Kieran Moore – Well who’d have thought it? We’ve made it all the way to season 10 of Sesame Street! From humble beginnings to pop culture phenomenon – the first 10 years of the show were an incredible period for everyone concerned. We’ve seen characters and actors come and go, there have been changes to the production crew, and the curriculum has evolved quite a bit since 123 Sesame Street first opened its doors; yet the quality of the show has always been maintained. There really wasn’t bad year amongst the first 10.
That said, every chart I’ve produced so far has been graced with at least one classic Sesame Street moment, but I’m not sure there’s one here. Certainly, there are memorable moments and the entertainment value of today’s 10 songs (and the many that didn’t quite make it) can’t be denied, but are any of these truly iconic moments? I guess we’ll see. In the meantime, even if we don’t have a classic moment we can at least have a classical one…
10 – Little Fugue in G Minor
Season 10 of Sesame Street was chock full of musical guest stars, so I’m shocked to see that Canadian Brass are the only ones who made this list! Several came very, very close. This song is therefore representing every guest, including the likes of Paul Simon, Madeline Kahn, Johnny Cash, Richie Havens, Jose Feliciano and The Deadly Nightshade. I am particularly sad the latter’s version of Old Macdonald missed out. The reason this shone out over the others though is just that it’s so different from what you might expect. I love that Sesame Street gives kids the chance to experience a range of entertainment types. Who knows what passion this might have awoken in a kid who wouldn’t hear classical music otherwise?
9 – M M M Monster Meal
I might have said there are no iconic moments on this list, but this is certainly m m m memorable. This is the definition of short and sweet, but it makes me sway and smile every time I listen to it. It’s infectious! This song employs that old time/rag style that Sesame Street does so well but is tinged with a little bit of country for good measure. Why is it that Sesame Street has so many lovable blue monsters? Along with Grover, this pair make fuzzy and blue super cool and super cute. And we can’t forget Beautiful Day Monster who appeared fleetingly in Sesame Street’s early years (or Rosita who has picked up the baton more recently). This song has a fun ending that I really enjoy – but then it has a fun beginning and a fun middle that I really enjoy too!
8 – I’m Gonna Be a Country Girl
Buffy Sainte-Marie has appeared multiple times in very high positions on my last few lists, so I don’t need to tell you how great I think she is. This song has made the cut for pretty much the same reasons as the others – Buffy’s voice and musicality being chief amongst them. What this has over some of the others is Richard Hunt. His turns as Gladys the Cow are always fun, but you can tell this was recorded during the Muppet Show years. He’s clearly at home talking and singing with superstar performers – a skill he was able to hone as Scooter. A few of these moments feel “off the cuff” which is something the best Muppet performers do brilliantly. His harmonies are second to none and although this song is quite simple its classy performance elevates it to greatness.
7 – Tell a Joke
If you can listen to this song and not laugh you might need to seek medical assistance! This might be Harvey Kneeslapper’s first appearance on my charts, so I’m pleased to welcome him in to the fold today. He’s a character that straddles the line that separates endearing and annoying really well. I think he’s quite charming, but your mileage may vary. Harvey was eventually retired with one of the main reasons being that Frank Oz found him hard to perform. It’s a shame as he obviously does comedians well – it’s impossible to listen to this and not hear Fozzie Bear. The voices are different enough, but there are some real similarities in their joker status and abilities. They even share similar dialogue – just wait for that last line.
6 – One Potato
This is a fun take on a classic kids’ counting song. I guess if anyone was going to do it, it would be Count von Count. This song has lots going for it. We have Jerry Nelson’s wonderful vocals for a start. He’s well known for his singing ability, but I particularly love him as The Count. His enthusiasm as a performer perfectly matches the character’s excitement for numbers and counting. It’s a match made in heaven. Once again, we get to hear The Count’s signature Eastern European musical style and there are some fantastic supporting turns that are somehow playing the “straight” man whilst being very, very funny indeed. This might be the best potato-based song ever!
