My Top 10 Sesame Street Songs

It took me awhile not only to write this Top 10 list but to decide what it would be this month. I have a long list of future Top 10 lists, and I try to vary them up, but none of them were jumping out as the one to do. It was a conversation that took place on the very last day of May that made me choose this one from that list. The weather was getting better, and maybe it was that sunny day which swept the clouds away that ultimately inspired me.

That’s right! We’re going to Sesame Street this month! It was an influential show in my childhood, and I’m convinced I learned how to read watching it. Seriously. Supposedly the speech therapist in my elementary school wanted to work with me because I had a New York accent (instead of the oh so better Boston accent?). If you’ve heard my Bostonian family speak, you know I didn’t get a New York from them, so I can only assume I got it from Sesame Street, which was taped in New York.

Well, here we go with the list. I’m discounting the iconic theme song because of its ubiquity, but you’ll find some old standards and hidden gems. I’m awfully fond of some songs that people may not remember. Don’t worry, the signature songs of your favorite characters at least get Honorable Mention on this list.

 

#10 – I Love Trash

We start off with everyone’s favorite crankypants, Oscar the Grouch. He lives in a garbage can just outside 123 Sesame Street and pretty much dislikes and complains about everything. But there is one thing he likes—one thing he loves. Trash! I love the subversion there that the character who hates everything sings passionately about the one thing he loves. The alliteration and rhymes in the song are clever, as he likes “anything dingy or dirty or dusty” and “anything ragged or rotten or rusty,” making this a fun one to sing along to.

 

#9 – Rubber Ducky

Another signature song, this one going to the beloved, fun-loving Ernie. He loves his bath time with the titular “little fellow who’s cute and yellow and chubby.” It’s super catchy, and the goal of the song was to help kids think bathing could be fun. After all, many kids scream and avoid baths like the plague. I’m sure many parents sang this song to their kids at bath time. But it’s easily adaptable to be about a favorite doll or stuffed animal—or any other best friend, it’s true!

 

#8 – ABC-DEF-GHI

This one can be considered Big Bird’s signature song. He happened into an elementary school classroom and noticed the letters of the alphabet above the chalkboard. Thinking it’s a word, he sings it straight out. As a young boy, I was fascinated by big words, both real and made up, like antidisestablishmentarianism and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I love Big Bird’s conviction that abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz is a word, no matter how QR it gets in the middle. Looking back, I find it funny that Big Bird obviously has the reading skills to sound out the letters in this obscure word, yet he doesn’t recognize the letters in their proper alphabetical order.

 

#7 – Telephone Rock

This one’s really obscure. A long-floppy-haired Muppet guy goes into a telephone booth (what’s that?) and dials the operator to sing about making a phone call. He has back-up singers too, who pop up in time for the rocking chorus—all four of them stuck in the telephone booth! The operator isn’t too thrilled about what she perceives is a crank call. The scene for this song culminates with the police coming and taking the hooligans away—literally taking them away. The cop picks up the booth and carries it off. Now, that rock rock rock rock rocks!

 

#6 – Somebody Come and Play

Joe Raposo wrote a lot of wonderful songs for Sesame Street, and a few make this list, but this is one of the nicest. All kids want to do is be kids and play. This song wants that simple request fulfilled. As an adult, it brings me back to a simpler time, back when my friends and I would be outdoors all afternoon—our parents insisted upon it—instead of inside playing video games on phones. I wish we could go back to those old days when kids would safely roam free in towns or playing in the woods, simply using their imaginations. Sigh.

 

#5 – Bein’ Green

Green has always been my favorite color, for as long as I can remember, but that’s not what makes the song so good. It’s Kermit the Frog singing melancholically about why it’s not easy being green. But it’s about more than the color of Kermit’s Muppet felt; it’s a song about learning to be comfortable in your own skin. It’s truly one of the most touching and poignant songs ever featured on Sesame Street, and it became Kermit’s signature song.

 

#4 – I Want a Monster To Be My Friend

Here’s another obscure song, which I remember from my childhood when I had an album of songs sung by the monsters of Sesame Street. This one, sung by sweet little Prairie Dawn, stood out. Maybe it’s the shift in the music, as it starts nice and childish but then goes into full-fledged diva belting as she demands a monster. During my sophomore year in high school, I lip-synced this song in the school talent show and got the first standing ovation of the night. Don’t know why this one resonated so much, but it did, and it makes the list.

 

#3 – Would You Like To Buy an O?

The Muppets were always a little subversive. Yes, they’re cute to appeal to young children, but there was always a tinge of humor that would make the adults laugh. This was definitely true on The Muppet Show but didn’t so obviously get featured in Sesame Street. Yes, they’d parody songs or celebrities, but here they take things to the street. A Muppet guy in a trenchcoat whispers “Hey, Bud” to Ernie (featured again!), and then—like a drug dealer or someone selling stolen watches or other goods—he takes the letter O out of his coat and tries to get Ernie to buy it. Not sure if this would fly as well today, but then (and now), it’s very funny.

 

#2 – I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon

I don’t remember this one from when I was a child, and I think it was written after I left elementary school. I didn’t hear it until college; one of the freshman who lived next door to me senior year was a big Sesame Street and Muppets fan, and she had a compilation album or two. Here’s Ernie yet again appearing on this list, singing about adventures he’d like to go on, but none of them permanently. It’s a beautiful song about the comfort of the friends and family of home. Even now, it still gets me a little choked up.

 

Before I get to MY FAVORITE SESAME STREET SONG, here are five Honorable Mentions:

Doin’ The Pigeon – Bert gets down doing his signature dance. He’s his happiest here, at least for a little smidgeon.

Has Anybody Seen My Dog? – Though I’m not much of a dog person, you can feel Marty’s despair as he asks Grover for help finding his pet.

Little Things – A bittersweet sounding song but with a great message that the little things—like children—are often the most meaningful.

La La La – Ernie and Bert sing about their favorite objects beginning with the letter L, and the contrasts (lollipops & laughter vs. lentil soup & linoleum) is ludicrously laughable!

C is for Cookie – There’s not much to this song musically, but it’s about my all-time favorite snack, so that’s good enough for me!

 

And finally…

#1 – THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF W LOVERS

Yes, this one is very obscure, but I love it above all the others. Maybe it’s the silly concept: Bert and a bunch of other Anything Muppet friends are holding their regular meeting to discuss their profound love for the letter W. Bert leads them in their association song, and his droll voice actually works well in this case as he sings his praises for the letter and words that begin with it. But what elevates this song to Number One status for me is when he starts singing about what words would be without the letter. The words chosen as examples are hysterical, but it comes down to this line: “A fine word like waffle would turn out just awful.” Brilliant and WEIRD and WILD and WONDERFUL!

 

And that’s the top ten! Ten wonderful Sesame Street songs! Cue the Count’s thunder and lightning.

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