Kieran Moore – Wow! 2015 was a heck of a year! As Muppet fans we saw all kinds of amazing things happen. It’s been all change at Sesame Street with a new set and a new home and format; Turkey Hollow (based on an idea Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl worked on in the 60s) was finally produced for TV and, speaking of Jim, (literally) PBS aired its fantastic documentary “In Their Own Words: Jim Henson”. The most important news of all however was Ryan Dosier leaving The Muppet Mindset.
Ok, I jest – as monumental as Ryan’s departure was – the biggest thing to come out of 2015 was surely “The Muppets”. ABC’s brand new show gave the Muppet gang a regular home on primetime TV for the first time in almost 20 years. For a Muppet fan it doesn’t get much bigger than that; however as exciting as this news was for us, the world had another Muppet story on its mind when the “conscious uncoupling” (I hate that phrase) of Kermit and Miss Piggy was announced. As we all know the amount of spinning Jim did in his grave because of this eventually knocked the Earth off its axis and we plummeted into a black hole and died, but heck it was good while it lasted…
Before we start – I have subtitled this chart “Muppets Edition” as it only features songs from/by the core Muppet gang and excludes other properties. This has been a great year for the guys and their output has been plentiful and fantastic so I thought it only fair they got their chance to shine.
10 – Jungle Boogie – Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem ft. Sam the Eagle – Muppet Viral Video
I know for some people having this song as low as number 10 on the list will seem totally wrong and I appreciate that, but I have to call them as I see them. I will concede that there is some amazing musicianship on display here and the ‘Mayhem sound as good as they always do. Dr. Teeth gives a great vocal performance and pieces like this make me appreciate Bill Barretta so much. It makes me happy that we now have a full compliment of ‘Mayhem performers meaning that the whole gang (including Lips) can take an equal part in whatever they do. I think if I’m being completely honest Sam’s inclusion here is the main reason that this piece is at number 10 as I don’t find the joke particularly funny and I think I’d prefer it more as a straight music video.
9 – Flower’s on the Wall – The Ratler Brothers with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker – Muppet Viral Video
I know for some people having this song as low as number nine on the list will seem totally wrong and I appreciate that, but I have to call them as I see them. I find this video very, very funny. It’s such a treat to see Beaker at home. His “date” with Bunsen is probably the highlight of the whole piece for me. I’m quite happy to “ship” Beaker and Bunsen, but their relationship does have me baffled at times and this video does nothing to set my mind straight! I find the way this video is presented a little strange – is there a reference I’m missing? I think I’d have preferred the rats to be in Beaker’s apartment watching the action unfold as “invisible narrators”. If I’m being completely honest the reason this number loses marks is because I actually don’t care much for the song which is almost the exact opposite of “Jungle Boogie” where I liked the song, but not the joke however both have a lot to love, and I do, so please don’t hate me…
8 – World News Polka – Kermit the Frog & Barry Mitchell – World News Now
This is so random. I just love the fact that it exists! Musically and lyrically this is just about perfect. If Fozzie really did write the lyrics this is some of his best stuff! The “tad Polish” joke, as cringe worthy as it is, is actually pretty funny. Kermit and Barry play and sing very well together and I why they haven’t been picked up for an album is anyone’s guess. Where’s the record executive with the fat cigar when you need him? I suppose if I was feeling particularly cynical then I could say something scathing about corporate synergy, but when the result is this good does anyone actually care? Instead, pull up a lily-pad, sit back, tap your flippers and just enjoy!
7 – If I Loved You – Miss Piggy & Josh Groban – The Muppets (2015)
For some strange reason ABC have chosen not to put an official version of this song online and while there are some very bad copies out there I’m gonna go ahead and suggest that if you want to recap this song the best way to do so is by supporting the show and finding it legally. Why do I feel like Sam the Eagle all of a sudden?! This song appeared in episode two of The Muppets and it marks the first time that I properly thought the show was going to do right by the characters. It felt like it came straight from the “Muppet Show” days with Piggy flirting her way through a duet with a handsome male guest star. We all know Josh Groban can sing, but Eric Jacobson sounds incredible too. Piggy and Josh have such fantastic chemistry I honestly wouldn’t mind if he came back for another stint on the show.
