The Top 10 Songs of: The Top 10 Songs (Character Edition Pt.2)

The Top 10

Kieran Moore – I can’t believe it – here we are almost at the end of April and I’m only just now rounding up the second edition of my character based charts! The Scooter list (which was first) is now well over three months old! The delay was in part due to my amazing vacation to L.A., but also because “The Top 10 Songs of…” hit the big 5-0 in January so we broke off to celebrate all of the charts that have gone before.

Speaking of which that’s what I’m here to do today (the celebration part) – this chart will provide a definitive ranking of the number one songs from my second edition of character based charts. Suffice to say, as these are all previous chart toppers they really are the crème de la crème of Muppet songs and some of these positions seem incredibly mean. It’s a tough job, but somebody had to do it…

10 – Little Things – Prairie Dawn – Sesame Street
And instantly how do I feel putting this sweet song at number 10? It makes feel about this big (clue: not very – which ironically makes me a “little thing”!) Beautifully sung here by Fran Brill as Prairie Dawn, this is cute without being cutesy. Fran’s recent retirement from performing was a great loss to the Muppet world (do we use the phrase “Muppet-verse”?), but I think you’d have to be pretty hard-hearted to begrudge her some time off after 45 years. I suppose in recent times Fran’s signature character has become Zoe, but for me at least she’ll always be Prairie Dawn (and the Porcupine from “Bean Bunny’s Animal Songs”). This number was written by Joe Raposo and has been performed by him too, but this will always be my favorite version. As a “little thing” herself Prairie Dawn brings an extra layer of relatability I feel. Honorable Mention: Girls of the World

9 – Ode to Joy – Beaker – Muppet Viral Videos
This song is comedy gold and I suppose ranks this low on the chart only because it’s so slight. It’s Beaker’s biggest ever moment by a country mile thanks to the video’s 18+ million views and status as a Webby Award winner. I feel a little disloyal to Richard Hunt to say it, but I’m not sure that Beaker has ever sounded as good musically. I say that not to do down Steve Whitmire who you can plainly hear is phenomenal, but because there was so much good material on the Beaker chart sung by Richard it’s a shame I haven’t been able to honor him here for the years of work he did. I’m sure we’ll hear from him again though (hint: we will!) The joke of multiple Beakers and their mishaps started way back in the old “Muppet Show” days and has yet to be unfunny! Honorable Mention: Feelings

8 – Doin’ the Pigeon – Bert – Sesame Street
One of the joys of writing these pieces is making little Muppety discoveries and I feel that thanks to my Bert chart I really got to know him and how by being dull he’s actually quite interesting. I think as an adult I prefer Bert to Ernie, but as a kid I’m sure it was the other way around. Frank Oz is amazing here both in terms of vocals and puppetry performance. There’s a really nice vaudeville tone to his voice and I love the vibrato he adds to give things a little showbiz sparkle. It makes a nice contrast to the more staid characteristics we usually see from Bert. This is a guy letting his hair down. This song reminds me of something I’d hear in “Bugsy Malone” which instantly gives it extra points as I adore that movie. Honorable Mention: The Paperclip

7 – Six String Orchestra – Scooter and The Electric Mayhem – The Muppet Show
The very fact that this song is at number seven when it’s sung by my favorite Muppet should give you guys an idea of the difficult choices I’ve had to make here. This has it all for me; it’s marvellously musical, fabulously funny, sublimely sung and like all the best Muppet songs awesomely atmospheric (alliteration is your faithful friend, folks!) On top of all that it gives me another excuse to name check Richard Hunt, so what’s not to love? Going back to the atmospheric thing, don’t you love it went the Muppets get a bit haunting? The Muppet Show was littered with spine tingling songs such as “You and Me”, “We Must Believe in Magic” or “The Gambler” and every single one is amongst the best work they ever did. For every lobster bandito or dancing chicken there’s a moment like this one that explores the human condition and makes you think about your own reality. It’s mind-blowing. Honorable Mention: Guest Star Song

6 – Movin’ Right Along – Fozzie Bear and Kermit the Frog – The Muppet Movie
I know I got grief from “The Editor” (Note from Jarrod: Hey, that’s me!  I prefer ‘Glorious Leader’) for saying it before, but I was truly surprised that this song was only number six. On what kind of planet does this song ever come in sixth? Mind. Blown. This is Jim’s first proper appearance on the chart and it makes me happy that I can shine a spotlight on his amazing working relationship with Frank Oz by featuring this song. They work together so well it’s almost hard to imagine that they didn’t hatch out of the same egg or something. They are genuinely one of the great comedy partnerships of all time for me up there with the likes of Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and [insert political joke here]. This is such a clever song. Written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher, the lyrics are knock-about fun and incredibly witty. In the hands of less-skilled comedy performers this wouldn’t have half as much charm. Honorable Mention: Play a Simple Melody

