Kieran Moore – Up until today, if you’d asked me which Muppet I’m most like I probably would have replied Scooter, as I think I look like a bit like him and always try to be helpful. On the other hand, my family say I have Kermit’s demeanour; however it seems we’re all incorrect…
Much has been written about Cookie Monster’s personality so I thought as part of my research for today’s chart I’d have a look online to find out more. It turns out Cookie Monster is an “Advocate” with a personality type INFJ-T (which stands for Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging, Turbulent).
The website I used to learn this particular fact was, of course, offering to tell me my personality type if I filled in a short questionnaire so I clicked away like the good little internet drone I am. Imagine my surprise when I found out my personality is almost identical to Cookie Monster’s! I’m INFJ-A which means I’m more assertive, but otherwise Cookie Monster and I are brothers from another mother! Anyway, all this is my very longwinded way of saying today we’re going to be examining the personality of Cookie Monster according to his top 10 musical performances. Enjoy!
10 – Breakfast Time – Sesame Street
I considered this vintage Sesame Street clip for my recent Ernie chart, but decided that Cookie Monster was really the driving force in this piece so it lost out there and won here instead. It’ll come as no surprise, despite all my talk of Cookie Monster’s various personality traits, that the vast majority of the songs in this week’s charts have at least a passing reference to Cookie Monster’s defining love – jigsaw puzzles (oh, alright it’s cookies). This song dates back to 1977 (making it a mighty 40 years old) and it’s interesting that even back then, the theme of whether Cookie Monster only eats cookies or likes a selection of foods was enough of a topic for a song to be written. In this number he ultimately opts to try eating a frying pan which is probably different from how this song would conclude if written now. I love the format of this where two counterpoint tunes come together. Bravo!
9 – Me Going to Munch You, Munch You, Munch You – Sesame Street
Back in the day, Cookie Monster loved to parody the music of the dancehalls and performed several fun Disco-inspired numbers; this smooth, sultry soul track is easily my favorite from this period. It’s probably the ridiculousness of Cookie Monster doing an impression of Barry White, or maybe the idea that he’s letting a poor defenceless cookie know what it’s in for that makes this so good for me – either that or the hilarious beard and moustache combo… While we’re looking at Cookie Monster’s personality, it would be remiss of me not to mention the original intentions of the song this is parodying “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More, Babe” and draw some parallels between what Barry means there and what Cookie does here. I’m not planning to get weird or anything, but this song is obviously about being passionate – regardless of what the object of your obsession is. Cookie Monster is all about the feels and this song shows just how emotionally expressive he is.
8 – Up and Down – Sesame Street
Although this song originated during Sesame Street’s first season, Cookie Monster and Herry didn’t get their hands on it until the following year when they performed to the audio of a previous version. This explains why Jim Henson is singing as Herry instead of Jerry Nelson who was his regular performer. I feel a bit sacrilegious saying it, but I’m not sure if it had been Jerry in this song it would have made the top 10. That’s not because I think he couldn’t have sung it – my love for Mr. Nelson is well documented, but for me this song really suits Jim’s voice and he does a phenomenal job – particularly with those incredible blues notes at the end. There’s a Rowlf vibe here that is all Jim. This song is a jazzy number that’s exactly the kind of thing I hear in my head when I think of cheesy variety or game shows from this period. Make sure you watch to the end or you’ll miss one of the funniest sketch endings, ever!
7 – Me Love Cookie Art – The Cookie Thief
I suppose in some ways this feels like “the little song that could” in this chart. Against some classic Cookie Monster songs it doesn’t necessarily stand out like flashy sparkles on the water, but it is cool and friendly-like and I can’t resist it. There are several things this song has going for it such as a great sing along chorus, fun cookie art puns and neat parody pieces like the girl with the cookie earring. I think this song’s biggest selling point though is Fran Brill in one of her last appearances as Prairie Dawn. In this age of Abby, Zoe and Rosita I often feel Prairie Dawn gets sidelined, so I loved seeing her front and center here. It’s no surprise that Cookie Monster enjoys an art gallery – according to his personality type he is sensitive to visual stimulation and enjoys looking for hidden meanings. So now you know…
6 – If Me Had That Magic Wand – Sesame Street
This song is a beautiful character moment for Cookie Monster as he sings of his hopes and dreams – if only he had that magic wand. This was written intentionally to be Cookie Monster’s version of the “I Want” song that is so prevalent in Broadway and Disney musicals. Forget wanting to be part of your world, Cookie Monster wants to rule his very own! This song is sadly very short, but it’s full of style (sounding like a cross between “Changes” by Ozzy & Kelly Osbourne and the soundtrack to a Peanuts special). It’s the visuals that really attract me to this song though. Putting Cookie Monster in a virtual world and shooting it with wide sweeping camera movements creates a lush three-dimensional vista for him to inhabit. The intuitive part of Cookie Monster’s personality makes him naturally imaginative and this song and the next one are the two biggest examples of that on today’s list…
5 – If Moon Was Cookie – Sesame Street
For me, this song feels like the spiritual cousin of “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon”. Both feature a beloved character singing a lullaby about visiting our lunar cousin, but deciding that actually they’re better off where they are. I love that Sesame Street tells kids it’s ok to dream, but it’s also alright to be happy as you are. That’s a really neat message. It’s suddenly occurred to me as I write about song number five that I’ve gotten all this way without mentioning Frank Oz! Cookie Monster went through several variations between his creation in the mid 1960’s and what we have today, but Frank was there right back at the start of Sesame Street, turning him into the monster he soon became. Cookie Monster’s gruff vocals are very different from some of Frank’s other signature characters, yet there’s no denying it’s him under the fur. For all my talk of Cookie Monster’s personality, without Frank and the show’s creators, including Jeff Moss, there’s a very real chance I wouldn’t be writing this now. They really cemented who Cookie Monster was and made him the icon he is today.
