Kieran Moore – As I sit down to write this special chart about Miss Piggy I find myself with a slightly heavy heart. You see, this week The Muppet Mindset and ToughPigs introduced Miss Piggy Day in honor of her birthday – which is wonderful, but my birthday was just over one week ago and I’m a little sad we aren’t (what’s the sibling version of “Brothers from another mother”? Siblings from another mibling…?) Anyway, it’s a shame we don’t share a birthday is my point. I do have the same birthday as The Amazing Mumford, so it’s not all doom and gloom!
What occurs to me about Miss Piggy’s birthday being this week though is that it makes her a Gemini, which is fitting as it implies a split personality. You don’t need to have majored in Muppet Studies to know that Miss Piggy might have a teensy-tiny tendency to blow hot and cold. She can go from lava to lovely in a matter of seconds! And yet you can’t deny there’s something irresistible-ish about her. Shall we find out why…?
Obviously somebody with a, how shall I put it, talent(?) as large as Miss Piggy’s couldn’t be contained by just 10 songs so I’ve specially widened this article to include an extra 10. Here for your delectation are the tracks that almost made it…
20 – Heatwave – The Muppets Go to the Movies
19 – La Vie Aerobique – Miss Piggy’s Aerobique Exercise Workout Album
18 – Waiting at the Church – The Muppet Show
17 – Pig Calypso – The Muppet Show
16 – Christmas Queen – A Green and Red Christmas
15 – Help Me Make it Through the Night – The Muppet Show
14 – You Light Up My Life – The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show
13 – Tumbling Tumbleweeds – Rocky Mountain Holiday
12 – One Note Samba – The Muppet Show
11 – Cuanto Le Gusta – The Muppet Show
Anyway, I’d better get on with it before Piggy accuses me of waffling and The Swedish Chef shows up…
10 – What Now My Love? – The Muppet Show
You’re going to hear the word iconic used an awful lot throughout this chart and it’s because every wonderful thing Miss Piggy does instantly becomes part of the very fabric of pop culture as we know it. (P.S. any complaints that Miss Piggy has vetted this article before it was published should be sent to me courtesy of Marty the Agent). This number truly is iconic though. It’s an incredibly powerful torch song that in some ways feels like the manifesto for Kermit and Piggy’s relationship in the first season. I think that’s why people remember it so fondly. Kermit and Piggy’s partnership truly is iconic and anything connected to it is as well by association. We’ll discuss Frank Oz in depth later, but his vocals here are off the chart (well actually they’re number 10, but, oh never mind…)
9 – He’ll Make Me Happy – The Muppets Take Manhattan
This song bobbed around in the top 10 for a while. You see, I absolutely love it and think it’s a sweet and beautiful love song that I know Muppet fans have taken to their hearts (and I’m no exception), but with so much material to choose from I had to take into account the fact that Piggy sings very little here. There is at least one other very well known song that I’ll probably get asked about that didn’t make the list for a similar reason. Miss Piggy has had a varied singing career when it comes to movies (in terms of how much she gets to do), but Muppets Take Manhattan is one of her better showings. Throughout the movie she gets to play a whole range of emotions (even more than in The Great Muppet Caper), and here she’s charming and tender and a million miles away from the bold, brassy Pig we often see. The question of whether Kermit and Piggy are married might never be resolved, but we can all agree this is the best Muppet wedding song.
8 – I’m Gonna Always Love You – The Muppets Take Manhattan
By a strange quirk of fate we’re going straight from one Muppets Take Manhattan song to another, though they really are very different. As a kid watching this movie, I found this song and sequence one of the most interesting. It was fun to me to see my favorite characters as babies and although I was older than they are here it wasn’t a huge leap to imagine them as the same age as me at the time. With international release dates and a middle-aged memory, I can’t remember whether I saw this film before Muppet Babies or after, but either way I was a huge fan of this concept and its cartoon series – and still am. This song with its 1950s Doo-Wap style ties in nicely with the Muppet Babies theme and provides some consistency between the two making them feel like a single idea rather than a hastily put together tie-in. All the performers are great fun as their younger counterparts, but Frank is particularly good in the lead role.
7 – On a Slow boat to China – The Muppet Show
I’m not a huge fan of James Bond, but I did (and do) appreciate the way Roger Moore played the role. Consequently his appearance on The Muppet Show is a highlight for me. Roger has some fantastic comedy chops and his dry wit fits in so well with the wackier Muppet hijinks they subject him to. There are plenty of examples of Miss Piggy throwing herself at The Muppet Show’s male guests, but this for me is the high point of all of those. She’s really vamping it up here and using every feminine charm she has in her arsenal. I sometimes feel the joke of Miss Piggy being a pig who wants to be glamorous and sexy is a bit overdone, but here it’s just right. Frank is a tour de force in this scene. He excels at improvisational comedy and is quick-witted and sharp as a pin. This comes to the fore whenever Miss Piggy gets to interact on a one to one basis with a guest star.
6 – The Entertainer – The Muppet Show
|This is the perfect song to continue my praise of Frank Oz. In fact, way back when, this was the number one song on my Frank Oz chart! It perfectly encapsulates what makes Frank and Piggy such a joy to watch. Both are consummate professionals (which I think makes them some kind of French soup). They have an innate ability to know just what the crowd wants and then deliver it. This song and the talents of both of its lead performances are an incredible combination of synchronicity. If Sam Eagle was discussing it on a late night arts show he would say it’s all very meta and then continue that meta is one of his favorite Greek cheeses. Piggy is hamming it up to 11 with this song, but she’s delivering a performance that is a true showstopper. And so is Frank. (Also, there are three food references in this write up – does it show I haven’t had dinner yet?)
