1 The Muppet Mindset: 120 Awesome Muppet Songs, Part 3

Feb 26, 2013

120 Awesome Muppet Songs, Part 3

Ryan Dosier - Our countdown of 120 Awesome Muppet Songs, presented in completely random order, continues today! Be sure to check out the first 30 songs on Part 1 and Part 2 before jumping in to the 15 we've got for you today. Remember, the song order was chosen by iTunes shuffling, which explains why there are three Fraggle Rock songs in a row (not that there's anything wrong with that). Tune up and get down!

31.   "Merry Christmas, Baby" from The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas
Oh goodness I adore this little number. Bill Barretta and Pepe have never been in better voice than they are in this classic, rocking Christmas tune. Pepe is clearly in yuletide heaven as he sings with a backup chorus of girls. This song is so perfect and fitting for everyone's favorite King Prawn. It's a crying shame that Pepe doesn't get to sing more, because when he does, he absolutely kills it. Favorite lyrics: "Santa came down the chimney, half past three/With lots'a little presents for my babies and me!"

32.   "Fun is Here to Stay" from Fraggle Rock
Brace yourselves, we've got four songs from Fraggle Rock in Part 3. Blame the shuffling iTunes! Anyway, "Fun is Here to Stay" is both an exceptionally accurate title for the song and a magnificent motto for Fraggle Rock as a whole. Led by Boober's alter-ego Sidebottom as he manipulates Junior Gorg into thinking he's a Fraggle, the four other Fraggles join in as well. It's rollicking and joyful and uplifting and great. Favorite lyrics: "Fraggles come for fun from near and far/Fraggles know that fun is what they are!/No one could be dumb enough to say/Fun could come in any other way/Any Fraggle's brave enough to say--Fun is here to stay!"

33.   "Petals of the Rose" from Fraggle Rock
This song is so incredibly beautiful. With this song alone, Jerry Nelson shows unequivocally that he is the greatest singer the Muppets ever had. Gobo's heart-wrenching lyrics and the melodic ups and downs of his voice are just pure perfection. This is the song that made me cry the first time I listened to it after Jerry passed away last year. It's so fitting and it will break your heart every single time. I still tear up listening to it. I probably always will. Favorite lyrics: "Ain't it just the way it seems/We pull the petals off our dreams/Our hearts can say we're here to stay/But we always say goodbye/We always say goodbye..." 

34.   "Wemblin' Fool" from Fraggle Rock
(Please ignore the odd YouTube video.) Another one of Gobo's best songs also happens to be one of Wembley's best too. This is a personal favorite--maybe in my top ten Muppet songs--and it was one of Jim Henson's as well. Jerry Nelson and Steve Whitmire sang this song at Jim's public memorial. The song is bouncy and lively and fun as heck. Wembley's trademark grunts are fantastic, Gobo's scatting is great, and the entire song plays perfectly every time you listen to it. Favorite lyrics: "When we're wemblin' south/We stick our feet in our mouth/And we just wemble, wemble, wemble as we ride!"

35.   "Sing After Me" from Sesame Street
If there is a more hysterical Grover sketch out there, someone please let me know. My favorite blue monster's antics and banter with Madeline Kahn in this song are top notch. Frank Oz was truly at the apex of his powers here, even cracking up a seasoned pro like Kahn. But Madeline was no straight-woman, she gives it back to Grover just as much and just as hilariously. The lyrics are sort of nonsense, but the performance makes it a true classic. My favorite lyrics actually aren't lyrics, they're just a line spoken near the end by Grover, who says, "You've got to be putting me on!" after Madeline hits an amazing note.

36.   "It's Hard to Be Humble" from The Muppet Show
This may be the most random song choice in the entire list, but this song performed by Mac Davis and Link Hogthrob on The Muppet Show is another of my favorites. The duo sings about how difficult it is to remain humble when one is as handsome and perfect as they are. It's such a defining song for Link to sing and Jim handles it deftly. For the final chorus, a bunch of Muppets join in. It's fairly ironic for Lew Zealand to sing "I can't wait to look in the mirror, 'cause I get better lookin' each day," but I love it. Favorite lyrics: "To know me is to love me/I must be a hell of a man/Oh lord, it's hard to be humble/But we're doin' the best that we can."

37.   "Dance Myself to Sleep" from Sesame Street
One of the greatest Ernie and Bert songs ever. It defines their relationship perfectly. Bert is sound asleep, but Ernie fall asleep. What does he do? A soft-shoe tap dance around his bed while playing the bugle and enjoying the company of the Boogie Woogie Sheep. This wakes Bert up, and he is just completely baffled by the whole thing. Eventually he's taken out of the room by the sheep and left outside. It's funny, it's fun, and it allows Bert to ask the immortal question, "When did sheep get tap shoes?" Favorite lyrics: "Well I'm gettin' kinda drowsy so the moment has come/To grab my Rubber Duckie while the sheep take my chum/Time to shuffle off to dream-land, got a date to keep/I'll dance myself to sleep!"

