Hey Food: 13 Hilarious Sesame Street Song Parodies

Sia performs "Big Bird's Song" on Sesame Street.
Sia performs "Big Bird's Song" on Sesame Street.
HBO

From “Sing” to “Put Down the Duckie” and beyond, Sesame Street has churned out so many hits over the last half century that even the Count would have trouble keeping track of them all. In addition to new songs scripted for the series, the classic children’s program has also generated an impressive number of song parodies, often performed by the original artists themselves. Here are 13 of the greatest and goofiest of all time.

1. “My Triangle”

James Blunt captivated melancholy teens and mainstream radio audiences around the world with his breathy ballad “You’re Beautiful” in 2005, complete with a music video in which he strips down on a snowy cliff and dives into the icy waters below (presumably to his death). While originally a little too morbid for preschoolers, Sesame Street’s version—about a long-lost triangle—replaces angel with angles and features an anthropomorphic triangle that appears after Blunt has given up hope of ever seeing his friend again. Blunt helped write the tune, sneaking a bit of cheeky geometrical jargon into the song with this line: “It must be those angles / That put a smile on your face / Not to mention the hypotenuse.”

2. “Hey Food”

With some help from The Beetles, Cookie Monster transforms The Beatles's “Hey Jude” into an endearing ode to food that might just have you relating to the manic-eyed monster more than you ever have before. Main themes of the track include not being able to choose which food you want, not being able to stop snacking, and acknowledging that food—be it “dry toast or something wetter”—always makes us feel better.

3. “Hello, Sammy!”

Carol Channing commits to this sibilant spoof with such flair that you’d think she won a Tony Award for originating the role of Dolly in Broadway’s Hello, Dolly! (she did). With lots of drawn-out S sounds and a cuddly Muppet snake named “Sammy,” the song functions as both a way to teach youngsters how to pronounce their S’s and a publicity campaign to combat the culturally prevalent idea that snakes are just plain evil.

4. “Born to Add”

“Born to Add,” performed by Bruce Stringbean and the S. Street Band, somehow manages to capture all the rock ‘n’ roll energy of desperate, working-class youth from Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and make it about simple arithmetic. The leather-clad lead singer and his cohorts stroll around the neighborhood counting cars, trash cans, and police officers, and the track culminates with a rousing sax solo by Clarice and a dance party that even the cops partake in. Stringbean also does “Barn in the U.S.A.,” which features an onomatopoeic choir of backup singers.

5. “Slimey to the Moon”

Tony Bennett’s spoof of crooner classic “Fly Me to the Moon” chronicles Slimey the worm’s astronaut training and subsequent space launch, explaining that a worm “needs to be nervy / He needs guts, and stickability / When things go topsy-turvy.” Though “Let him crawl through mud and muck / On Jupiter or Mars” might not be scientifically accurate, the idea of sending a worm into space isn’t so far out—scientists have studied them on the International Space Station to gain insight into how microgravity affects muscle anatomy.

6. “It Ain’t Heavy, It’s My Feather”

No matter what version of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” you’re listening to—the Hollies’s, Neil Diamond’s, or someone else’s—it’s likely slow, somber, and saturated with emotion. The opposite is true of Sesame Street’s rendition, an upbeat country ditty sung by an animated chicken who looks and sounds suspiciously like Dolly Parton. In it, she lists a bunch of whimsical, weighty objects she doesn’t bring on tour with her (anchors, anvils, hippopotamuses, chests of drawers, etc.) and discusses the merits of packing her feather, which—you guessed it—ain’t heavy.

7. “U Really Got a Hold on Me”

Smokey Robinson spends a good three minutes trying to maintain composure while a googly-eyed letter U with an ironclad grip and no concept of boundaries tries to hug him. In addition to swapping out You’ve in the original song for U, songwriter Christopher Cerf added a few fitting U words to illustrate the situation, including “U stands for uptight / That’s how I’m feeling / Being grabbed by a letter is unappealing.”

8. “Eighteen Sandwiches”

While you need to have undergone puberty to truly identify with Alice Cooper’s angsty anthem “I’m Eighteen,” Sesame Street’s parody is something even toddlers can understand. In the animated video, a girl tries to decide what type of sandwich to choose for lunch, dithering over “tuna, turkey, peanut butter, grilled cheese, or salami / Ham or jelly, chicken salad, chopped liver, pastrami,” and more. As our poor, conflicted heroine runs through her list of 18 options, you might find yourself wondering “What kind of home kitchen is stocked with all these ingredients?” or “I wish I could get my kid to like even two different types of sandwiches.” In the end, she forgoes the entire conundrum by choosing pizza, which, depending on who you ask, is really just an open-faced sandwich.

