FearlessRiOT’s Tuesday Top 10: Arthur Songs

Top 10 Arthur Songs:

Arthur is the second longest-running animated program in America, only behind The Simpsons. Think about that: an animated educational program about a talking aardvark and his anthropomorphic friends has managed to last almost two decades on television and constantly come up with fresh new episodes with 213 already in the can, and that’s not even counting the spinoff Postcards from Buster. Part of that longevity is not only in the characters they portray and the universe they’ve created; but also in the music they’ve crafted for the show as well. Throughout the series’ run, there have been many memorable songs that have been performed on the show. In fact, Arthur & Friends even released an album, 1998’s Arthur and Friends: The First Almost Real Not Live CD (or Tape). In fact, a number of the songs on this list could be heard on that album. One song that will not be featured on this list, however: the opening theme song. “Believe in Yourself” by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers has opened the show every episode since it’s run. However, I decided not to include it because I wanted to only cover songs that were performed within the realm of the show. Plus, this song is so iconic I don’t know if it’d be fair to the others.

#10. “What’s The Use of Presents” by Muffy Crosswire
Episode: Arthur’s Perfect Christmas

Muffy is the richest of the Elwood City kids, because her father can somehow create a fortune from owning one car lot. In fact, she is so rich that in Christmas morning, her stocking is as big as the tree. And that stocking is filled with lots of gifts that any little girl would be fortunate to have. Unfortunately, due to Muffy not understanding how important Hanukkah is to Francine and her family, the two have a big argument and that leaves Muffy to play with all of her gifts by herself. But she makes her feelings on this clear by singing about it. In this song, she discusses what she would do with all her toys if she got to do them with her BFF. Normally, I consider Muffy’s conceited nature irritating on this show; but it’s moments like this that allow the viewer to see another side of Muffy. We get to see a more humble side that reveals that she does value her and Francine’s friendship despite their numerous differences. Even a rich person who has everything needs someone to share it with; even R&B/soul legend Charlie Wilson wrote a song about it…OK, those were different circumstances, but you get the idea. Muffy no doubt still loves her riches, but if there’s anything she values just as much, it’s her friendship with Francine.

#9. “In My Africa” by D.W. Read, The Brain, & Chiekh
Episode: In My Africa

The most recent song on our list is a collaboration between D.W., The Brain, and the new African student in D.W.’s school, Chiekh. When Chiekh comes to the school, D.W. already has assumptions about what Africa is like, but it turns out she is completely wrong. She then wants to learn more about the continent, and decides to go about it by writing a song about Africa with the help of Chiekh and The Brain. The reason the Brain is included on this song is because he’s the boy genius of the show; also, it’s revealed in Arthur’s Perfect Christmas that his family celebrates Kwanzaa, which means that they do value and celebrate the roots of Africa and its heritage. What the three churn out is an educational beginner’s guide for those who may be uninformed about the continent. It’s basically their own version of “Yakko’s World” from the Animaniacs, but focusing on this one continent. An admirable effort from an admirable episode.

 

#8. “That’s Elwood City” by Lakewood Elementary
Episode: Elwood City Turns 100!

Arthur is one of those shows where the city is almost it’s own character. It’s landmark locations such as the Sugar Bowl and Arthur’s treehouse have been the backdrop to many a memorable scene in the show’s history. But if it hadn’t been for one Jacob Katzenellenbogan founding the town, who knows where all of this would’ve taken place. Well, the people of the time predicted no one would ever remember Elwood existed in 100 years time. It would have been a joy to see their faces 10 decades later when the students of Lakewood Elementary put on a musical to commemorate the city and closed out with this huge musical number. Francine kicks off the song with a singing voice she’s already aware is good; then the upbeat music kicks in and the children sing a love letter to the city they call home and a few of the adventures they’ve gone through. (Francine even references the pioneers from the episode where Elwood had a city-wide power outrage.) The kids even poke fun at themselves for their terrible track record against the softball team from Mighty Mountain. Even the late Mr. Roger’s gets a shoutout. This episode has other songs in it too, but this is the most memorable one by far. (OK, maybe Buster’s “Dr. Ector” song deserves a shout-out as well.)

