Kieran Moore – As regular readers of my Muppet Mindset articles will know, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Muppet Show I’ve recently been listing the top 10 songs of each year from 1976 to 2015. Today I have finally caught up with myself and reached a year I originally wrote about at the time it actually happened.
Having looked through the chart below, I still stand by my assertion that the pieces listed were the 10 best songs of 2015, so rather than rewrite my article I am presenting it today with only a few minor amendments. Think of it kind of like the “final cut” of Blade Runner… but with at least 10% more Miss Piggy.
2015 has been a heck of a year! As Muppet fans we’ve seen all kinds of amazing things happen. It’s been all change at Sesame Street, with a new set, new home and new format. Turkey Hollow (based on an idea Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl worked on in the 60s) was finally produced for TV, and PBS aired its fantastic documentary “In Their Own Words: Jim Henson”.
The biggest thing to come out of 2015 though 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 eventually knocked the Earth off its axis and we plummeted into a black hole and died, but heck it was good while it lasted…
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 ten on the list will seem totally wrong and I appreciate that, but I have to call them as I see them. I will concede 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. I’m so happy we now have a full compliment of ‘Mayhem performers, meaning 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 this piece is at number 10. 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. 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 – 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. [NB: There still aren’t any good versions online, but if you want Disney to continue supporting the Muppets, official views using official sources will always help the cause so let’s all download this together.] This song appeared in episode two of The Muppets and it marks the first time 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 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 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 love brilliantly. For days after it premiered this was all I saw people talking about online. 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 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 liked Piggy’s feud with Reese Witherspoon and, once again, it reminded me of her old “Muppet Show” days. I also enjoyed seeing her softer side. One of the reasons 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.
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 extended opening 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 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 2015 output feels “old school” and yet at the same time puts a fresh new spin on the characters. Every new production reminds us why we love the Muppets, but 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, 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 so far. To use a Yolanda term, it gives me “the feels”. Even when I’m watching it out of context on YouTube, the moment Gonzo says “see you on the other side” just gets me. 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 to 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. Seeing which Muppet is providing which part of the orchestration and watching them sing so sincerely is very 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 with 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 possibly overused the word love 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 posolutely work [From my keyboard to Disney’s ears apparently, – you’re welcome!] 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. In musical terms I really do think this is the best the Muppets have been in 2015.
[I ended this chart not with my now regular “Thank You”, but instead with some predictions for the next 12 months. They were very, very wrong so I thought I’d include them below so you can all have a laugh at my expense!
But first, I really do want to add my thanks to those whose work appears on this list. Thank You!]
- “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.