Kieran Moore – Dear Reader,
You are cordially invited to the biggest Muppet happening of 2018 (if you ignore The Muppets Take the O², Muppet Babies, Muppet Guys Talking and Frank Oz’s twitter fight with Gyles Brandreth).
Please be seated/upstanding/tap-dancing in oatmeal and don your tuxedo/Groucho Marx disguise/fart shoes as we celebrate my 150th Top 10 Chart!
For your delight and delectation we will be serving roast beef the price of an Oldsmobile/swill stroganoff/pink ice cream (that’s an obscure fraggle reference folks – I like to give back to the fans) and we’ll wash it down with birdseed milkshakes/margaritas from the midnight buffet/the finest wines of Idaho.
We also have an enticing and exhilarating musical programme featuring songs from our very favorite Muppets and what might be the largest collection of Henson franchises ever assembled in one top 10 chart.
So join us as we enjoy/endure/scroll through quickly to find out what’s number one the Top 10 Muppet Celebration Songs.
(Horse drawn carriages/sloppy jalopies/Schwinn bikes at midnight.)
10 – Happy Happy Birthday – Bear in the Big Blue House
First on tonight’s performance schedule is the cast of Bear in the Big Blue House. How I’ve missed including them in my charts. It’s so great to welcome them to our celebrations today! I love all of the cast of this underrated show, but Treelo the lemur is really the star here. This song is full of energy and the perfect way to kick off any kind of party. Sure, it might seem a little odd at a stranger’s Golden Wedding Anniversary dinner, but you can’t be banned from The Savoy forever, right?
9 – Be A Frog – The Muppet Show
Up next we have our very own tribute to Kermit the Frog, as seen as part of his (incorrect) birthday celebrations on The Muppet Show. Date be darned – is there ever a good time not to honor our favorite amphibian? Hands up – who here didn’t want to be a frog at some point? Seeing Kermit’s family croak and splash, eat flies in the muck and live near enough to Walt Disney World to qualify for a locals’ discount? That’s my idea of heaven. For a fun song this actually has a slightly scary visual. There’s a touch of the Podling about all those repeating pigs with weird eyes and Miss Piggy looks like Lady Gaga way before it was cool to do so. Still our celebration is continuing at lightning speed so maybe we should slow it down for the next one – we don’t want to peak too early.
8 – Faces That I Love – Sesame Street
What’s a celebration without friends and family? (Cheaper, quieter and less of a compromise – but let’s dwell on the positive). We all have that special someone we get in touch with when something great happens. This song reminds of those people and makes us think back to the times we’ve spent together at birthdays, weddings and, in the case of this song, on New Year’s Eve. Apart from Auld Lang Syne (which to be fair has the market sewn up) there are very few New Year’s songs so this probably deserves to be better known. It’s a sweet little number and I like the fact that just about everyone gets the chance to sing a solo or duet line. Now if you’ll excuse me from my own celebration for just a moment, I think I’ve spotted a Fraggle hole…
7 – Pass it On – Fraggle Rock
Hey! It’s Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober and Red! I guess a lot of Muppet fans know this particular song from Muppet Family Christmas, but it isn’t here as part of an early Yuletide celebration – instead we’re looking at the joy of gift giving and how sharing what you have is at the heart of all festivities. I mentioned Muppet Family Christmas earlier, but I think I prefer this version of Pass it On over the one featured there. Wembley’s adlibs are better – he can scat anything. Seriously, Steve Whitmire is a scatting genius. I also like the orchestration with the flute line and Fraggle backing singers. This is larger and grander and much more fitting for a celebration. I guess it’s time to rejoin the party, but perhaps we can get the Fraggles back to perform later…?
6 – Rainbow Connection – The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years
Whenever the Muppets celebrate anything really important you can guarantee the gang will all be there – and here they really are. This clip is a who’s who of the first 30 years of their existence. We even get a cameo from Sam (and friends) and Jim Henson! I love that we get little moments with random bunches of characters like rats and chickens and old people. Ignoring the fact that the 30 years thing is in the title, if a Muppet historian ever wanted to date this special they need look no further than the prominence given to the Little Muppet Monsters. Whenever you get a big enough bunch of Muppets together you’ll always hear Rainbow Connection. Far from being overused though, here it ties everything together and shows that these disparate Muppet elements are all joined by the same special strand.
