from putting myself at number one, but it’s my chart so why not? My group, The Skeptics, first learnt Dixie Wailin’ for an event we were singing at where the theme was children’s songs. I must say a funeral dirge was not what they were expecting! We cover two Henson songs – this and “Ladybugs’ Picnic”, but I’m always trying to surreptitiously insert more Muppet music into our repertoire. Just don’t tell the guys! This was recorded in early 2016 and was mixed and mastered to sound like it’s being sung in church (as befits a funeral). I’m taking the lead, so you can blame me if you don’t like it. To that end I guess I should give a quick shout out to Andy and “Badger”, my partners in crime. Having written about my singing efforts for the past 18 months I’m pleased to finally get the chance to let you all hear something!
It would seem a bit over the top to write a paragraph praising the artists in this chart when I’m one of them, so instead I’ll quickly add a reminder to listen to everyone’s songs and then tell you about my favorite piece of fan art.
As some of you know, my younger sister passed away 5 years ago. She was an art student at the time and by some quirk of fate the last piece she ever produced was a portrait of Kermit the Frog in the style of Picasso. She finished it the day before she died and it was enough to posthumously gain her the qualification she was working towards. As you can imagine it’s a piece that’s incredibly important to me and Jarrod has graciously allowed me to include it here. So this week I’d like to thank him for giving me a platform to share not just this piece of work, or even my piece of work, but the work of every Muppet fan. The Muppet Mindset is an incredible resource for us fans to have, so Thank You Jarrod (and a certain Ryan Dosier – what happened to him?) for all your hard work. You’re truly the biggest fan of all.