38.   "New York State of Mind" from The Muppet Show
Right now I cannot come up with a Jerry Nelson/Floyd Pepper song that I enjoy more. I truly believe that this is far and away the best version of this song ever performed--and I adore this song. Floyd sings with such soul and such longing that it is incredibly difficult to match. I'll give a shout out to Rowlf's version from Old Brown Ears is Back, but Floyd is still king. Jerry owns this song completely when he performs it. Pure perfection. Favorite lyrics: "Come down to reality and it's fine with me 'cause I let it slide/Don't care if it's Chinatown or rounded riverside/I don't have any reasons, left them all behind/I'm in a New York state of mind."

39.   "Ode to Joy" from YouTube
The new-age Beaker classic that first brought attention back to the Muppets with their hugely popular viral videos. This 2008 piece of brilliance might be Beaker's best vocal work (but don't worry, "Feelings" is coming later on the list). His obvious dedication to performing properly is a really interesting aspect to Beaker's character. He longs to be a great singer but at the end of the day he's just a squeaky red head with awful luck... and we wouldn't have it any other way. Favorite lyrics: "Mee me mee me/Me mee me mee/Me me me me mee me me."

40.   "One Small Voice" from Sesame Street
One of the most beautiful and touching songs written for Sesame Street. It has been performed a handful of times over the years, but my favorite is from Elmopalooza sung by Kenny Loggins, joined in by the kids and, more importantly, Big Bird. The lyrics are indescribably great, singing the importance of both music itself and knowing you can do anything. The music video for the song (which you can see above) makes my spirit soar every time I watch it. I dare you not to feel totally moved when Big Bird says, "Alex, you did great!" and Alex replies, so honestly, "Thanks Big Bird, I had fun!" Favorite lyrics: "No tune is too simple/No voice can be wrong/Music can come from any heart/And anyone's voice can lead the song."

41.   "Imagination" from Sesame Street
Another classic Bert and Ernie song. This beautiful tune is all about finding comfort and happiness by retreating into your own imagination and I think that's a wonderful notion. What I think makes this song truly special is that it is Bert, not Ernie, who first sings of the power of an imagination. One would think Ernie would be in touch with his imagination already, but I love that it is Bert who puts him in touch with it by singing him this song. Also... "I like big balloons!" is a line that is delivered perfectly. Favorite lyrics: "Here in the middle of imagination/Right in the middle of my mind/I close my eyes and the night isn't dark/And the things that I lose, I find."

42.   "Together Again" from The Muppets Take Manhattan
I wish that I could whistle well, if only so I could whistle the opening to this lovely tune. It's fun and pretty free-wheeling. I love the colorful vests the Muppets wear in the movie when they sing this. But mostly, this song works as a perfect reminder of the fact that the Muppets will always get back together. This is easily proven by my favorite lyrics: "I just can't imagine that you've ever been gone/It's not starting over, it's just going on./Together again, now we're here and there's no need remembering when."

43.   "Convincing John" from Fraggle Rock
It's strange to think that Convincing John was only on Fraggle Rock three times. The amount of energy and fun that Jim Henson poured into the character makes it seem like he was there constantly. John was never better than when he sang his titular song. It's fast, it's lively, it's erratic, and it's just plain awesome. Jim performed this song incredibly well and I can't imagine what a strain it must've put on his voice to sing it. And what would the song be without the Fragglettes providing back-up? I absolutely love it. Favorite lyrics: "C'mon listen to me Fraggles/With your Fraggle mouths a'waggle/You can chew a Doozer tower till you're blue/But there's a mighty day a'comin'/When the food'll hit your tummy/And you'll know that what I'm tellin' you is true!"

44.   "What's the Name of That Song?" from Sesame Street
How am I supposed to talk about this song? It just says "What's the Name of That Song?" If we don't even know the name of that song, how am I supposed to know which song to talk about?! It's confusion like this that makes this song so delightfully wicked and incredibly fun. In fact, the entire 35th anniversary DVD special What's the Name of That Song? is based around this confusion. My favorite version of this Sesame classic is probably from Bert & Ernie Sing-Along with the whole cast, but I also love the more recent version that Bert and Ernie sing. Favorite lyrics: "I've heard it said with words and music, a fella can't go wrong/So la de da de dum, la de da de dum... What's the name of that song?"

45.   "Just a Dream Away" from Fraggle Rock 
This is one of the few songs on this list that is sung by a one-shot character. In this case, it's the Mudbunny, who appears to Wembley in an episode of Fraggle Rock. Performed by Richard Hunt, this creature had a very interesting life cycle that played out in the episode. Before all that, however, the Mudbunny sings this gorgeous, much too short song. Richard Hunt's voice has never sounded better than it does here. He sings with such mystery and even some omnipotence. It's gorgeous. Favorite lyrics: "Once I wasn't here and then I suddenly appeared/And now I seem to be at home in earth and air/Just like water flowing, I know where I'm going/Look beneath your boots and I'll be there."

Well that's it for today, Muppet fans! Check back next week, same time, same place, for 15 more tunes on our countdown of 120 Awesome Muppet Songs!





The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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