The Top 10 Songs of: The Last 10 Charts!

The Top 10

Kieran Moore – Over the last 10 charts we’ve looked in depth at the music of the first decade of Sesame Street so today I’m wrapping up the series with a rundown and ranking of all the number one songs.

It’s been a real blast to get to know Sesame Street’s early years properly. There have been obscure characters, slightly surreal moments and all sorts of Muppet madness mixed in with iconic songs, televisual classics and Sesame Street’s trademark charm and wit. As the best of the best, it goes without saying that today’s songs are the pinnacle of everything the show stands for and strives to do. So grab yourself some cookies and a birdseed milkshake and enjoy…

10 – Still, We like Each Other – Season 4
It’s no secret that I love a ballad and it’s also no secret that I love Grover, so it might come as a bit of a surprise that this song is in 10th place. Especially when it contains a reference to peanut butter (another thing I love). Alas, someone had to find themselves going first… Grover was consistently in a high position on my charts about the first few years of Sesame Street – though he did start to fade away a little towards the end. I can’t help but wonder if this was due to performer Frank Oz’s busy schedule. Once The Muppet Show hit our TV screens Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear became such huge stars. Their fortune is perhaps Grover’s bad luck. This is a beautiful song that tackles the huge Sesame Street subject of diversity in a charming, endearing and non-threatening way. Honorable Mention: Imagination

9 – It Takes Some Time – Season 10
I told you I like a ballad. In style I guess this and the last song are quite similar, but this has just edged it for me today. Something about this number draws me in and I can’t ignore that. There’s probably a musical term for it – maybe it’s just the key, but there’s an edge to this that makes it a little darker than the average Sesame Street ballad. The idea of having to wait to fulfil your potential makes this feel slightly mournful and I really like that aspect. Anything that features Olivia gets a bonus point or two from me. I’ve been a big fan of Alaina Reed Hall’s singing ever since I heard One Little Star from “Follow That Bird”. Olivia was introduced to Sesame Street at a time when they were focussing on having a wider range of female characters. As a strong, career-led woman she became a massive role model for girls (and boys) across the globe. Honorable Mention: We’re a Family

8 – Cripple Creek – Season 8
It pains me to put this at number eight, but truthfully the next seven songs are all huge iconic moments and as much as I love this I’m not sure it’s really achieved that status. It is an incredible musical feat though. Having the mouth bow as the only instrumental accompaniment really makes this stand out. It’s once heard, never forgotten. This fun number that zips along at quite a lick once it gets going. It must be tough to sing, but for two talented musicians like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Jerry Nelson it’s really not a problem. Their harmonies are unsurpassed. I also like that this take on a traditional folk song doesn’t talk down to its audience. Like most folk pieces, the lyrics are a moveable feast and this version has been tidied up compared to some others, but in no way is this fully sanitized. Sesame Street is always age-appropriate, but when at its best it never panders to its younger viewers.  Honorable Mention: Pinball Number Count

7 – Sing – Season 2
After the theme song (in fact even that’s debateable) is there a Sesame Street song that’s better known than this one? Sure there are other contenders, but this really is in an elite group of Muppet mega-hits. It was written by the legendary Joe Raposo for the show’s second season, but has become a legitimate American songbook standard thanks to covers by artists such as Barbra Streisand, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr. and most notably The Carpenters. In fact, I heard their version before I even knew Sing was a Sesame Street song! It’s a simple enough piece, but that’s ultimately its biggest selling point. If this turned out to be the shows lasting legacy I’d say it’s definitely made its mark on the world. Honorable Mention: King of 8

6 – La La La – Season 3
This song is definitely the funniest on today’s rundown. I love the joke of Bert choosing to sing about lumps in his oatmeal when lollipops and laughter are also available as topics. As well as being the funniest, it’s also one of the few songs presented today that features the basic reading, writing and arithmetic curriculum that has been the cornerstone of Sesame Street for almost 50 years. The show does a great job using music to teach about letters, numbers, shapes and words. Part of the premise of Sesame Street was to use short sequences that could be repeated often to help children remember their message. Songs help to makes lessons infinitely more memorable. How many of use can only remember a fact or figure by singing something we were taught in a song at school? Honorable Mention: C is for Cookie

5 – What’s the Name of That Song? – Season 6
No songs are ever predestined to be number one on my lists, but this might be the closest it’s ever got. I knew going into my season 6 chart that something special was going to have to come out of nowhere to depose this. It might be the catchiest thing ever performed on Sesame Street. You’ll be singing this all day now! There were countless talented songwriters working on Sesame Street during its early years, but after Joe Raposo you really have to go a long way to beat Sam Pottle (who co-wrote this with David Axlerod). His short tenure on the show as musical director was one of the show’s most creative. This song also showcases the wonderful human performers that really held Sesame Street together in the first few years. While Jim Henson and the Muppets presented fun and anarchy, the adult cast kept the show grounded and believable – they were regularly the best “straight men” on TV. Honorable Mention: Boy from Indiana

