7 Best Muppets Musical Moments
Posted on: 14/09/2015
It's official - The Muppets Take ACMI next week! #themuppetstakeacmi
To celebrate our film program Muppets, Music and Magic: Jim Henson's Legacy, our exclusive Henson Masterclass, Henson Kids' Flicks and Muppet inspired workshops, we've pulled together a list of sensational Muppet musical moments.
The Muppets have fostered generations worth of love with their whacky stage antics, adorable storytelling and hilarious skits. It'd be almost impossible to name all the famous actors, musicians and icons who have shared a moment with Jim Henson's creations. First lady Michelle Obama even dropped into Sesame Street to discuss the importance of breakfast!
However an outing with The Muppets wouldn't be complete without some of their signature musical numbers. Whether it be parody, a lesson about a letter of the alphabet, or the importance of opposites, the family of fuzzy and kooky creatures (along with collaborators) seem to be able to find a rhythm that marches to the beat of everyone's drum.
1. Sesame Street: Patti Labelle Sings The Alphabet
When the incomparably talented Patti Labelle made a visit to Sesame Street in 1998 and sang her Alphabet Song, almost every muppet in the neighbourhood turned up to have a gospel-inspired sing-a-long. And boy do they take it to church!
If you didn't know your ABCs before, you certainly will now.
2. Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody
You may remember the viral video of The Muppets singing Queen's anthem Bohemian Rhapsody, but for the uninitiated:
Upon working on the project Brian May, lead guitarist of Queen, said:
"Once the idea for this recording came up, we did supply 'stems' of our own original backing track to the Muppets, so that they could effectively 'sing' with Queen. We don't often do this - it's only because of our respect for these people as artists that we'd do this. I'm sure Freddie would feel the same way... some projects are just worthy of a proper collaboration. So... yes... you are hearing us play on this track - including Freddie's magnificent piano track, of course. I think it makes it all the more funny!"
And in true Muppets style, the punchline at the end absolutely nails it.
3. "C" is for Cookie
Cookie Monster's fabled "C" is for Cookie first aired in 1971 and since then has had numerous remakes. But why is this song featuring a blue monster singing about sweet snacks so loved?
If we take a wide lens view: perhaps it has to do with the piece emerging during a time of cultural, societal and political change in the US. The 60s offered a bruising blockbuster of a decade, filled with radical protest and experimentation. This idealism was quelled in the 70s and, after a decade of a more optimistic America seeking change, a more skeptical conservative USA filled the void. A song about cookies fits snuggly into this national shift offering us a more typically wholesome, traditional past time - baking and eating cookies.
If we take a Cookie Monster is awesome view: it's probably to do with nostalgia, kids loving cookies and Cookie Monster smashing treats like a boss. Either way, it's good enough for us.
4. Rubber Duckie
Bathtime is a notoriously dark moment in a parent's day if your child resists all attempts to enforce a minimal level of hygiene upon them. Rubber Ducky, staring Sesame Street's own Ernie, reminds kids that bath time is fun aquatic playground filled with everything you love.
Striking a chord with more than just kids, the song also enjoyed popular fame reaching number 16 on Billboard's 'Hot 100 Singles' chart in 1970. Ernie even released a Spanish-language version and sang the song as 'El Patito' released on the album ¡Sesame Mucho!
One of the cutest duets out there, Rubber Duckie is a Muppets classic.
5. The Muppet Show - Sound of Music Skit
It doesn't get much better than Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music, beautiful set design, and humour infused with that wonderful Muppet whimsy.
An interesting take away from this episode of the Muppet Show is how at ease Julie Andrews is with the muppet cast while singing The Lonely Goatherd. Some of the more famous guests on the show appear to be a little unsure of how to interact with the Muppets. The magic occurs when they manage to suspend disbelief - when you forget a human is talking to a piece of felt directed by someone’s hand. Julie Andrews makes us believe, even while singing, and it really makes the whole show shine.
6. Sesame Street: Feist sings 1,2,3,4
One thing The Muppets do exceptionally well is recreate and mirror popular culture. Obviously the Muppet Show delivered fantastic satire and mined contemporary art and current affairs expertly, however Sesame Street doesn't miss a beat either.
This goregous recreation of Feist's hit song 1,2,3,4 is a prime example. Watching the breathtaking original and then the remake, you can see just how true the Sesame Street version stays to the artist's music video in the warehouse space.
Original music video (doing this dance with a big group of friends is highly recommended):
Unapologetically adorable Sesame Street re-do:
7. It's Not Easy Being Green
And of course, no Muppet music list would be complete without this little number.
It's Not Easy Being Green, sung by Muppet superstar Kermit, is one heck of an emotional ballad. He bears his soul and his insecurities while reasoning that it's okay to be different. A lesson to the very young and the older, it's our differences that should be celebrated and not lamented.
From 21 September until the 11 October #themuppetstakeacmi!
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