Kieran Moore – It’s hard to believe, but this is my 31st character chart! When I started this series in 2015, Elmo’s name was written on one of the very first pieces of paper I used to select which character would be featured next. Week after week he didn’t get picked so the pressure of writing this chart has loomed over me for a very long time.
You see, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll admit I’m not an enormous Elmo fan. I find his cutesy demeanor and voice a little difficult to take sometimes. Also (again, it’s cards on the table time), it’s hard not to feel a little put out seeing him get the screen time some of my favorite characters used to. I know that countless reams have been written about why we should embrace Elmo and get with the times, and although it makes sense, it doesn’t negate the feelings this old fart of a Sesame Street fan feels sometimes.
So instead of relying on someone else’s opinions to form my own, I’m going to let the next 10 songs do the talking (singing) and I’ll report back as we go. Let’s see what happens…
10 – Pride – Sesame Street
Straight off the bat this song has the added benefit of featuring The Goo Goo Dolls so that’s a definite bonus (I love John Rzeznik’s songs from the “Treasure Planet” soundtrack). They’re very radio-friendly so I guess it was really only a matter of time before they got the call to visit Sesame Street. They work really well with Elmo to produce a track that’s fun, educational and enjoyable to listen to – you can’t ask for more really. Over the years Elmo has sung with a whole host of celebrities including everyone from Andrea Bocelli to Rosie O’Donnell so he’s covered all musical bases (and then some). As the most famous Sesame Street Muppet of the last 20 years I guess it makes sense they’d match the big names together.
9 – Red and Blue – Sesame Street
Hey “A Green & Red Christmas”, Red and Blue called – they want their song back! The title track of that seasonal album is my favorite and this similarly themed song continues the trend by becoming (officially) one of my favorite Elmo songs. I just love the part where Grover and Elmo come together to admit they also love each other’s favorite colour. I was recently reminded of the scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where “Truly Scrumptious” and “Doll on a Music Box” converge and this song dovetails together just as neatly. It’s superb. Having said previously that Elmo is overly cute you might think pairing him up with Grover who is also adorable might be like sucking on a pound of sugar, but I think they must cancel each other out as this doesn’t bother me at all. Maybe it’s all about balance with Elmo?
8 – Elmo’s Song – Sesame Street
I’m guessing that a lot of people would have expected this to feature much higher than eighth place – after all, it’s right there in the title. This is Elmo’s Song. The trouble is, it’s also Big Bird’s Song and Snuffy’s Song and Grizzy’s Song and… And that’s not a problem; it’s just that in some ways, even with his name in the title I guess it doesn’t quite feel like Elmo’s song anymore. It’s a wonderful composition though. It’s simple in the best kind of ways. You’ll be singing this all day, I guarantee it! Make sure you insert your own name though. Of course the best thing to do with an earworm like this is to pass it on, so later today when you’re at the checkout, dropping off the kids at school or saving Metropolis from a huge meteor make sure you’re at the very least humming this under your breath. It’ll be fun to see if you can get the cashier/teachers/entire population of Metropolis to sing along…
7 – Together Forever – Elmo’s Adventure in Grouchland
Before I start, sorry for the slightly strange video – this song is surprisingly difficult to find online. Despite its reputation, there are a lot of things to love about Elmo’s Adventures in Grouchland and, for me personally, top of that list are the music and songs. I was surprised to find that more than one song writing team put the soundtrack together as it works very nicely as a collection of songs. This movie is probably Elmo’s most high profile gig to date, considering he’s the lead in a theatrical release, so I really do need to mention the man who made him such a household name. Kevin Clash was a fantastic Muppet performer who perfectly straddled the pre and post-Jim eras. You always felt that Kevin was able to push forward whilst honoring the Muppets legacy. I feel like he got “it” more than any other cast member who joined the gang after The Muppet Show ended. For what it’s worth I miss him.
6 – Two Friends of Two – Sesame Street
Elmo performs a heck of a lot of duets on Sesame Street as we’ve already seen. A decent proportion of his recent musical output is with Abby Cadabby and I must admit that I think they are a great pair. If you want to know more about my love for Abby you can check out my recent chart based on her character, but to summarise – “Leslie Carrara-Rudolph is awesome”. Abby and Elmo are firm friends and are often seen hanging around together. As this twosome has grown increasingly close I must admit I find myself feeling a bit sad for Zoe who was originally designed to compliment Elmo and add a female perspective to his relationships (and the character roster at large). It’s all good though I’m sure. No one’s left out on Sesame Street. This song zips along at breakneck speed and I can’t help, but get swept along with it.