5 – Love Led Us Here – Muppet Treasure Island
It should come as no surprise really that five out of six songs on this last so far are love songs. I guess today’s chart has failed the Bechdel test, but Kermit and Piggy’s relationship really is that important to the franchise. In the movies I can think of only two out of eight where their relationship isn’t a major plot point and in one of those they play husband and wife. Kermit and Piggy really do go together like a horse and carriage (as the classic song states). I think this might be my favorite of their duets – although it’s actually a surprisingly small sub-genre to choose from. Love Led Us Here was chosen to be the big pop ballad that accompanied Muppet Treasure Island (all 90s Disney movies had to have one) and the lyrics really do lend themselves to being performed in this way as they are very open to interpretation. Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote some incredible songs for this movie and many are personal favorites. I feel sometimes their contribution to Muppet culture gets a little overlooked.
4 – I’m a Woman – The Muppet Show
When I sat down to compile this list and rank its songs there were a handful that I just knew would make the top 10 and this was one of them. This sassy number feels so much like Miss Piggy’s theme song that if it had come out at number one I wouldn’t have been at all surprised. As much as I remarked earlier that this chart wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test, Miss Piggy really is a feminist icon – she even has the award to prove it! Looking at the list of other recipients of the Sackler Center First Award, which is given to women who make major cultural contributions, Piggy really is up there with some incredibly daring and forthright women. Piggy is a strong and confident W-O-P-I-G and although it seemed one of the first things that attracted her to Kermit was his position of power, it’s very clear to see she has the talent, assertiveness and willpower to go it alone. I love that in modern times we are seeing more and more of Piggy in this vein.
3 – Never Before, Never Again – The Muppet Movie
It’s probably fair to assume that a lot of people thought this would be today’s number one song. As part of the soundtrack to the legendary Muppet Movie this is likely to be Piggy’s best known song. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the most seen and/or heard track on this list. Once again with Piggy, the word iconic comes to mind. And yet, if you ask a lot of Muppet fans which track from The Muppet Movie is their least favorite or which they skip most often I would say the resounding answer would be this one. I have a couple of theories as to why… First, is that although it’s an astonishing vocal from Frank those high notes can attract dogs from a three mile radius, crack Aunt Mabel’s false teeth and get stains off the pan. That in itself would be fine if the joke played better, but (and here’s theory two) I just don’t think it’s as funny as it wants to be. Frank Oz was not the original choice to sing this (Johnny Mathis was) and I think this change has caused the sequence seem a little rudderless. It’s too serious to be funny and too tongue in cheek to be truly emotional. It’s a great song and well deserving of third place, but to me it just misses the bullseye that could have made it number one.
2 – I Will Survive – The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show
In accordance with the name of the special this song appears in, I think this is fantastic and the highlight of a show filled with them. The story goes that Miss Piggy came from very humble beginnings, having been born and raised above a butcher’s shop. Wanting more for her life, she decided to head out alone and started entering beauty pageants and taking modelling work (including adverts for bacon) to make ends meet. Throughout this period she honed her craft and eventually made her way onto a few Muppet specials before snagging a chorus girl slot on The Muppet Show. From there she became one of the most recognizable faces in the world and was even famous enough to get her own TV special. When taking her back-story into account, I Will Survive seems like the perfect track for Piggy to crown her success with. No longer is this a simple song of post-breakup empowerment – it’s now all about how Piggy overcame incredible odds to get where she is. Frank’s performance is played perfectly and he really does tell a story with his vocals.
1 – Something So Right – Muppets Most Wanted
Over the last week or so I’ve listened to a lot of Miss Piggy songs (and I mean a lot) and yet I haven’t found one that resonates with me emotionally as much as this one. Considering how relatively recent this track is I find that surprising, but I must admit I do seem to enjoy Miss Piggy’s character more and more these days. Rather than being the annoyance she sometimes was, I now empathise with her plight and actively root for her. Over the last few years she has gone from being a Muppet I wasn’t particularly bothered about to being one who can trouble my top five character list. I put that down in part to the writers of the two most recent movies, but really it’s mostly down to Eric Jacobson who is doing wonders with his portrayal as Piggy. Frank was a master of comedy and his live performances as Miss Piggy are legendary, but Eric plays Piggy’s flaws in a more sympathetic manner. Although it might not be a popular opinion, I prefer Eric’s Miss Piggy to Frank’s and I’m over the moon that he’s taken the top spot. This song is emotional, funny, beautifully sang and should have given Miss Piggy her first Academy Award.
And on that bombshell we’ve come to the end of this week’s list. I guess it’s fitting that “bombshell” is the word that springs to mind here as Miss Piggy is the epitome of “Blonde Bombshell” to me. The term is generally used to describe women who aren’t afraid to use their femininity to get what they want and the most famous examples are, here’s that word again, iconic. I don’t think it’s going too far to put Miss Piggy in the same category as Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot. She’s a global superstar and I’m certain is one of the reasons the Muppets have become as famous as they are and endured for so long. I really must thank Frank Oz and Eric Jacobson for making her the phenomenon she is, as well as everyone who has written for and performed with her. Thank You.
Finally, Happy Birthday Miss Piggy – you are a true heavyweight in the world of entertainment and I look forward to seeing whatever you do next.