5 – The Grouch Anthem – Oscar the Grouch and Grouch Chorus – Sesame Street Presents: Follow that Bird
This song has now featured on several charts and I don’t think I’ll never tire of hearing it. I hate repeating myself, but as I said in my previous write ups this number whisks me away to my childhood like almost nothing else I can think of. Watching this song on an almost endless loop on VHS is one of my fondest early memories. I could go into a whole bunch of sentimental reasons why this means so much, but I’ll save that for a time when Oscar isn’t around as he doesn’t really do the smooshy stuff. As with the previous piece, aside from the splendid performance by Caroll Spinney, this is really all about the lyrics. The song was written by Jeff Pennig, Jeff Harrington and Steve Pippin and I don’t think I’ve ever credited them before so I’m pleased I can do so now. After all, these guys wrote my three favorite songs from Follow that Bird. Honorable Mention: Bein’ Green

4 – I Hope that Something Better Comes Along – Rowlf the Dog and Kermit the Frog
Oh Rowlf, how I love you! And I really, really do. I think we share a similar sense of humor. I’ve been told I’m like Kermit in real life, but in my heart I want to be Rowlf. You know what will bother me most if The Muppets doesn’t get renewed? The fact that we’d just got to the point where the powers that be realized we wanted to see Rowlf perform and all of the potential sketches that we could miss. Come on ABC, don’t regret things you didn’t do. I feel a little like a broken record saying that this song has clever and witty lyrics, but it’s true so what can I do? I have a dream that when I’m on a big time talent show and it’s movie week I’ll sing a big band version of this as a bit of a lounge lizard type character. Picture the scene – end of the night I’m there with bowtie undone nursing a glass of scotch, the barkeep is packing away and stools are being put up on tables, I’ve sunk all my money into the glass slipper business… Honorable Mention: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

3 – Halfway Down the Stairs – Robin – The Muppet Show
I guess this could also be included on my list of haunting songs from The Muppet Show. It’s certainly hauntingly beautiful. No one could have sung this as well as Jerry Nelson in my opinion. He’s not just a superb singer, he’s also one of the best actors the Muppet troupe has ever had and that’s exactly what was required here. This is a song where you have to care about the singer. You have to hear every word and believe it. Jerry could do that like no other. Whatever he does, no matter how silly or Muppetational, he gets me emotionally invested so when the piece is as emotional as this one it goes without saying that special things happen. Speaking of Jerry, Count von Count is easily my most requested chart subject and I promise he’s coming. Although the characters are picked randomly I have to make sure I space out the big names so I don’t peak too early! A final word on Robin – how cool was he in “Little Green Lie”? Flippn’ frosty. That’s how cool. Honorable Mention: Someone to Watch Over Me

2 – Dixie Wailin’ – Boober Fraggle, Red Fraggle, Gobo Fraggle and Junior Gorg – Fraggle Rock
When my time to go is here, call my friends to gather near, tell the Doctor and the Preacher that I’m failing, but forget about your black, ‘cos I’m planning to come back, play some honky-tonkin’ grief and Dixie Wailin’. And really that’s all I want. This is one third of the triumvirate of Muppet songs I want at my funeral and it pretty much sums up exactly what I want my funeral to be like. Furthermore, this song will always have a special place in my heart as it’s now a regular on the set list for my a cappella group. It makes me so happy that I can get a room full of adults excited for a Fraggle Rock song. I love the surprised reaction I get when they realise a song like this comes from a kids’ show! I have to take this opportunity to praise Dave Goelz and Karen Prell for their fantastic Fraggleness. Their portrayals of Boober and Red are the bedrock of Fraggle Rock! Honorable Mention: The Gipsy Song (I Sniff the Rose)

1 – Let Me Be Your Song – Cantus Fraggle and The Minstrels – Fraggle Rock
There’s something of a theme in these last two songs and it’s not just because they’re from Fraggle Rock – this is actually the second song in the holy trinity of Muppet songs I want at my funeral (the third is “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday”). If I was told I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life this would be a very serious contender. It’s about as perfect as a song can get as far as I’m concerned. I only wrote about this song last week (this might be the first time a song has been number one for more than one week) so I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but I have to say it again – this song could be the story of my life. Jim Henson has never been better than he is in this song. That’s a bold statement, but I really think it’s true. Honorable Mention: Lose Your Heart and it’s Found

Picking the order for these songs has been a real emotional roller coaster. I’d put them all at number one if I could (OK, I know that I have – otherwise they wouldn’t be here in the first place, but you know what I mean.) Each song on this list speaks to me in someway – even Ode to Joy – and their contribution to my life can’t be underestimated. I guess what I really want to do now is thank the Muppets for giving me such a wealth of experiences through song that I’m able to have to go through the torture of trying to rank them! I find my Muppety mind being expanded all the time writing these charts, so I also need to thank the gang (and all those behind the scenes) for giving me incredible opportunities to expand and grow. Thanks guys – you totally rock!

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