Jarrod Fairclough – With Kieran away this week, I’ve taken it upon myself to do an Unofficial Top 10 chart, my first in a long time. And I’ll tell you now, I don’t know how he does it every week, because it’s hard enough coming up with a topic, let alone finding 10 songs that fit!
You know who I love? The Muppet performers. You know what else I love? When they sing together. You know what I love the most? When they sing with themselves.
Yes, there are rare occassions out there where a song involves at least 2 characters being performed by the same person. Voiced, anyway, it’s not like these performers have 4 arms and two mouths to be able to do both at once. That would be terrifying. So today I’ve found 10 songs where Muppet performers are harmonizing with themselves. I’ve also cheated once or twice. DON’T YOU JUDGE ME!
10 – Do De Rubber Duck – Sesame Street
Three Jim Henson’s, 2 Jerry Nelson’s, 2 Kevin Clash’s
So I consider this one cheating, as you never really hear multiple characters performed by one person at the same time, at least not in a way that is distinguishable. It was a rare occurance to see Kermit and Ernie together on Sesame Street, something I’m not sure happened again until this press conference in New Zealand a few months back. Both voices are similar enough that you can tell they’re being performed by the same guy, but are different enough that I’ve never confused the two when I’ve only heard their voices. This is also one of my favorite Sesame Street moments, and this song gets stuck in my head a few times a year, even if I haven’t heard it in a long time.
9 – In Your Imagination – Sesame Street
Many Kevin Clash’s
Okay, so this one is cheating as well, because while Hoots and Wolfgang make cameos, they aren’t singing – instead Elmo harmonizes with many versions of himself. Originally this one was going to be disqualified, but then two things happened – 1) I realized Kevin had recorded the track multiple times, meaning it isn’t just 1 track layed over itself to achieve a duet, and 2) I couldn’t find any other songs I liked – Hey, I said don’t judge me! Elmo is a divisive figure in the Muppet world. Some people hate him. Some people love him – I’m in the latter camp. Not only do I see his presence as a necessity, but the little fella makes me laugh. This is a sweet song I would love to see redone with modern technology, and I have to say – I miss Hoots!
8 – I Think That It Is Wonderful – Sesame Street
2 Frank Oz’s
You’ll find as we head down this chart that Frank Oz is going to dominate a lot of it. It might be because he had such a way with these characters that all of them are still fan favorites. Here we get Cookie Monster and Bert, alongside Herry, Prairie and Ernie, all singing along about that they enjoy with their 5 senses as they get ready for bed. My niece has the storybook version of this (yes, I bought it for her) and I used to sing it to her, attempting all the voices. My Prairie needs work!
7 – Sing In The Shower – Sesame Street
2 Caroll Spinney’s
Aside from Ernie and Bert, Oscar and Big Bird are the two longest recurring Muppets on television at the moment. Big Bird might arguably be one of the most famous children’s characters of all time. The two of them always had such a strange dynamic. They were hardly together, for obvious reasons, but when they were they had a certain kinship, and that all stems from the heart of the legend that is Caroll Spinney. And Caroll had a certain cadence in his voice when performing each character, that when you heard them seperately you wouldn’t notice, but when put together is almost perfect harmony, and is super pleasing to the ears.
6 – Girls Of The World – Sesame Street
2 Fran Brill’s
While both Stephanie D’Abruzzo and Jennifer Barnhart are doing tremendous jobs with Prairie and Zoe respectively, there’s just something so comforting about hearing Fran Brill’s voice come out of both their mouths. Fran performed Prairie for well over 40 years, and Zoe for more than 20. In a show that in it’s earlier days had an issue with equality in character genders, it’s refreshing to see that from the mid to late 90’s, female Muppets became a bigger presence on Sesame Street, and a lot of that has to do with Fran being a pioneer. This is such an important song for young girls to hear, and in the current climate, I truly think Sesame should re-record it, and release it again, so that the kindergarteners have their own anthem.
5 – I Whistle A Happy Tune – Sesame Street
3 Frank Oz’s
While technically only 2 Frank Oz’s sing in this clip, the young boy at the end makes it 3. This is all the way back from 1970, the premiere episode of Season 2 – what a long way we’ve come! Both Grover and Cookie Monster are two of the shows most beloved creations, so seeing their early days, especially together, is a real treat. These two have always had an interesting dynamic, something that’s only been enhanced now that they’re being performed by seperate performers, but what Frank made with both of them is unparalleled in the Muppet world. Their voices are oddly similar, but at the same time vastly different. And it goes together so well that this wasn’t their only pairing.
4 – Take A Rest – Sesame Street
3 Frank Oz’s
This isn’t even the last Cookie/Grover pairing you’ll be seeing today! This time they’re joined by Bert, as they relax on holiday together in paradise. Listening to this song again for this chart, it’s clear now that Grover’s voice is the perfect mixture of Cookie’s and Bert’s. And yet no 3 of them ever come close to dipping in to each others, which is a real testement to Frank. Now I want to see a holiday comedy featuring these 3 together.
3 – Pigeons and Cookies and Trash – Sesame Street
2 Frank Oz’s
Another 2 Frank Oz’s, this time Cookie and Bert, alongside Oscar. Cookie and Bert have rarely had much to do with each other, besides these couple of songs. Why is that? They’ve got 2 different performers these days, so that’s not an issue. Is it because in the early days they didn’t get paired up, so now there’s no established dynamic? I’m not even sure what their dynamic would be. Their obsessions are a good way to bring them together, and the added bonus of Oscar is a nice touch. Of course nowadays, Bert and Oscar are both being performed by Eric Jacobson! Also, did you notice the hand holding Bert for the first 45 seconds? How did that go unnoticed?
2 – Fuzzy and Blue (And Orange) – Sesame Street
2 Frank Oz’s, 2 Jerry Nelson’s
This is the song that sparked the idea for this entire article – 2 performers doing 4 characters, which is impressive in itself. Then you consider that Cookie and Herry are live handed puppets, meaning there’s 6 puppeteers performing 4 characters voiced by 2 people. That sounds like one of those old math equations, doesn’t it? It’s another instance of Grover and Cookie, the third on this list, and Jerry is pulling double duty with Herry and Frazzle. Jerry was without a doubt the franchises best singer, and even as Frazzle he still manages to hit the notes.l
1 – I Hope That Something Better Comes Along – The Muppet Movie
2 Jim Henson’s
It wasn’t until I was halfway through writing this chart that I realized that 9 of the 10 songs were from Sesame Street. So it’s only right that Number 1 come from the other side of the coin, The Muppets, and it’s only right to have the 2 characters in question be by Jim Henson. Not only that, but these were two of Jim’s longest running characters, both predating The Muppets as we know them, which means this really is two old friends singing together. Jim was never the voice chameleon that say someone like Jerry Nelson was, or like Matt Vogel is, but these two voices were so distinct from each other it’s amazing they came from the same voice box. This song is a fan favorite for a reason, and it’s clear to see how much Jim was enjoying himself.
So there we have it! 10 songs with performers pulling double, sometimes even triple duty on characters. As Kieran likes to do, let’s do a little number break down, shall we?
9 songs were from Sesame Street
2 songs feature Kermit
5 songs feature multiple Frank Oz’s
All 5 of those have Cookie Monster in them
All that’s left to do now is to thank all the performers for what they do. Doing one character at a time is difficult enough, but to do multiple and have them harmonize together is no easy feat!
Kieran will be back next week, so sit tight, folks!