I have to take issue with Program Director Brian's characterization of "Animal" from the Muppets as the most influential musician of all time. I didnt think I would have to explain this to you Brian and I hate to publicy correct you, but "Animal" is a puppet. Made of cloth and wire. He doesn't really play the drums at all. When you watch "Animal" during a drum workout, the drums you hear are played by a session musician working for Sesame Workshop. That Buddy Rich clip was done with puppets and trick photography.
Just because the term "Animal From The Muppets" brings up an impressive 807 google citations doesnt mean that any drummers out there actually want to sound like Animal. So how can he be an influential musician?
I grant you that Animal may be a convenient lynchpin for current drummers and rock writers. But he is far from the most influential musician of all time. He's not even the most influential Muppet. If we seek to honor one musician who has been extraordinarily influential, a lone artist who has singlehandedly influenced world wide musical markets and scenes for over a decade, from the deepest underground to the most mainstream, we need look no further than Cookie Monster.
The genius and influence of Cookie Monster is not revealed by comparative search engine queries. Googling for the phrase "Cookie Monster from the Muppets" returns seven results, while the phrase "Animal from the Muppets" returns 771 results, over a hundred times more. You have me there, Mister Turner.
But revise the search term to "Cookie Monster Vocal" or "Cookie Monster Vocals" and you get 835 results. True, most of those results decry or lampoon the gutteral croaking vocal stylings that dominated Nineties Grindcore (see below). But the apparent hostility to Cookie Monster Vocals are just further testimony to their prevalence and therefore to the widespread influence of Cookie Monster himself.
Metal fans and critics alike seem to think that the style evokes the sounds of hell. Other Metal pundits have theorized that the Cookie Monster style is ultimately derived from Motorhead's Lemmy. In reality, bands employing Cookie Monster Vocals pay homage not to Satan, not to Lemmy, but to Cookie Monster himself. And they pay more than homage - royalty payments on his patented vocal technique have made Cookie Monster the third largest land-owner in the entire state of California. He's not only the wealthiest member of the Sesame Street empire, he is now one of the most powerful men in the entire entertainment industry, regularly socializing at his palatial Napa estate with the likes of Martha Stewart (transcript), Star Jones and Donald Trump. (Pay special attention to the kinky moment at the end of the transcript when Martha ties up Cookie Monster and does her Martha things to him.)
If you're new to the concept of Cookie Monster Vocals, or even if you're not, here is a wanna-be Cookie Monster Vocalist named Daniel warming up the old vocal cords. (MP3 - right click to download. This was a found recording from Napster's golden "mic-in-track" period.) To hear real Cookie Monster Vocalists, click the song titles for streaming Realaudio samples from WFMU's massive program archives:
Dormant Bodies Bursting by Cannibal Corpse on Stefan's 4/15/05 show.
Pinball Map by In Flames on Diane Kamikaze's 7/1/04 show.
To These Worlds I Beheld No Tongue by Theater of Tragedy from my 2/2/05 show.
But the influence doesn't stop there. Cookie Monster has a tribute band - Cookie Mongoloid. Where is Animal's tribute band? Cookie Monster has recorded with Michael Jackson (mp3). Has Animal? There is even an online definition of the style, something that Animal could never achieve - since Animal posseses no actual musical style. Wikipedia's lengthy entry on Cookie Monster makes no mention of the style, but this post will hopefully change that. It must.
At no time in musical history has a person of color exacted such influence over so many. Not to mention a person of the color blue.
On Cannibal Corpse: "I really can't understand how people can like death metal. Every song sounds the fucking same! Maybe I just prefer real talent over cookie monster vocals and songs titled "I Cum Blood" Oooohh, I'm sooo scared."
Vector describing themselves: "Influences? Sabbath, Soundgarden, Velvet Revolver, AIC...anything that doesnt suck really (aka emo crap, cookie monster vocals crap, crap crap)"
On Saved by Grace: "This is worse than cookie monster vocals since The Cookie Monster could usually be understood."
On Death Metal in general: "Only a retard/poser would be unable to see how idiotic Cookie Monster vocals are."
On Slayer: "Anything with Cookie Monster vocals has got to go, and keep going until the Doppler effect is not longer in play. i am adamant about this. Screaming vocals can be okay, but no Cookie Monsters."
From Ad Seeking Vocalist: "Will accept Female or Male singers, no screamers though, want actual vocals, Cookie Monster vocals need not apply."
On Grindcore: "Signatures of grindcore include the crunching guitar sound, the 1000mph "blast beats" which derive presumably from hardcore punk, and a general tendency for drummers to throw mini temper tantrums in the middle of every song, and finally and perhaps most importantly, the vomiting "cookie monster" vocals, which in addition to sounding like that unforgettable Sesame Street character probably derive most from Motorhead's Lemmy's croaking voice."
On Eternal Silence: "I love the music but cannot get past the cookie monster vocals."
On Opeth: "the cookie monster vocals are a bad joke to me, except Damnation which hovers around 3 stars for me"
On Marduk: "these guys sing in there stupid "cookie monster" vocals and guitars tuned so low that it sound retarded"
From Ad Seeking Band Members: "We wanna make thrash metal with a heavy rythm to it. The kind you get from Machine Head, Rammstein, and some 80's thrash metal bands like Megadeth, Metallica, Slayer etc.. We don't want cookie monster vocals."
Cookie Monster is currently appearing at the John Golden Theater in New York City, playing the role of the Pornography Connoisseur Trekkie Monster in the current production of Avenue Q.
Ken Freedman is in no way affiliated with Sesame Workshop, The Jim Henson Foundation, the band Cannibal Corpse or Cookie Monster Productions LLC.