6 – The Giant Crumpet Show Theme – The Muppets – Warburton’s TV Commercial
This video/song/commercial was so out of the blue that I had to pinch myself when it popped up on my Facebook feed. I’m not sure sometimes if American Muppet fans realize just how much we Brits have taken the Muppets to heart. “The Muppet Show” was (and forever will be) a British show with British talent producing it both on and off screen and because of that it has a very British sensibility. That’s too many “British”’s in one sentence, but you know what I mean. On this side of the pond we have a great fondness for the Muppets and this commercial plays to that brilliantly. For days after it aired it was all I saw people talking about online and that made me outrageously happy. The little nods to the north-west of England with mentions of “The Arndale”, Coronation Street, “Mad for It” and I Heart BLTN are spot on, but then pretty much everything is here. I could write about this commercial for hours, but instead I’ll give a quick nod to Rowlf for his line “Oh, I know what that feels like!” and move on.
5 – I’m Sorry – Miss Piggy with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – The Muppets (2015)
I know that for quite a few fans this episode, “Walk the Swine”, is one of their least favorite, but I actually enjoyed it more than the following week’s (“The Ex-Factor” with Kristen Chenoweth). I know, what can I say? I liked Piggy’s feud with Reese and again it reminded me of her old “Muppet Show” days. I also enjoyed seeing her softer side. One of the reasons why I love Eric’s portrayal of Piggy so much is that I feel under him (or perhaps over him is more appropriate) she’s a much more rounded character. This episode of the show gave me two unexpected moments. One was Piggy crying to Kermit and the other is this song. An absolute master class in puppetry, it’s a visual cornucopia that just keeps on giving. I can only marvel at the work that must have gone into this number. Shout outs also have to go to Steve Whitmire as Lips and David Rudman as Scooter – not just for their fantastic dancing here, but also for everything they’ve done in 2015!
4 – Pure Imagination – The Muppets & Lindsey Stirling and Josh Groban – Muppet Viral Video
Pure Imagination is a lovely song from a film (Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory) that I don’t really care for. Allegedly neither did Roald Dahl so I’m in good company! I think the opening part of this video is as good as the song itself; silly jokes abound, Fozzie carries both sides of “one long cake” and Bubba Rat takes care of “that thing” for Kermit. I know I’ve said it lots already, but this really feels like the old days. I think that the powers that be are playing a blinder at the moment. (Is that just a UK expression? It basically means they’re doing well.) I say this because so much of the current output feels “old school” and yet at the same time “The Muppets (2015)” puts a fresh new spin on the characters. Everything reminds us of why we love the Muppets, but it feels current too. Josh, Lindsey and everyone involved are on fine form here and if you didn’t get echoes of the ending of “The Muppet Movie” as those clouds crashed together then I really don’t know what to say.
3 – Learn to Fly – Dave Grohl & Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – The Muppets (2015)
I wasn’t sure whether to include this song as it’s Dave Grohl heavy, but I figured it’s no different to “Crocodile Rock” from “The Muppet Show” and I’d have no issues featuring that. This is hands down my favorite moment (musical or otherwise) from the new show. To use a Yolanda term, it gives me “the feels”. Even watching it out of context on YouTube, the moment Gonzo says “see you on the other side” just gets me. It’s that weird feeling where something just momentarily catches your breath. When he lands the jump I just couldn’t be happier and to top it off we get the fun revelation that “Piggy Water” actually tastes OK. Mind you, that’s OK to Gonzo so you and I might still want to think again… It’s also kind of cool that Dave Grohl and the Electric Mayhem work on the same rock star logic regarding rehearsal. I love love love love love this!
