Kieran Moore – Unless you live in the southern hemisphere or Arctic Circle, I’m sure (like me) you’ve been enjoying getting out and about and exercising in the fresh air and hot summer sun recently. Usually that sentence would be loaded with sarcasm as I’m not known for my joy of exercise, but this year I’ve signed up to run 5 and 10k races at Disneyland Paris so sofa-sitting is not an option.
As with all things in my life, I have to try and get the Muppets involved somehow so I’ve been looking at creating an exercise playlist which lets me enjoy Muppet music while I dream of Doritos. In order to make the cut, songs have to be reasonably uptempo and either be about exercise or full of positive, affirmative vibes. Goodness knows I need all the help I can get! So leg warmers, sweat bands and leotards at the ready – it’s time to exercise your ears!
10 – Exercise Song – Sesame Street
What better way to start then a rousing number called Exercise Song? This might well go down in history as one of the most annoying songs to ever appear on my charts (pity the song in 11th place), but that might be a good thing because it will definitely make me get up and run. In that respect it’s probably the perfect way to begin a training session. I’m surely not the only person that thinks this sounds like Jingle Bells?
9 – Snackcercise – The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show
I’ve gone for the TV version of this song. Although it’s shorter than the album track (for such a thing exists), I like the fun 1980’s visuals of this video. Miss Piggy did indeed release an exercise album back in the height of her fame. Entitled “Miss Piggy’s Aerobique Exercise Workout Album” the long player parodied other celebrity exercise albums of the same period – in particular that of Jane Fonda. (As a child of the late 70’s I knew Jane Fonda for fitness well before I was aware she was an actress!) Of course, the advice Piggy gives is dubious at best, but it’s worked for her. At 40+ years old I think she looks better now than she did then!
8 – Chase The Wind – Fraggle Rock
I’ve been incredibly lucky as a Muppet fan. ***Humble Brag Warning*** I’ve attended the premiere of Muppets Most Wanted, I’ve seen Kermit up close, I’ve attended 3 live Muppet Shows, I’ve chatted with Kirk Thatcher, I’ve had a tour of the Henson workshop and I’ve made friends with some of the best people on the planet via my fandom, BUT I’ve never met Karen Prell. This is surely next on my Muppet bucket list (along with tapdancing with Kermit). Many great Muppet people are happy to meet with fans or be seen on social media, but none of them seem as accessible as Karen. Virtually every Fraggle get together has her presence and by all accounts she is the nicest person in real life. One day I hope to get to speak with her and let her know just how much Fraggle Rock means to me.
7 – Lift the One You Love – Miss Piggy’s Aerobique Exercise Workout Album
This is perhaps not as hi-energy as some of the other tracks on today’s list, but it is absolutely hilarious. Once again we can see just how good Jim Henson and Frank Oz are as a comedy partnership – even when you can’t see them. Kermit’s yelps as Piggy lifts and stretches him are possibly some of the funniest things Jim ever did. And I love the part where Kermit tries to get out of lifting Piggy – I wish I could see this being performed. However, as funny as this is, in amongst all the humor there are actually some really sweet lyrics that can be taken as serious relationship advice on how to be supportive of your partner. If you’ve never heard this obscure song you absolutely must – it’s a wonderful character piece for Kermit and Miss Piggy.
6 – Exercise – Sesame Street
With its remit of promoting healthy living Sesame Street has featured the subject of exercise many, many times. Although Betty Lou is the lead singer here, Grover really is the show’s poster child for getting up and moving your body. He’s featured in a number of exercise themed skits, songs and sketches over the years – often in the guise of an instructor. Whether he’s driving Mr. Johnson crazy by forgetting his equipment or leading us and a few furry friends in a fun routine, he’s often seen in shorts and sweatband. Muppet Wiki says that Richard Hunt is performing Grover to Frank Oz’s vocal track in this song and he’s really going for it.
5 – Macho Man – The Muppet Show
As well as having a theme of exercising and getting as buff as possible (making it a perfect workout track), this is also completely bonkers so rates highly for me on just about every count. It’s brilliantly sung by Jim Henson as Link and Dave Goelz as Gonzo with the full Muppet Show cast in supporting roles. This is very, very funny; has a killer concept and is just about as random as the show ever got. Catapulting chickens, slapstick shenanigans and Gonzo fighting a shirt combine to make this as weird as any fever dream you’ve ever had. Gonzo’s art-inspired, beatnik style outfit is perfect for him. Was this the only time he wore it?
4 – I Knew I Was Good – Fraggle Rock
I guess your mileage may vary, but I sometimes found Gobo a little annoying with his super high opinion of himself. I don’t know why because Red had similar character traits and it never bothered me as much. Perhaps because she was more of an underdog and/or because her competitiveness was often played for laughs whereas with Gobo it seemed more arrogant. However, this isn’t the Gobo character asassination hour (that’s Tuesdays, 7PM). Instead, it’s a chance to celebrate him and his performer, Jerry Nelson. Despite any negative feelings towards Gobo as a character, Jerry made each of his singing performances one of the very best things about Fraggle Rock time and again. This self-assured track is no exception.
3 – Can You Picture That? – The Muppet Movie
Despite many strong contenders, this is still the best ever Electric Mayhem song. That’s a fact. It’s been scientifically tested in a C.O.V.N.E.T. lab. As well as having a rocking beat, this song makes today’s list for its awesomely affirmative lyrics. “Even Santa Claus believes in you” might be one of my favorite ever lines from a song, but this track is full of gems. I could quote them all night, but no one can pass on pearls of wisdom quite like Dr. Teeth. It must be something about Jim Henson and his piano playing puppets – if you want sage advice and clever philosophy look no further than the guy tinkling the ivories.
2 – Stretch, Wiggle, Yay! – Sesame Street
The Village People are having a good week so far, but then I think along with a solid rock track (like the one above) disco is really the music you need to get yourself up and about. Around 50% of this chart has some sort of disco credentials. What elevated this song into 2nd place (apart from being an amazing Sesame Street parody) was the way Oscar plays against type and sings the words “Stretch, Wiggle, Yay!”. He’s correct when he remarks about the things a Grouch will do for his worm. This might not be the Oscar we’ve come to expect, but it’s definitely the one we know and love. Caroll Spinney gets to really let his hair down as he sings this.
1 – Do it On My Own – Fraggle Rock
Is there a more self-affirming Muppet song? I certainly haven’t found one. That’s why I’ve been using this song as part of my workout for quite a while now. Several times a week you’ll find me jogging and lipsynching along to Red’s assertions that she can do anything she sets her mind to – even filling the pop machine. When I originally watched the show as a kid, Red wasn’t one of the five main Fraggle characters I instantly gravitated to. I felt much more a cross between Mokey and Wembley, but now I’ve grown up I’m finding myself becoming a mix of Red and Boober – it’s an interesting combination! Red’s self-belief is to a certain extent her over-riding character trait (along with her competitiveness), but I love that she often has moments where her guard comes down and we see her insecurities. This song has a great beat and killer guitar/bass lines (something Fraggle Rock excels at). I’m so happy after far too long that the Fraggles are back on top of one of my charts!
So now you have 10 tracks to get up and workout to you really have no excuse not to get away from your screen and start doing some jumping jacks or squat thrusts. I don’t care if you’ll get strange looks on the subway or you haven’t got room in the car – drop and give me 20 (bucks – please…) I have to say a huge Thank You to everyone who wrote or performed one of today’s songs. You’re getting me through my workouts brilliantly and contributing to a healthier, happier me. Thank You.