Today’s post was written by Kieran Moore, who compiled over 150 Top Ten lists for The Muppet Mindset.
With my spiritual online home The Muppet Mindset no longer in existence, my top 10 songs of 2021 chart was destined to just be head canon (did somebody say cannon?). After having written about every year since the mid-70s, was 2021 finally going to be where it all ended? Nearly, but I refused to give up! Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered I fought my way to the ToughPigs castle beyond the Fansite City to write the list that was denied a place on the internet. They had no power over me!
And then after my begging became embarrassing for all of us they graciously offered to publish this article. At least that’s approximately how it happened…
2021 was an amazing year to be a Muppet/Henson fan. The Muppet Show finally came to streaming! Sesame Street and Muppet Babies continued to push the envelope in pre-school entertainment! Kermit the Frog briefly became Kermit the Snail! But above all 2021 was a marquee year for the Muppets because they rocked the world! Barely a moment went by when the Muppets or Sesame Street weren’t hitting the headlines. We’ve seen fans online say the heyday is over – the Muppets aren’t relevant anymore. 2021 proved otherwise. To see The Muppet Show, Muppet Babies and Sesame Street ruffle feathers simply by doing what they do best proves they are doing it correctly. The Muppets are smashing the system! (At least the ones that don’t drink Wilkins Coffee…)
Anywho… There were so many fantastic songs from the last 12 months to go through (I legitimately spent a whole morning on just Muppet Babies) that it didn’t feel right not to include the songs I ranked from 20-11 as well so here’s a quick rundown of those that almost made the cut…
20 – That’s Home – Furry Friends Forever: Elmo Gets A Puppy
19 – Jingle Bells – Michael Buble’s Christmas in the City
18 – Friends By My Side – Muppet Babies
17 – Rainbow Connection – This is Me
16 – Puppy Dog Blues – Muppet Babies
15 – Happier Than Ever – Sesame Street
14 – If You Stick To It – Muppet Babies
13 – Blue Felt Moose – The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo
12 – Rest In Peace – Muppets Haunted Mansion
11 – See Us Coming Together – Coming Together
(N.B. – If anyone can find a better name for a song than “Blue Felt Moose” you win my undying admiration.) And now without further ado, I present the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the pinnacle of puppet performances – it’s the official top 10 songs of 2021!
10 – You Make My Dreams Come True – The Masked Singer
If there was a more genius moment of meta Muppet mayhem this year I don’t know what it was. Having Kermit on The Masked Singer was inspired. I now want a whole season of just fictional characters. Doctor Who as Hourglass; Hannibal Lector as Wine Bottle, Oscar the Grouch as Banana Peel…Let’s make it happen! What a shame Kermit “croaked” early. We lost so much potential.
9 – Friends With A Penguin – Sesame Street
Billy Porter and a penguin – what else do you need in life? Billy looks amazing – his publicity shot on the stoop of 123 Sesame Street is all kinds of excellent. He and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph are rocking out together beautifully. Pure class!
8 – Rubber Duckie – The Not-Too-Late Show With Elmo
A wonderful, relaxing take on a classic Sesame Street song that shows Muppet covers don’t need to be carbon copies. Leslie Odom Jr’s voice sounds like oozy caramel and I want to get me a spoon.
7 – Crazy Little Thing Called Love – The Queen Family Singalong
So many of these “chuck-a-Muppet-and-a-celebrity-together” type performances fall flat, but this is great. A smart song choice and a fun performance elevate this beyond the norm. For Muppet fans it’s fun to see Piggy back on a bike and I think that throughline gives more context and is ultimately why this succeeds.
6 – Tie the Knot Tango – Muppets Haunted Mansion
This is arguably Pepe at his absolute best. Taraji P. Henson and Bill Barretta have undeniable chemistry and I’d like to think this song (optimistically) is enough to put to bed any complaints that Pepe didn’t deserve his place in this special. I love that Muppets are still leaning into the comedy gold that can be mined from characters talking nonsense words. Sometimes the old ones really are the best!
5 – I Am Somebody (Giant) – Coming Together
To think that Sesame Street caught criticism in 2021 for sharing the message that pride in ourselves can make us stronger as a community is mindblowing. A great message told in a massive earworm of a song – modern Sesame Street at its finest.
4 – Dancing in The Moonlight – Muppets Haunted Mansion
The Electric Mayhem are always great value and fantastic here. Although their presence in Muppets Haunted Mansion was basically an extended cameo they still got to shine in this end credits moment. My only wish would be that this was an original song – I’d love to hear them get spoopy on their own merits.
3 – Every Life is Like A Story – Muppet Babies
Sadly there doesn’t seem to be a good version of this song that’s easily shareable, but I implore you if you have access to check it out on the episode “It’s Not Easy Being Greeny” on Disney+. In my opinion the songwriting on Muppet Babies is every bit as good as that on the original Fraggle Rock – how cool is it that I (finally) get to say “original” about Fraggle Rock? So many messages are set to music in such a variety of musical styles on Muppet Babies that it’s impossible not to be reminded of the genius of Balsam and Lee. This is a sweet song that talks about the circle of life and is very reminiscent of the Fraggle classic Just A Dream Away.
2 – Life Hereafter – Muppets Haunted Mansion
Is there anything better than a big Muppet production number? This is Kermit and Co. doing what they do best and doing it in style. The lyrics are distributed perfectly so that every line is performed by a character that actually makes sense to who they are. I honestly can’t remember when was the last time a big Muppet number on the same scale happened. We’re Doing a Sequel? Cabin Fever? Speaking of the latter – the very end of this song is hugely reminiscent of the end of Cabin Fever. I can’t unhear it. This song only loses marks for trying to throw too much into the pot. The Be Our Guest parody felt all at once both super-light and labored and once you throw in references to the Haunted Mansion itself and The Muppet Show there’s just a lot going on. Still great though.
1 – Mr. Blue Sky – Dear Earth
Once again Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem hit the top spot! They’ve now taken pole position on 5 of the last 8 yearly charts. That’s an amazing feat for a group we don’t actually see that often. It’s also wonderful as the full group includes pretty much all the main Muppet performers and I get to honor them equally. Mr. Blue Sky channels the Mayhem’s Muppet Show performances, but also the best of the YouTube shorts we’ve come to know them for more recently. If we can continue to get one-off videos like this I’ll be very happy. Not to rag on it unnecessarily, but it also shows how good Muppets Now could’ve been with music sequences included.
So that’s 2021! What a great year for Muppet music. It genuinely has been wonderful. There have been years in the past where simply finding 10 Muppet songs has been difficult. This year it’s narrowing it down that has been tough! So I have to just sign off with a quick “Thanks” to those who took the time to read this (it really is lovely that people seem to enjoy my rambling Muppet thoughts), the Muppetational people at ToughPigs for letting me have a shot at the bigtime, and most importantly everyone whose work appeared on this list or in any of the shows/productions featured. You’re all awesome! If 2022 continues as it started next year I’ll be writing about “Rock” music – of both the Fraggle and Pet variety…
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