The Muppets: Original Soundtrack
Phillip Chapman (October 31, 2011) - With a new Muppet movie one of the most anticipated merchandise releases is the official soundtrack. We have the honor of reviewing "The Muppets" soundtrack three weeks before the film’s debut on Wednesday November 23.
Fans have been anticipating whether "The Muppets" soundtrack will be a home run like "The Muppet Movie" in 1979 or if it will have a few nice melodies but lack lasting appeal.
The original Muppet movies had fantastic soundtracks that helped enhance the films infinitely beyond what dialogue or imagery could accomplish. Even though so much has changed in over thirty years of Muppet movies, the question remains… Can Disney revive some of the long lost musical magic?
The Walt Disney original soundtrack for the new film "The Muppets" debuts on CD and digital download on Monday November 21.
In this review, I’ll strive not to reveal any major spoilers, but if you want to be totally surprised as to what songs are included (and who sings them) then revisit this review after you’ve seen the movie. If you’re ready to have a general idea of the soundtrack and score of the film, then proceed ahead.
The soundtrack includes 15 songs and 15 short dialogue clips from the film. The dialogue clips are very short (varying from four to twenty seconds), so they don’t slow the album down. The dialogue clips actually serve as a nice introduction to many of the tracks. In order not to give too much away, the review will focus on the musical numbers from the soundtrack.
You will hear a broad mix of styles and musical compositions. Just when you think you’ve got the movie’s soundtrack figured out, something different is next. Four of the six original songs are written by Bret McKenzie (best known from "Flight of the Conchords"). The Muppets have two covers of contemporary hits. Two classic rock songs are featured by their original artists. And to top it off, three of the most beloved Muppet songs of all time are included for good measure.
The CD runtime is a respectable 40 minutes. The cover of the CD resembles the official theatrical poster minus the credits and titles.
And now on to the music…
The Muppet Show Theme – The Muppets and Joanna Newsom 00:50
It’s fun to hear something as classic as The Muppet Show Theme performed by the current ensemble of performers 35 years after the show debuted. Joanne Newsom joins the fun in this traditional and upbeat performance.
Life's a Happy Song – Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Walter with Mickey Rooney and Feist 04:29
This song is already getting recognition for being the best new song on the album. Bret McKenzie’s lyrics shine in this musical number that sounds right out of Broadway. Interspersed between the verses is dialogue from Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams). Before you know it, you’ll find yourself humming along.
Pictures in My Head - Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Swedish Chef, Kermit & Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem 02:35
While looking at photos, Kermit sings as he remembers his Muppet friends. They each join him in remembering the glory days of the past. Think of "Pictures in My Head" as the equivalent to "Saying Goodbye" from "The Muppets Take Manhattan". This is an important scene in the movie and if the song is any indication, Steve Whitmire as Kermit pulls this one off beautifully.
we could do it all again, just another chance to entertain
- Kermit from "Pictures in My Head"
Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard - Paul Simon 02:42
Paul Simon’s classic from 1972 should fit nicely in the film. (Devout Sesame Street fans will no doubt remember this song from Sesame Street in the 70’s. Albeit without a little girl joining Paul in singing, "You can dance now! All right!")
Rainbow Connection (Moopets Version)- The Moopets 01:02
In this film, there is an alternate group of Muppet characters called "The Moopets". Think of them as Elvis impersonators. Having them sing "Rainbow Connection" has created some fan controversy. Rest-assured this is not the normal version of the song that we know and love. This will only serve as a contrast for what’s yet to come…
We Built This City – Starship 04:53
Here’s another classic rock song straight from 1984 that will be used in a montage of the Muppets characters cleaning up the old theater.
Ah, I remember having this on a 45 back in the day… Good times.
Me Party - Amy Adams & Miss Piggy 01:53
In this danceable song by Bret McKenzie, Amy Adams and Miss Piggy salute their romantic highs and lows.
Let's Talk about Me – Chris Cooper and Nathan Pacheco 02:32
Chris Cooper performs Muppets’ archenemy "Tex Richman" and he takes center stage in this hip-hop parody. This song wasn't at the top of my list. Maybe it's the Muppet purist in me wishing the main characters had a little more screen time.
Man or Muppet - Jason Segel & Walter 02:57
In this humorous and semi-serious song, Brothers Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter take on dueling rules as they both work through their own identity crises.
For anyone living with Muppet fans, you’ll understand.
Smells Like Teen Spirit - The Muppet Barbershop Quartet 02:23
Here’s the first of two modern parodies with Sam, Beaker, Link and Rowlf singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. Big props go to Disney for giving Link his biggest movie appearance ever.
Forget You - Camilla and the Chickens 02:28
Cee Lo Green’s "Forget You" was performed by The Jim Henson Company’s Henson Alternative puppets at the Grammy Awards earlier this year. And now the Muppets cover Cee Lo Green’s song as well. What better way to mask any controversy than with chickens. No doubt chaos ensues on-screen when Camilla and the chickens belt this one out. They’ve come a long way from "Babyface" on The Muppet Show.
Rainbow Connection - The Muppets 03:08
It’s been well-known for awhile that the Muppets were going to sing "Rainbow Connection" in the new movie. While the song has been covered multiple times since its original performance ("The Muppet Show", "The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years", "The Muppets at Walt Disney World"), this is the first time the song has appeared or even been referenced in another Muppet movie. Disney is no doubt pulling out all the stops by including a new performance of the most popular Muppet song of all time.
Kermit sings the first verse while Miss Piggy joins in on the second verse. It’s really sweet hearing Piggy sing Rainbow Connection with Kermit. More Muppets join in during the bridge and they all sing the closing chorus.
The Whistling Caruso - Andrew Bird 01:15
Andrew appears on his second Muppet project this year as the Whistling Caruso. (You can also hear Andrew Bird’s version of "Bein’ Green" on "The Muppets: The Green Album".)
Life's a Happy Song Finale – The Muppets, Amy Adams, Andrew, Walter, Jason Segel & Chris Cooper 02:22
In this reprise from the beginning of the film, the classic Muppets sing this upbeat dance number reminiscent of the large crowd scenes not seen since "Hey a Movie" from "The Great Muppet Caper".
Mah Na Mah Na - Mahna Mahna and The Two Snowths 02:04
The original Muppet Show version is included on the soundtrack and it provides a nice tribute to the Muppets heart and soul, Jim Henson.
"The Muppets" original soundtrack is a great release indeed and a must for pre-order on CD or digital download. It’s the best Muppet soundtrack since "The Muppets Take Manhattan" in 1984.
The overt irony of the new movie is that the characters of Gary (Jason Segel), Mary (Amy Adams) and Walter remind the Muppets of their roots and what made them great. All the while, if Disney has its way, the audience in theaters will have the same revelation.
Disney no doubt has pulled all the nostalgia cards here with references to the previous Muppet films and even recreating The Muppet Show itself. Fans will no doubt be there opening weekend, but the key is whether or not the general public will attend in large numbers. If so, "Life’s a Happy Song" indeed as Disney will be showcasing the Muppets for years to come.
You can listen to the music of "The Muppets: Original Soundtrack" on Muppet Central Radio.