9. “Me Want It (But Me Wait)”

If any Muppet was born to embody the mosh-pit spirit of Icona Pop’s chart-topping collaboration with Charli XCX, “I Love It,” it was Cookie Monster. His chaotic nature sets the perfect tone for “Me Want It (But Me Wait),” a catchy number about the importance of delayed gratification. The Sesame Street music video matches the original one almost scene-for-scene, featuring graffitied alleyways, block-lettered lyrics flashing on the screen, and neon-lit dance parties. “Me Want It (But Me Wait)" culminates with Cookie Monster devouring a well-earned cookie, and it’s probably safe to assume that the partygoers in Icona Pop’s video end their all-night revelry with a snack, too.

10. “Don’t Take Your Ones to Town”

“Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” tells the very Johnny Cash-ian tale of a young cowherd named Billy Joe who ignores his mother’s pleas to leave his guns at home and ends up dying in a brief bar fight after his first taste of liquor. The Sesame Street parody, on the other hand, features Big Bird as “Birdie Big,” a “cowbird” who heads to town counting quantities of one and gets a wake-up call when Count von Count and the Countess point out that he doesn’t know how to count higher than one. Instead of shooting him on sight or something, they offer to be his friend and teach him how to count, making this spoof number one on the short list of happy Johnny Cash songs.

11. “Kids Just Love to Brush”

All it takes to sell a skeptic on the theory that girls just want to have fun is one earful of Cyndi Lauper’s new wave classic about the subject. In the ’90s, Sesame Street tried to harness the power of the infectious pop song and use it to sell kids on something that hardly has a reputation for being fun: brushing your teeth. “Kids Just Love to Brush” features a Lauper-inspired Muppet bouncing around with her friends and belting out lyrics like “It’s a party every time we brush.”

12. “It’s Hip To Be a Square”

Whereas getting to “My Triangle” from “You’re Beautiful” may have taken an extra leap of imagination, making Huey Lewis and the News’ “Hip To Be Square” about a literal square seems too great an opportunity to pass up. In the animated video, a smiling red square sings briefly about having four equal sides before dashing off to dance and play with triangles, circles, and other classic shapes to drive home the point that it’s hip to be just about anything. Lewis later told a fan that the band was happy to let Sesame Street use the song. “I think it’s sweet,” he said.

13. “What Makes U So Useful”

The bright-eyed, earnest faces of Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall, and Zayn circa 2014 fit so well into the landscape of a Sesame Street music video that it almost makes you wish they were regular cast members. With goofy lyrics like “U, check it out, Elmo’s upside down / U, there’s a unicorn dressed as a clown” and “U, there are udders under that cow / U, check it out, it’s Bert’s unibrow,” this utilitarian spoof of “What Makes You Beautiful” is just as criminally catchy as the original.

The 10 Best Air Fryers on Amazon

Cosori/Amazon
Cosori/Amazon

When it comes to making food that’s delicious, quick, and easy, you can’t go wrong with an air fryer. They require only a fraction of the oil that traditional fryers do, so you get that same delicious, crispy texture of the fried foods you love while avoiding the extra calories and fat you don’t.

But with so many air fryers out there, it can be tough to choose the one that’ll work best for you. To make your life easier—and get you closer to that tasty piece of fried chicken—we’ve put together a list of some of Amazon’s top-rated air frying gadgets. Each of the products below has at least a 4.5-star rating and over 1200 user reviews, so you can stop dreaming about the perfect dinner and start eating it instead.

1. Ultrean Air Fryer; $76

Ultrean/Amazon

Around 84 percent of reviewers awarded the Ultrean Air Fryer five stars on Amazon, making it one of the most popular models on the site. This 4.2-quart oven doesn't just fry, either—it also grills, roasts, and bakes via its innovative rapid air technology heating system. It's available in four different colors (red, light blue, black, and white), making it the perfect accent piece for any kitchen.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Cosori Air Fryer; $120

Cosori/Amazon

This highly celebrated air fryer from Cosori will quickly become your favorite sous chef. With 11 one-touch presets for frying favorites, like bacon, veggies, and fries, you can take the guesswork out of cooking and let the Cosori do the work instead. One reviewer who “absolutely hates cooking” said, after using it, “I'm actually excited to cook for the first time ever.” You’ll feel the same way!

Buy it: Amazon

3. Innsky Air Fryer; $90

Innsky/Amazon

With its streamlined design and the ability to cook with little to no oil, the Innsky air fryer will make you feel like the picture of elegance as you chow down on a piece of fried shrimp. You can set a timer on the fryer so it starts cooking when you want it to, and it automatically shuts off when the cooking time is done (a great safety feature for chefs who get easily distracted).