#7. “Homework” by Nigel Ratburn
Episode: Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival

There are there things Nigel Ratburn loves in life: he loves puppets, he loves desserts, and in the later episodes, he even became enamored with technology, especially the internet. Oh yeah, and he also loves assigning heaps of homework. From the second he bought in as a third grade teacher at Lakewood, he’s earned a reputation as a very tough teacher who does not hold back. Sure, he’s much nicer when he’s not on the clock, but when he’s in the classroom, he takes his job very seriously, so much so that one of the songs on the almost live not real music festival is dedicated entirely to the fact. Mr. Ratburn congratulates the class on working hard during the school day and rewards them with one bummer of a prize in “19 chapters of history” and having to list “63 adverbs alphabetically”. And just in case you feel the need to jus scribble it all down last minute, do NOT forget that “neatness counts!” Making this song even funnier is Buster’s reaction to all of it, a.k.a. the usual reaction of anyone who has a ton of homework to do. This is a hilarious acapella song that you should be able to jam to, anti-homework or not.

 

#6. “Crazy Bus by Joe Fallon
Episode: Buster Baxter, Cat Saver/Play It Again, D.W.

D.W. Read’s favorite song aside from the “Tina The Talking Tabby” song and that mind-numbing Mary Moo Cow song that teaches you how to spell “fun”. (Those songs are so annoying that they didn’t even make the honorable mentions; do not expect to see them here). OK, so “Crazy Bus” is annoying too, but it makes the list for a couple of reasons: it’s at least a fascinating kind of annoying. The “F.U.N.” song is just a lame cow on a preschool show spelling a word and expecting us to join in; Spongebob’s “F.U.N.” song was more fun. And “Tina The Talking Tabby” is just those four words repeated until the end of time. Who’d wanna listen to that? “Crazy Bus”, on the other hand, was a legit song in the Arthur universe, and while it also has some of the stupidest lyrics ever penned, it’s catchiness is kind of addictive and the lyrics are on the verge of hilarious. Arthur may disagree because “baloony” and “bus-a-looey” are not actual words, but even he was able to rock with it when Yo Yo Ma and Joshua Redman performed it on the My Music Rules episode. Plus, the song is so iconic that it would’ve just been weird to leave it off; I know D.W. would’ve caught a fit if it wasn’t included.

 

#5. “The Ballad of Buster Baxter” by Art Garfunkel
Episode: The Ballad of Buster Baxter

I’m not familiar with the music of Art Garfunkel. He was before my time and I didn’t grow up with his music. In fact, if you asked me what my favorite Art Garfunkel song is, my answer would be “The Ballad of Buster Baxter”, which he performed all throughout the Arthur episode of the same name. After being gone from a number of episodes because he was traveling the world with his pilot father, Buster returns to find out that some things have changed in Elwood City while he was gone. Therefore, as the song goes on, things seem to get sadder, leading to him being a “sad, sad bunny”. Luckily, things pick up around the end as Buster’s friends throw a party for him and they watch his home videos together. As such, Garfunkel’s instrumentation becomes upbeat once again. The song is basically a roller-coaster ride of what is going on as Buster settles back into Elwood City after his lengthy absence. Also, Buster and Arthur being confused by Garfunkel’s presence at the end was just hilarious.

 

#4. “Jekyll & Hyde” by The Brain
Episode: Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival

II usually don’t mess with The Brain on this show. The kid born Alan Powers has an irritating habit of being a total know-it-all. Even the show is aware of this and created an entire episode dedicated to his buggy nature. Much like how Muffy is extremely spoiled, The Brain being extremely smart and often arrogant of the fact can be too much sometimes, but it’s necessary because it’s what makes his character work. And it worked so well that he got his own song on Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival. His song is a story set to pop-rock music about how he took out the Robert Louis Stevenson novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (just Doctor Jeckyll and Hyde in their universe) from the library and became so obsessed with it that he dreamed of making a potion that turns his into the wicked monster. Even after saying to himself that he wouldn’t read it again, he reads it again and dreams of turning into the monster yet again. But by the end, we’re left to wonder: “Did he make that formula for real?” Whether he did or not, this was my favorite thing The Brain has ever done on this show. The song is scary catchy and the hook will get stuck in your head.

 

#3. “Leftover’s Goulash” by Arthur, D.W., & Dave Read
Episode: Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival

“ARTHUR! D.W.! DINNER!” Set to music of Jacques Offenbach and George Bizet‘s Carmen comes a song that’s all about food. Arthur and D.W. talk about the food they do and don’t like while their father suggests they try some of his new “edible” creations. Yes, the word “edible is in quotations for a reason because they are not feeling “jellyfish inside a beet” or “garlic eels” or a “liver cake” or a “cookie fish” any other of their father’s creations that seem like he whipped it together last minute. At first I found it a bit weird because Arthur’s dad isn’t really know for making terrible food on the show; his food is usually very much loved on the show (unlike Grandma Thora’s). But for the sake of comedy, I’ll give this song a pass. This song is crazy dramatic, but that’s what makes it funny, and add to it the fact that it uses music from some of the most famous composition in history and you have a very enjoyable song that may actually make you hungry by the end. By the way, I wonder if D.W. got over her fear of dead fishes seeing as she caught a ton of fish in the Cast Away episode.