5 – Elmo Will Sit Still – The Furchester Hotel
The Furchester Hotel (for those that don’t know) is a wonderful British show that has been hugely successful. It also got Sesame Street characters back on UK TV screens for the first time in years. If you haven’t watched at least one episode then I implore you to give it a go. Yes, it’s for preschool kids; but any Henson/Sesame Street/puppetry fan should give it a look see. You won’t be disappointed. Elmo is brilliantly funny here as he deals with the emotions we all experience when we’re told not to do something. His expressions are brilliant. And that’s down to Elmo’s current performer, Ryan Dillon. Ryan was ridiculously young when he started working with Sesame Street and as such has grown into the responsibility of portraying one of their flagship characters with aplomb. I love his slightly different take on Elmo. Recasts are always fun.
4 – Planets, Moon and Stars – Sesame Street
This song for me feels like the spiritual cousin to “If Moon Was Cookie” and “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon”. Both ranked highly on their respective character’s charts and this has continued the trend by appearing in fourth place here. Looking at the 10 songs featured today you could potentially say that this is the “cutest” to appear and yet somehow I don’t find myself reaching for the sick bucket. Instead this is sweet and sincere and sweetly sincere. Perhaps I really do need to reassess my preconceived notions of Elmo. I also have to praise Kevin Clash specifically once again for his beautiful vocals. Having had several listens to this in quick succession, I can honestly say I find his soft, whispery tones incredibly beautiful and even, dare I say it, a little moving. To have such a small monster singing about such a huge concept is very humbling.
3 – Happy Tappin’ With Elmo – Sesame Street
This and the last song go right from one end of the scale to the other! It’s impossible to stay still while this is playing – and pretty hard not to smile too! This tune is a fun homage to some of those old Hollywood tap dancing numbers that were performed by Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly so I’m pleased they didn’t go the “Happy Feet” route. Instead, the full-body puppetry here is incredible. It’s such a simple effect that we’ve all seen before, but that really doesn’t matter. I’m finding this song so infectious. Once again it’s at the cuter end of the scale (to be fair, with Elmo the scale runs from “adorable” to “basket of puppies”), but it’s not causing me to break out in hives. What has this chart done to me?
2 – Be Doodle De Dum – Sesame Street
This is such a silly song! I love it when Muppets go extra weird! This song with its marching band vibe reminds me of The Beatles’ dafter moments like “Yellow Submarine” or parts of the “Sergeant Pepper” album. In fact, this might have made a nice epilogue to the end of the “Sesame Road” album… It also reminds me of two of Disney’s more nonsensical numbers – namely “Hi Diddle De Dee (An Actor’s Life for Me)” and more specifically “Following the Leader”. I guess that familiarity is why I like this so much. I just can’t watch this video without smiling. I think I must be cracking… Mind you, you’d have to be pretty hard-hearted not to think this song was a lot of fun and by extension its singer too. For a while this was very much in contention for the top spot…
1 – Valentine’s Day Song – Sesamestreet.org
This song reminds me of the girl groups of the 50’s and 60’s. Or it could very easily be a missing track from the “Hairspray” musical instead. It totally has that feel, which is no bad thing in my book. What can I say? I just love this song! As I write about an Elmo/Abby Valentine’s song it occurs to me I’ve used the word “love” a heck of a lot in this chart. I guess that’s the power of Elmo – he is love. As Kevin Clash said of his take on Elmo’s persona, “I knew that Elmo should represent love – just kissing and hugging.” As such, Elmo offers nothing but pure, unconditional love and as I let that fact sink in I guess it would be mean of me not to offer it back in return. That doesn’t mean I have to “like” everything he does, but it does mean I should be able to find room in my heart to love him. Over the course of the last 10 songs it seems Elmo has rocked my world (in more ways than one).
For one reason or another I’ve needed a bit of cheering up and stress relief this week (does anyone want to move house for me?), and although I may have been reticent to tackle Elmo’s chart, he’s actually been just what the doctor ordered. Elmo is sweet, but not sickly. He’s everywhere, but beloved; and he’s definitely earned his place amongst the Sesame Street greats. I have to finish by saying thank you to everyone who’s worked with Elmo over the years including Ryan Dillon, but really the biggest thanks has to go to Kevin Clash, a man who had the foresight to create a worldwide phenomenon. Thank You.
This is the chart, La-La-La-La, Elmo’s chart,
La-La-La-La, La-La-La-La, Elmo’s chart,
I wrote the big words,
The small ones too,
That’s Elmo’s Chaaaart!