Thursday, December 22, 2005

S'pose It's Time for Another Ridiculous Top Ten List

This time - Best Schoolhouse Rock song and video combo. For any of you Interplanet Janet-types out there, of which I'm sure there are few and far between, you may as well keep surfing because no Science Rock makes the list. In fact, none of them come close. That leaves American Rock, Grammar Rock, and Multiplication Rock to claim the list for themselves. Unlike the Christmas Special list I wrote earlier, this one I consider far more subjective. Certainly, my favorite will probably be a surprise, even to the people that know me, and narrowing my list to ten proved tough. Some that I would have considered favorites and sure top-tenners didn't make the list. I'm sure people may quibble with Lolly, Lolly, Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here, Elbow Room, The Great American Melting Pot, and Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla not making the list. Hopefully, everyone will thank me for not including the heavily overplayed (on Saturday mornings in my youth) Figure Eight with the skater girl carving circles into my TV screen. Continuing, here we go with number ten.

10) A Noun Is a Person, Place, or Thing: Including this one over Lolly really hurt. In fact, I'd like to weasel out and claim the ten spot was a tie, but if I have to go with one, it's this one. Let's all stroll down memory lane. This little jingle had the white-haired girl with the short skirt singing about our persons, places, and thing-a-ma-jigs. Mrs. Jones, her dog, Chubby Checker, and the Beatles all had cartoon cameos. And it ended with the chick and her beau taking a ferry to the Statue of Liberty in the snowy summer of New York. The upbeat jingle-jangly tune could get stuck in your head very, very easily, and I've heard radio station morning shows use this tune very effectively. Good tune, good video. And score one for Grammar Rock.

9) Verb: That's What's Happening: That's right: I get my thing in action. Score two for Grammar rock - see a trend? Let me set the record straight about my rankings, if the videos showed sports in them, they probably made the list. That's just the kind of kid I was/am. And let me not forget my whole superhero fetish. So as the little boy's running around to do, to make, to hop, to skip, to jump, to run and the tune is getting stronger, and he's dreaming about himself as a stud-man superhero with a baseball bat in hand, as a kid, I was digging this video. And then the whole Casey at the Bat scene at the climax, but this time the superhero-boy-man comes through, I was having to cheer, to scream, to pump, my fist, to laugh, to go, rah rah with everyone else in the video. Then, as the video is closing the little boy goes home after the flick to his mother and gives her the big, fat hug as the words scream: TO LUUUUUUUUV!!!!!!!!!!!!! Too much -- not to be included on my list.

8) My Hero, Zero: Speaking of superheroes... it's not really fair for the other songs that didn't make the list, but I have a hard time getting Evan Dando and the Lemonheads version of this ditty out of my head. If you haven't heard it, well, hear it. It'll climb your list, too.

7) I'm Just a Bill: Now, this is where the whole list can be really subjective. I'd figure I'm Just a Bill could be a lot of people's favorites. Their numero uno on their personal lists. And I have to admit, this song, when it's actually being sung and not the talking parts of it, is one of the ones I sing the most in my head. The little rolled up "Bill" could easily be the logo for the whole SR collection. Plus, I always was pumped when the video came on early between The Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour and the Shazam/Isis Hour. (Not to mention that Joanna Cameron made a fine, fine Isis - uh, I digress). As I was saying, this song and video was a classic, and it makes number seven on my list.

6) Conjunction Junction: Again, a could-be fav of many people. Just as "Bill" would make a fine logo for SR, so would have the old engine conductor, who moved around his "but" with the greatest of ease. And his soliloquy in the middle of the song starting with walking the lake and the duck and the drake and ending with "but I know that's a very absurd thought" was just priceless. Additionally, I've found the conductor's advice to be quite true: and, but, and or can get you pretty far. And let me just say, isn't Jack Sheldon's voice on these little songs the coolest? I mean, Bob Dorough, Lynn Ahrens, they had some great songs their voices fit as well, but nothing like Jack Sheldon's. Totally awesome. However, don't miss the Better Than Ezra version of the song, either. It's not too bad its own self.

5) The Shot Heard Round the World: As a kid, this one was my favorite. The whole American Revolution shown in less than three minutes. Paul Revere, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, France and Spain joining, and finally Yorktown! We won! Hurray!!! This video spawned more library trips for me than just about anything else. Soon, I was into Francis Marion, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, George Washington, and watching Disney's Johnny Tremain. All cool stuff. Aside from Battle at the Alamo, the Revolutionary War held my captivation as a child more than any other war story. This song and video did it all in three minutes.

4) Three Is a Magic Number: Speaking of three, although it hits as four on the list, is this fine number. Humongous football players breaking through the tunnel with numbers divisible by three on their chest... once again, the sports impact and this time, more importantly, football - the sports king. Much like My Hero Zero, this tune benefits enormously from Blind Melon's rendition in my mind. The lyrics were really cool, too: "Somewhere in that ancient, mystic trinity"; "Faith, hope and charity"; "A man and a woman had a little baby, yes they did, they had three in the family. That's a magic number."

3) No More Kings: Three is a magic number, and No More Kings gets that place on my list. The very first SR clip I ever saw was this one, and boy has it stuck with me. The King George III cartoon figure is still etched in my brain. So are the three colonists taking their tea cups and dumping them into the Boston Harbor. Also, on a bit deeper level, the colonists start the song pledging allegiance forever to the king, but that loyalty slips away by the end of it until they're promising they'll never have a monarch again. From pilgrims to patriots, basically. When I went and bought the video pack years and years ago, it was this song more than any other one that led me to take that plunge. It was also the first one I wanted my kids to see. For me, that's pretty high praise.

2) Unpack Your Adjectives: Might be the best song of them all, and certainly the most fun to croon along to. The lyrics jut roll smoothly, the rhymes seem unforced, and the bridge in the middle of the tune makes it great. Two visuals from the video that I'll never forget. One was the boy who gets smaller getting stepped on by the girl who gets taller - as a boy, that sort of made me mad, but in retrospect, the little guy, laughing at the awkward girl, deserved it. The other was the hairy bear. The scary bear. Which made me make a hasty retreat from his lair. One of the sayings from the lyrics I've incorporated into my vocbulary - I'll plead the fifth on when I necessarily use it - is that by the turtle describing the bear, "That was one big, ugly bear!" Love it! So as you can see from my list, Grammar Rock has ruled the day. Number one does nothing to change that.

1) Interjections!: Surprise!!! I just love this video. And the song. To me, there's nothing close. Little Reginald gets his shot in the derriere and comes out reeling off the interjections. "Hey! That's not fair, givin' a guy a shot down there!" What kid doesn't love that? Then, ol' Geraldo and Geraldine, with the guy turning into a frog, "Hey, your kinda cute." Just to let everyone know, interjections are "generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point, or by a comma if the feeling's not as strong." Then, the kicker. Franklin playing in the football game, throws the TD the wrong way, losing the game. The crowd is hollering mild oaths, and then the little nerd hops up, "Hurray! I'm for de udder team!" Those exclamations turn to commas quick when the angry mob turns on the fella. Best song and video combo period. It has pain, romance, football, and some of the heartfelt words to say in the English language because they're all based on emotion.

I know, I know. I'm a moron. My list stinks. Blah, blah. Blah blah blah blah, blah blah. Blahblah. But this is it. This is the list for which I'm now on record, so it stands. And lo to the man or woman or child who attempts to knock it down. As they say in my number one:

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah... YEA!

Darn! That's the end!

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