4 – Bein’ Green – Season 7
Let’s be honest. This song’s biggest crime is simply that it’s not the Kermit version. Not that there’s anything wrong that, it’s just that virtually nothing will ever beat his definitive interpretation. I say virtually nothing because it’s hard to argue that Big Bird’s rendition at Jim Henson’s memorial service isn’t as powerful and moving as anything Kermit has ever done. If you’re not familiar with it, you have to go find it right now. We’ll wait… Lena Horne is an amazing performer. She fills this song with such emotion and puts a slightly different spin on it to any other version I’ve ever heard. I must admit I’m not a fan of non-Muppet covers of this track. I’ll happily admit the much-revered Ray Charles version does nothing for me and if anything subtracts from the original rather than adds. I find Lena’s interpretation suffers from none of the issues I usually have and truly deserves to be listed amongst the best covers of Muppet songs of all time. Honorable Mention: Counting is Wonderful

3 – The Alphabet Song – Season 5
If you don’t know why this song deserves to be the third best from Sesame Street’s first 10 years then I don’t know what I can say to change your mind. Never have the words “I love you” melted my heart more (that probably says more about me than this song). It’s just the perfect Muppet/child interaction. Joey is cute as a button with an infectious laugh that lights up this clip as she teases Kermit mercilessly before dealing that final killer (in a good way) blow. Meanwhile, Kermit is his usual irascible self (a quality that is often lost/overlooked). Jim beautifully walks the fine line between angry and loving – making this scene wonderfully funny and about as cute and endearing as Sesame Street has ever been or ever will be again. The fact that all this is set to the backdrop of learning the alphabet makes it even more perfect. Honorable Mention: Fat Cat

2 – Bein’ Green – Season 1
Kermit continues his dominance on this list with his very own version of his signature Sesame Street song. This really is the best version he’s ever done. Later renditions use a different arrangement that’s slightly more orchestral, but this is simple and sweet and perfect. Going back to what I mentioned about this track earlier and picking up the thread here – it’s interesting to note just how each new version of this song gives it such a different meaning. Sometimes it’s because of the way it’s sung and sometimes it’s down to the musical accompaniment, but this song can be performed as small and introspective or big and anthemic. It generally has a positive outcome, but it can be framed around feeling blue and inadequate or strong and empowered. I honestly can’t think of a song more versatile than this one. I could probably list 10 different versions right now and each would make us feel something unique. Honorable Mention: Sesame Street Theme

1 – A Song from Kermit – Season 9
Having appeared in a huge chunk of today’s songs, I guess it’s only fair that Kermit gets the number one spot. I suppose the only real question was which of his bits would win out. This has come out on top because it resonates the most with me personally. Bein’ Green might be hugely versatile, but this talks to me (and I’m sure many, many others) because we all have that one person we’d like to talk with again. Perhaps they are simply away from home or maybe fate has conspired to keep you apart in other ways, but whatever the reason you just want to tell them how you feel. This song explains that situation perfectly. Sesame Street has never shied away from tackling big subjects and emotional themes. A character like Kermit who has a life away from the show and can therefore be portrayed in a worldlier manner is ideal for this kind of thing, showing just why he was a perfect fit for the show. Several other Muppets have sung similarly thoughtful songs, but none can do so in quite the same way Kermit can. As I hit my final song, this piece illustrates just how varied and all-encompassing Sesame Street can be when at its very, very best. Honorable Mention: The Gypsy

When I started this series of charts I had three main aims. The first was to showcase the early years of Sesame Street that had been missed from my yearly charts (which started in 1976), the second was to learn more about the show myself and the third was to let other Muppet fans who perhaps weren’t around in the 70’s see just why Sesame Street was (and is) so groundbreaking it deserves a place in TV history. I hope I have achieved all three. Over the last few months I have featured 100 of the best Muppet/Henson songs you’ll ever hear, with countless others on the cutting room floor. For this consistent level of quality I now have to say a super-large Thank You to every performer, songwriter, musician, crewmember, writer, producer, director, best boy, dolly grip, Honker, Duckie and Dinger (let’s just say everyone) who contributed to the first 10 years of our favorite educational street-based show. You all have left a legacy that can never be replaced in our hearts or those of the children of the world. Thank You.