 

#2. “Nothing But The Music” by U Stink
Episode: Arthur – It’s Only Rock N Roll

In the one-hour special It’s Only Rock N Roll, Elwood City’s noisiest drummer Francine Frensky started a band (with guitarist Molly, clarinet player Binky, keyboardist Ms. McGrady, and eventual lead singer Fern) and hilariously named it U Stink. When she puts this band together, the purpose was to be a band that was about the music and not the fame. Francine hates the idea of “selling out” so much that she decided to write the band’s one and only hit song about it. And it was actually a damn catchy tune, too. “Don’t want nothing but the music, don’t need no shiny limousines,” was a declaration of Francine’s feelings on the commercialization of music and she got her point across very well with this song. Even if you don’t feel the same, you’ll probably be singing along to this one. Oh, and by the end of the special, the song received a boost via a performance of it with the Backstreet Boys. You could say that’s technically “selling out”, but another way to see it would be that the Backstreet Boys, no matter how famous they get, are also in it for the love of the music. This song would have been #1, but one song was able to bypass it for that spot.

 

#1. “Library Card” by Arthur & Friends
Episode: Arthur’s Almost Live Not Real Music Festival

No other song stood a chance. The song that bookended that Almost Live Note Real Music Festival basically demands the #1 spot, for a number of reasons, actually. First of all, that’s the perfect message for the kids; the song discusses how there is no level of difficulty or limit to the amount adventures that lie beyond the covers of a book. As an educational program, Arthur is making sure your children get some kind of productivity out of their programming. And they do that by doing another thing that makes this song so cool: rapping. This is probably up there with “Do The Bartman” and “Clint Eastwood” on the list of the best rap songs by cartoon characters. The kids bust some rhymes on the many different things that kids can read about. George prefers books on card tricks, Francine prefers sports books, Buster shines a light on books about wildlife, and Binky even shows some love to books with pictures of pretty flowers (that get crush by dinosaurs, because yeah right, Binky). The song ends with everyone singing the songs catchy hook loud and proud (except D.W., who’s just trying to figure out who this Dewey Decimal person is). If there is a song from Arthur that people remember aside from the theme song, it’s this one. This one may even convince you to pick up a book or two. Easily the best song from the show. Also, did anyone ever tell D.W. what the Dewey Decimal system is? I’m really curious to know.

Honorable Mentions:

We Stink “We Stink Song”
After being rejected for Francine’s band, Arthur and Buster decide to form their own rock band with George, combining their piano, tuba, and vocal “abilities” to create their own…..”unique” sound. Their band name is actually pretty accurate, but their song itself is a very amusing kind of bad and probably would’ve made the list if they actually ever recorded it.

Muffy and Nick Carter “Manager of My Dreams”
Muffy was dead serious about that “Having a crush on Nick Carter” thing. Until the end of the episode when her crush switched to Howie cause he gets business and whatnot. Either way, what a daydream, Muffy.

George “I’d Play This Tree To Grow”
Yeah, between the “We Stink Song” and this, it’s well documented that George isn’t a very good singer. However, he has his woodworking and imagination, so it doesn’t matter than he’d never win The Voice. At least this song has an environmentally-friendly purpose behind it.

Buster Baxter “Baxter Day”
This seems like it’d be a fun holiday. Eat breakfast, wear PJ’s all day, and go into outer space? Only Buster would think of something like this. He is perhaps the most fun character on the entire show, after all.

Arthur Read “Perfect Christmas”
This song has a nice Christmas feel as Arthur sings about what he hopes his Christmas will be like this year (hint: it didn’t go down like he expected because where’s the adventure in that?) and it’s a fine way to start the one hour Christmas special.

Mrs. Sweetwater “I Like Fudge/Why Not Smile”
This song is so ridiculous, I just wanted to mention it somewhat. I’m still confused as to how her curriculum was certified for third-grade teaching. Maybe she and Ms. Morgan should switch places.

Binky “Matalij Ja Mustii (The Binky Song)”
My research tells me that this song is performed by a real-life Finnish folk band by the name of Värttinä. It would’ve probably made the list if the Arthur version of it had any real lyrics in it. But hey, sounds like good skiing music.

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