Buy it: Amazon

4. Secura Air Fryer; $62

Secura/Amazon

This air fryer from Secura uses a combination of heating techniques—hot air and high-speed air circulation—for fast and easy food prep. And, as one reviewer remarked, with an extra-large 4.2-quart basket “[it’s] good for feeding a crowd, which makes it a great option for large families.” This fryer even comes with a toaster rack and skewers, making it a great addition to a neighborhood barbecue or family glamping trip.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Chefman Turbo Fry; $60

Chefman/Amazon

For those of you really looking to cut back, the Chefman Turbo Fry uses 98 percent less oil than traditional fryers, according to the manufacturer. And with its two-in-one tank basket that allows you to cook multiple items at the same time, you can finally stop using so many pots and pans when you’re making dinner.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Ninja Air Fryer; $100

Ninja/Amazon

The Ninja Air Fryer is a multipurpose gadget that allows you to do far more than crisp up your favorite foods. This air fryer’s one-touch control panel lets you air fry, roast, reheat, or even dehydrate meats, fruits, and veggies, whether your ingredients are fresh or frozen. And the simple interface means that you're only a couple buttons away from a homemade dinner.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Instant Pot Air Fryer + Electronic Pressure Cooker; $180

Instant Pot/Amazon

Enjoy all the perks of an Instant Pot—the ability to serve as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, and more—with a lid that turns the whole thing into an air fryer as well. The multi-level fryer basket has a broiling tray to ensure even crisping throughout, and it’s big enough to cook a meal for up to eight. If you’re more into a traditional air fryer, check out Instant Pot’s new Instant Vortex Pro ($140) air fryer, which gives you the ability to bake, proof, toast, and more.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Omorc Habor Air Fryer; $100

Omorc Habor/Amazon

With a 5.8-quart capacity, this air fryer from Omorc Habor is larger than most, giving you the flexibility of cooking dinner for two or a spread for a party. To give you a clearer picture of the size, its square fryer basket, built to maximize cooking capacity, can handle a five-pound chicken (or all the fries you could possibly eat). Plus, with a non-stick coating and dishwasher-safe basket and frying pot, this handy appliance practically cleans itself.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Dash Deluxe Air Fryer; $100

Dash/Amazon

Dash’s air fryer might look retro, but its high-tech cooking ability is anything but. Its generously sized frying basket can fry up to two pounds of French fries or two dozen wings, and its cool touch handle makes it easy (and safe) to use. And if you're still stumped on what to actually cook once you get your Dash fryer, you'll get a free recipe guide in the box filled with tips and tricks to get the most out of your meal.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Bella Air Fryer; $52

Bella/Amazon

This petite air fryer from Bella may be on the smaller side, but it still packs a powerful punch. Its 2.6-quart frying basket makes it an ideal choice for couples or smaller families—all you have to do is set the temperature and timer, and throw your food inside. Once the meal is ready, its indicator light will ding to let you know that it’s time to eat.

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Slow-Motion Picture: Netflix Is Rolling Out New Playback Speed Controls

You can stay in the Daredevil universe just a bit longer with the slower playback options.
You can stay in the Daredevil universe just a bit longer with the slower playback options.
Netflix

Netflix is now letting some users adjust the playback speed of its content, meaning you can finish The Irishman in a mere fraction of its 3.5-hour run time (or make it last even longer).

As The Verge reports, viewers will have the option to watch videos at 0.5, 0.75, 1.25, or 1.5 times their normal speed, and the feature will be available for regular streaming content and offline downloads. So far, Netflix is only offering it to Android mobile users, but tests are in the works for iOS devices and the web app, too.

When Netflix shared plans to develop playback speed controls back in October 2019, some leaders in the entertainment industry voiced their opposition. Filmmaker Judd Apatow, for example, took to Twitter to explain that distributors like Netflix shouldn’t be allowed to alter content created by others. The streaming giant didn’t abandon the idea, but it did take the negative feedback into consideration. In a July 31 press release, Netflix explained that it was limiting the number of speeds to just four, and each program will always start playing at the normal speed—that way, viewers will have to consciously choose to speed up or slow down videos on a case-by-case basis.

And while content creators may dislike the thought of having less control over how people experience their work, it’s not a new concept. As Netflix pointed out, DVD players and DVRs have long included playback speed options—the feature has also been available on YouTube for years. More importantly, speed controls give users with vision impairments the opportunity to accelerate the audio—since some can process audio faster than sighted folks—and it gives deaf and hard-of-hearing users the chance to slow down the subtitles. Both the National Association of the Deaf and the National Federation of the Blind have endorsed Netflix’s new feature.

While you’re waiting for Netflix to expand the offering to iOS and web users, here are 25 other hacks to enhance your Netflix viewing experience.

[h/t The Verge]