5 – Jerry Nelson: A 65th Birthday Celebration
This is probably one of the greatest ever hidden gems of the Muppet world. Once again we’re joined by a large gang of Muppets who have all got together to celebrate something or someone special. If you can think of a Muppet performer who was around in the late 90s chances are they’re involved (with the obvious exception of Jerry Nelson). This is hilarious and features all those random Muppet pairings you never knew you wanted – Gonzo and Prairie Dawn, Beauregard and Cookie Monster, Zoe and Miss Piggy, Red Fraggle and Big Bird… The list goes on and on and every interaction is just right for the characters. It’s fun to listen to this and play who’s who since we can’t actually see who is talking – there’s even a joke about how Fozzie and Bert sound alike. And check out Fozzie fat shaming Ernie! Seriously, every single second of this is amazing. Rick Lyon wrote this song and it should seriously have won the 1999 Grammy for best use of random Muppets in a song. However, our next song did actually take the prize so let’s celebrate good times, come on!
4 – Celebration – Muppets From Space
We can’t possibly have a Muppet-based celebration without including this song. Unfortunately, Muppets From Space doesn’t get seen very often on my charts, but that’s because it doesn’t have many Muppets singing songs. In fact, this is about it. The lack of musical Muppets is one of the reasons this film doesn’t quite do it for me, but there’s actually a lot of fun to be had. It’s got a great sense of humor. The vocals for this track are provided by the mighty Bill Barretta who is showing us just why he might be one of the most underrated singers in the Muppet pantheon. When one mentions great Muppet singers names like Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson and Louise Gold regularly come up. Bill definitely deserves to be listed amongst them. This should really be the closing number of our festivities, but we need to have an extended encore and I think all that disco music has made our Fraggle friends curious. Perhaps we can ask them to sing?
3 – There’s a Promise – Fraggle Rock
These last three songs really are fantastic sing-along numbers so I hope you’re all in fine voice. The Festival of the Bells is the Fraggles’ version of Winter Solstice, Christmas Day and New Year all wrapped into one. If you want to know more, after this song has played Cantus explains all about it. The Fraggles have a whole slew of fun festivals and celebration days. Most are steeped in myth, legend and mysticism – much like our own. I especially enjoy the way this song builds and splits into parts – it’s a really vocal track. A lot of celebrations focus on something that’s passed or already happened, but it’s important to remember that they also look to the future and give us hope for what’s still to come. This song captures that element perfectly.
2 – Just One Person – The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
We can’t possibly host a Muppet celebration without mentioning the founder of the feast. Jim Henson is the reason we’re all here today. I don’t mean here on Earth (speak to your parents about that one), I mean here at this website. My life has been touched and blessed in so many ways because of Jim. He certainly did leave the world a little better than when he got here. If you can watch this without crying, more power to you. I’m just listening to it while I type and hearing the Muppets read those letters is making me well up. It’s heartbreaking to hear these characters expressing people’s grief (and their own). Between this special and Jim’s memorial service I have no clue how the performers got through singing and acting at such sad occasions. In oh so many ways this is the embodiment of “the show must go on”.
1 – Jim Is – 1987 Television Academy Hall of Fame
We’re continuing our celebration of Jim Henson, but in a more jolly way this time. This song is hilarious. First and foremost its comedy is its main selling point. The lyrics are priceless. Highlights include “Jim is a fairly adequate boss” and “I is the middle letter – That’s not right grammatically”. Every line is true to the character singing it and written with them in mind. This was certainly not a case of write the song then divide up the lines. The joke about soup is probably one of the smartest, funniest things Kermit and Miss Piggy have ever said. Every bit as good is the music itself. After 150 charts you know I love a song that takes two separate parts and then puts them together over the top of each other. This is one of the finest examples in the Muppet canon (Did somebody say cannon? [I had to include at least one in this 150th chart]). This song was written by Ray Charles and Larry Grossman. I can guarantee Larry wrote some of your favorite Muppet songs and Ray Charles has a musical CV that lists everyone from The Electric Mayhem to Perry Como. I guess it’s fitting that we have ended this celebration chart with a tribute to the wonderful Jim Henson, but also that it was on a positive note.
So now that we’ve come to the end of the night and Beauregard is waiting outside in a New York cab, I guess it’s time to wrap things up. As mentioned above, we’ve had so many wonderful Muppets feature in this list, but we’ve also seen a wide range of musical styles as well as brilliant performers, songwriters and lyricists. We’ve also had big emotions and raucous comedy. I’d like to think that in many ways this celebration chart is a microcosm of all of my last 150 lists, with a bit of everything that makes the Muppets special included. When I started out writing for the Muppet Mindset I had no clue I’d get this far, now I can’t wait to write the next 150 posts! Thanks everyone for coming – see you all next week!
P.S. As you leave please don’t forget to pick up your mink from the cloakroom. She’s your biggest fan…