4 – Share it Maybe – Sesame Street Viral Video
Speaking of Cookie Monster being an icon today – this song ushered in another huge era for our favorite fudge finger fan. To date this video has had over 21 million views on the official Sesame Street channel and that number is growing all the time. The attention this clip brought Cookie Monster put him in the limelight once again and he’s now a regular player in YouTube videos, parodies, commercials, TV appearances and (bizarrely) siri answers! He easily rivals Elmo and Big Bird now as the most famous Sesame Street character. Of course it takes a village, but I really do feel that it’s because of David Rudman that Cookie Monster is so huge at the moment. Along with Eric Jacobson and Matt Vogel, David has had massive success taking over for retired performers. All three of these guys haven’t just been content to continue their characters in impression form, but instead have given them new dimensions. Dare I say it, for many of these recasts I actually prefer the characters now to their previous incarnations.
3 – Healthy Food – Sesame Street
There is, of course, only so far we can get talking about Cookie Monster before we have to address the “Veggie Monster” controversy. In the mid-2000’s it began being reported that Cookie Monster was handing in his Girl Scout Loyalty Card, going on a diet and eating only fruit and vegetables from now on. The bottom half of the internet went apoplectic stating that this was going to ruin childhoods forever and that “Johnny Hanson” would be spinning in his cryogenic chamber. While this was going on, us Muppet fans (who are known for being thoroughly well-balanced like Cookie Monster’s diet) pointed to songs like Healthy Food, which was 20 years old by this point, and tried to explain that Cookie Monster has always been concerned with nutrition and health conscious food choices. Sadly our voices were like a gnat’s fart in an internet hurricane so the big, blue one himself had to step in and put the record straight…
2 – Me Am What Me Am – Sesame Street
This song debuted in 2011 in a Sesame episode where the street story centered around Cookie Monster constantly being referred to as “Veggie Monster”. Eventually having had enough, Cookie Monster sings this life-affirming song stating that even though he likes peapods and green beans, he is absolutely still the Cookie Monster we know and love. Just because he likes a range of foods, it doesn’t change who he is. Apart from referencing the controversy around the character, it’s also a cool way to let kids know that one aspect of who they are doesn’t have to define them. This is one of my favorite Sesame Street parody songs. It’s spot on and very cleverly done. David sounds amazing and puts his heart and soul into his performance. This is most definitely one of Cookie Monster’s most moving moments. Unless there’s some trickery going on here, I think this was filmed in one continuous take and that blows my mind!
1 – C is for Cookie – Sesame Street
Sometimes on my top 10 lists I get to dig up an unexpected and unusual gem for the number one song and sometimes there’s a track that’s so well known and iconic it just can’t be beat! This is definitely a case of the latter. It would be almost unthinkable not have this at the top of the chart. It’s so intrinsically linked with Cookie Monster. In fact, I can’t think of a single Muppet from any franchise that is so connected to just one song. Maybe Cantus and “Let Me Be Your Song”… I guess you could also say Ernie with “Rubber Duckie”, but I still don’t think either is on the same level as this. You could even go as far as to say the popularity of this song is behind some of the hysteria that surrounded the whole “Veggie Monster” debacle. Frank Oz sounds extra gruff here and it really works. It makes Cookie Monster sound super excited when he exclaims “Whoa” towards the end of the chorus. This rousing anthem has been featured on no less than 27 Sesame Street audio releases (in varying guises). It’s a phenomenon and a cultural touchstone that defines an era whilst linking the generations.
As I come to the end of this list, I still don’t really feel like Cookie Monster and I are a natural fit and yet as I’ve written about these songs and considered him in detail I guess I am starting to see a few similarities. We’re both sensitive and expressive beings that like order and time alone. We’re also thinkers who are sensitive to external forces. I’m perhaps just a little calmer… Cookie Monster is a guy we can all learn from – his big heart and dedication are lessons we can all bring in to our daily lives. I must give a huge Thank You to Cookie Monster and all those who contributed to today’s songs – you’ve really given me food for thought. Speaking of which, I think it’s time for a snack – chocolate chip or oatmeal?