2 – Cool Kids – The Muppets & Mike Tompkins – Muppet Viral Video
I first heard the song Cool Kids when a kid much cooler than I played it. For me the song had instant sing-ability so when I saw the Muppets had made an a cappella version I knew it was going to be good. I just wasn’t prepared for how good. Since it was released back in May I have listened to this song a lot and with every listen I think I love it a little more. I know there were a few fans that weren’t sure about the Muppets covering this song because of its lyrics, but I think any criticism is deftly swerved by Kermit’s mid-song description of what “cool” is to him. I have to say I agree. This song is as much fun to watch as it is to listen to though. Seeing which Muppet is providing which part of the orchestration is fun and watching them sing so sincerely is cool. I especially love Gonzo’s hand over his ear. It’s like he’s recreating the “We Are the World” video! As an a cappella singer myself I guess I have a particular affinity to this track and it was so close to being number one – it literally missed out by a just a few days…
1 – Kodachrome – Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem – Muppet Viral Video
I’ve used the word love often in this chart, but there really is a lot to love here. For starters, it’s an awesome Electric Mayhem number and I love that it is presented as a live concert performance. Come on, who doesn’t want to see them in concert? This video proves to me that a tour would absotively work – maybe not in huge arenas, but certainly concert halls. I also love the photos in the background. Specific highlights are Sam in the colours of the Italian flag, Kermit and Constantine having fun, Kermit and Piggy having fun, Fozzie and Walter having fun, the Pigs in Space crew having a fight and my absolute favorite – the picture of Kermit under Rowlf’s ear. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling seeing those two side by side like that. It’s almost as if Jim never went away. Talking of characters going away, I did a double-take when Walter popped up. I’d almost forgotten about him! Can I be honest and say I don’t miss him from “The Muppets (2015”)? Now that the show is 10 episodes in I’m really struggling to see where he’d fit. I suspect he’ll be back after the mid-season break, but I really don’t mind if he isn’t. I’d much rather see Link back as a foil for Piggy first. Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent. Suffice to say, in music terms I really do think this is the best the Muppets have been in 2015.
It’s been an incredible year for the Muppets. In the not so distant past there have been years where the song at number 11 (“Rainbow Connection” by the way) could have been a very worthy number one, but those times have passed my friends and I think we are now in a new golden age.
Last March, in an email to Ryan Dosier, I mentioned that I thought the Muppets were headed back to TV and two weeks later the pilot presentation for “The Muppets” was shot. I’m sure he must have known I was right, but Ryan did a very good job of not saying anything. Anyway, I figured that since my crystal ball seems to be working ok I’d make some predictions for 2016. Let’s see how many I get right…
- “The Muppets” will get another series in fall 2016, but that will be the last. By the time it’s finished in 2017 Kermit and Piggy will be back together and a new movie will be announced to complete the “Together Again Trilogy”. (I guess technically that’s a prediction for 2017, but I didn’t want people to hate on me for saying I think only one more season!)
- In a surprise move Oscar the Grouch will run as an independent candidate for President of the United States of America. In an even more surprising move Grover will be his running mate. Big Bird will be invited onto “Saturday Night Live” to discuss this. Oscar will eventually take 0.02% of the vote which makes him angry (and happy).
- The Fraggle Rock Movie will get a release date of Easter 2017 and it will be announced that the full title will be “Fraggle Rock: The Curse of the Terrible Tunnel”.
- Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem will finally release an album and they’ll be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame as part of the promotional tour.
- “Ol’ Brown Ears is Back” will get a release on vinyl for “World Record Store Day”. A numbered, limited edition, brown vinyl version will also be available and include a Rowlf’s Tavern glass and an old shoe.
- Everyone will have an amazing 2016 and the year will be so good that all future years are cancelled and called 2016.1, 2016.2, 2016.3 etc.
Fingers crossed, eh?