5 – Walkin’ Down My Street
This is Big Bird’s last musical appearance in this series of Sesame Street season charts. As we get to this point I’m actually surprised at how little he’s featured. Although lots of other characters were popular with viewers by this point, Big Bird was a bona fide star. He was the face of Sesame Street. It’s been interesting to look across these last 10 weeks to see how characters have come and gone. Some, like Grover, appeared lots and lots at the start but have found their appearances dwindling over time. Bert and Ernie are similar. Others, like Cookie Monster, have been much steadier in how often they feature. While Herry seems to have picked up momentum recently. Then there are the characters like Snuffy and Roosevelt Franklin who I just couldn’t quite fit in at all. Sorry guys.
4 – Eight Beautiful Notes
It appears Big Bird and Olivia have become the filling for a Count von Count sandwich! Mmm, delicious! This could be the closest this chart comes to an iconic moment, but that’s more because it encapsulates the character of The Count so perfectly than anything else. It thrills me that the public-at-large took The Count to their hearts. On paper you could say this is a character that shouldn’t work, but the writers and performer made this horror-rific guy so charismatic it’s impossible not to love him. I know I do. I’m not sure when seeing The Count’s castle at the opening of a scene was dropped, but do we know if he officially still lives there? Given the price of real estate these days he should think about selling up and downsizing.
3 – Happy Blues
This song (along with many, many more) was written by Tony Geiss. He was a prolific writer for Sesame Street and is almost certainly behind at least one of your favorite songs from the show. He also co-wrote “Follow That Bird”, which makes him a Sesame Street legend as far as I’m concerned. Here he’s given Oscar the Grouch a number to sing that perfectly flips the blues genre on its head. If Oscar sang this song long enough his wife wouldn’t live him, his dog wouldn’t die, his house wouldn’t be repossessed, and he wouldn’t end up in jail! I love a song with a happy ending – the problem is Oscar doesn’t! Caroll Spinney is once again awesome as Oscar. It blows my mind that Big Bird and Oscar share the same performer. Talk about versatility…
2 – We’re a Family
I must admit I wasn’t familiar with this song before I researched this chart. However, I was blown away as soon as I heard it. It’s not a complicated song, but that’s all to the good because it means we can all sing along with ease. It’s an inclusive experience and that’s kind of the point. The message behind this song is probably its biggest selling point. I remember there being a push in the early 90’s to discuss single parent households and what were seen as unusual family structures. In that sense this is quite progressive and that makes me happy. Families do come in all shapes and sizes so I’m pleased kids had the chance to see their circumstances portrayed onscreen. Also, I guess I was lying when I said Roosevelt Franklin didn’t make this series of charts…
1 – It Takes Some Time
It was a real tussle between this song and the previous one for the top spot on today’s list. I had to listen to both several times to make a final decision. I’m a big fan of Alaina Reed – she has a wonderful voice, but why she really stands out to me is how well she can sell a lyric. You know she feels every word so it’s easy to follow along and experience the exact same emotions. There are lots of accomplished singers out there, but only the best can really touch your soul like this. Aside from Alaina the other reason this took first place was the writing. This was penned by the incomparable Sam Pottle and the eloquent Ray Siphard. (forgive my Pigs in Space moment there – I couldn’t resist.) They have laced this song with such meaning that when combined with Alaina’s singing abilities it becomes really affecting. Every now and again Sesame Street surprises it’s audience with a moment like this. The fact that the show has the confidence to take time out to slow the pace and give us the feels is surely part of its longevity.
And longevity is a great place to end this because as we know the show has endured way past the first 10 seasons. So, it only remains for me to thank everyone who appears today in whatever way, shape or form as well as all those who worked behind the scenes. As we’ve seen, season 10 may not have stood out like flashy sparkles in the water or stars in the sky, but it was beautiful and what other kids’ shows wanted to be. Thank You.