When I was a kid, my parents got me a kid-sized Fischer Price record player and a handful of records. I sat in my room, night after night, and listened to "It’s Not Easy Being Green" over and over. It was the first million hit single in my house, and it still means more to me than just about any other song in the world. As The Muppets reboot (again) for their ABC primetime sitcom, here is a throw back to nine classic muppet moments that have stood the test of time.
9. The Original Muppet Show Theme Song
Striking chords of joy in family living rooms around the world, the original theme song to The Muppet Show is tough to beat. The song changed slightly over the show’s five seasons, but the basic gist remained the same. Start the music. Light the lights. Muppets in windows. Victory and applause.
8. The ABC’s
Simple. Elegant. Diversity programming before diversity was even a thing.
7. Keep Believing, Keep Pretending
Life’s like a movie, guys. Write your own ending. This one goes out to all the lovers, the dreamers and, of course, to you. The muppets were put on earth not to tell their own stories, but to remind us to tell our own. This song closed out The Muppet Movie, which was their first feature film. The final shot features nearly every muppet puppet that had been ever created, 250 characters in all orchestrated by 137 puppeteers, including Tim Burton.
6. Animal has Rita Moreno Fever
Rita Moreno appeared on The Muppet Show multiple times. She is also the only Hispanic person to win an EGOT: that’s Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Plus, no list of muppet moments would be complete without a shout ut to Animal. He may not get the most screen time of any of the muppets, but he certainly makes the most of his screen time when he does. Wo-man! Look out.
5. Steve Martin’s Cameo in The Muppet Movie
Click in at about 30 seconds. Steve Martin is one of the indisputable kings of comedy, and this is him at his best. Muppet reaction shots on fleek, and Martin’s sarcasm is anyone who’s ever worked in the service industry’s dream come true. The jokes are simple, but perfect. “May we have straws, please?” not to mention the sippy sounds that come with. The scene is genius, and leads right into…..
4. Rowlf The Dog, I Hope That Somethin’Better Comes Along
There are actually two verses to the song, which you can hear in Matt Nathanson’s extended cover of it on Muppets: The Green Album, but only the first verse made it into the movie. Since both Rowlf and Kermie were voiced by Jim Henson, it was rare for the two of them to appear together in a scene.
3. Kermie and Piggy Ride Bikes
This gem comes from The Great Muppet Caper, which came out in 1981. The scene was nearly impossible to make, and involved puppeteers on cranes, among other cool tricks of the trade. Shooting muppet movies was notoriously slow going. The Muppet Movie took 87 days of shooting to lock in 90 minutes of film. In this scene, puppeteers not only had to keep the muppets on their bikes while moving forward, they also had to synch up the motion of their feet on the pedals with the music. Tricky? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
2. Mahna Mahna
So good, it made it into the trailer for the new ABC show. It is easily their most popular song, and it has the staying power to keep you up at night trying to get it out of your head. The song was originally written by composer Piero Umilani for an Italian documentary about life in Sweden, the Muppets made it a hit when they performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969. I’m going to go make it my ringtone now, because it’s just that f-ing good.
1. The Rainbow Connection
AKA the opening credits to The Muppet Movie. The song is now used as a test to distinguish human beings from robots, as no human can resist this song’s emotional charm. Not really, but it totally could be. To capture this iconic frog-on-a-log shot, Jim Henson sat under the water, submerged in a specially designed tank with an oxygen supply and a monitor to see what Kermit looked like from above. The song got a nomination for an Academy Award in 1980, for writers Kenneth Ascher and Paul Williams.