Kieran Moore – It’s impossible to think of our favorite movies and not be instantly reminded of the classic love songs that accompany them. Films like Saving Private Ryan, Alien and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – what would any of them be without a romantic core running through the story and the gentle ballads, smooth soul sounds and roaring rock anthems that go with them? Exactly. It’s hard to imagine what that would be like…
Ok, so those three movies aren’t great examples, but the point still stands. A large percentage of movies feature a love plot somewhere along the way and at the same time a large percentage of songs are all about love and its many facets. So it stands to reason that Muppet Movies and songs are no different. I love love and I love Muppets and that’s why today I’m presenting my countdown of the 10 best Muppet movie love songs…
10 – When Love is Gone – Muppet Christmas Carol
Here to prove that all not love songs are about hearts and flowers and turtle doves from above is our number 10 song. It’s the perfect piece to illustrate that horrible feeling when a relationship is ending. Paul Williams has done a wonderful job making us care for this couple that we know so little about. Meredith Braun sings this beautifully and the whole sequence is emotional and steeped with powerful resonance. Unfortunately, it was cut from the final movie due to concerns children wouldn’t sit through it, which makes me sad. On the flipside, it meant this song gained huge notoriety, became a cult classic and is probably more popular now than it might have been otherwise.
9 – The First Time it Happens – The Great Muppet Caper
Annoyingly, I can’t find a video to accompany this song that shows the full scene, but we all know it anyway, right? I would have liked to have shown it because despite saying it made me sad that kids wouldn’t sit through When Love is Gone, I have to confess I found this sequence a difficult watch as a child – even with the inclusion of Muppet characters. I don’t blame the movie or track, I’ve just always found songs in movies that break down into big dance numbers annoying. I actually blame my brother’s insistence on watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on a loop when we were kids. Toot Sweets is my idea of hell… It’s a great song though (written by the fabulous Joe Raposo and nominated for an Oscar). It swells and soars and encapsulates that moment two people click perfectly.
8 – Something So Right – Muppets Most Wanted
It probably won’t come as a huge shock to learn that Miss Piggy features a lot on today’s chart. There are several romantic groupings in the main Muppet clan – Gonzo and Camilla, Rizzo and Yolanda, Janice and half the Electric Mayhem (apparently), but in the movies it really is all about the frog and the pig. This track is the emotional heart of Muppets Most Wanted and is one of the main reasons I find Miss Piggy to be more sympathetic these days. It’s hard not to empathise with her as the thing she’s wanted for years and years is finally happening and yet it’s not quite what she dreamed of. It’s a very real feeling that I’m sure many of us have experienced and it elevates Piggy’s character away from being the bossy girlfriend or dodgy diva we know her as. Props go to Bret McKenzie and Eric Jacobson for this moment.
7 – I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along – The Muppet Movie
And here’s yet another type of love song. Although about romance, this plays more like a buddy comedy in a song – talking about how Kermit and Rowlf just can’t give up the ladies. As I put this chart together and saw all the possible songs in a list, I was struck by the comparison/juxtaposition of this track and Me Party from The Muppets 2011 (that song was in 11th place by the way). Both are sung by pairs of characters about their opinions of the love situations they find themselves in, but where this piece is sung by two males who are hopeless to change their situation, Me Party is sung by two females who are empowered to go it alone and do something different. I don’t know if it’s a gender thing, an era thing or just down to the story being told, but it’s an interesting topic for debate.
6 – I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu) – Muppets Most Wanted
The main theme of Muppets Most Wanted is people getting what they want (it’s right there in the title) and here Constantine is offering Miss Piggy the sun, moon and (Hollywood) stars in order to keep her happy. As well as illustrating the idea of trying achieve our deepest desires the movie and song also show how the Muppets are willing to believe anything and ignore the obvious if it helps further their cause. For all its knock about humor there’s a real sense of emotion at the movie’s core and the idea that Kermit’s best friends and on/off girlfriend are happy to overlook how out of character he is being is a big part of that. This is the perfect pop parody. Pitched somewhere between Lionel Richie and The Backstreet Boys it’s hilarious and heartfelt in equal measure.
5 – Love Led Us Here – Muppet Treasure Island
While we’re professing our love, I’ll admit it – I love the songs from Muppet Treasure Island. From the ridiculousness of Cabin Fever to the villainy of Professional Pirate; Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil did a tremendous job. They pitched their songs perfectly, amplifying every serious sequence and providing some very funny madcap moments on the flipside. I honestly don’t know if I can pick a favorite song, but this is very much amongst them. Kermit and Piggy duets are actually in shorter supply than you’d think (certainly when this movie debuted) and this adds some real class to the oeuvre. Although it’s only in fifth place I honestly feel that this could be the “purest” love song on the list – only rivalled by the track in first place.
4 – I’m Gonna Always Love You – Muppets Take Manhattan
The song that changed children’s television for a generation. It’s entirely possible that after Rainbow Connection this is the Muppet song that’s had the biggest cultural impact – even if indirectly. As someone who was already a Muppet fan, seeing my favorite characters in a regular spot on TV again was a huge thrill. I wonder how many 80’s kids this show converted? It’s possible some of you are here right now because of this song. The baby versions of the Muppets are super cute – I almost can’t bear it. I particularly love how Scooter’s shirt doesn’t meet his shorts! This is sung with gusto by the Muppet performers as they live it up as their characters’ younger counterparts. It’s a wonderful Doo-Wap number written, unsurprisingly, by Jeff Moss and is a high point in a movie that’s full of them.
3 – Couldn’t We Ride – The Great Muppet Caper
This is such a lovely song. It’s sweet and sentimental and, just like the Great Muppet Caper song we looked at earlier, tells of the joy of young love. It’s about how the world suddenly looks different and you feel light as air when you’re in love. This is sunny and breezy and lots of other weather-type words. It makes me incredibly happy. This is probably one of my favorite Kermit and Piggy moments ever. It’s iconic. As much as I’d love to attribute that to the beautiful song, I will concede it’s probably down to the visuals. The world marvelled as Kermit the Frog rode a bike in The Muppet Movie (even if it had happened before) so The Great Muppet Caper had to up the ante and get all of the Muppets riding bikes. AND they got Kermit and Piggy to perform all kinds of stunts and manoeuvres in order to really make the audience say “How did they do that?” Some of it’s easy to spot and some of it’s pure Muppet Magic and that’s all we need to know.
2 – He’ll Make Me Happy – Muppets Take Manhattan
I guess this song is representing the whole of the last 10-15 minutes of Muppets Take Manhattan, but it really is the crowning glory of the whole piece and is certainly the part that speaks most about love. In the space of two songs we’ve gone from two souls who have just met to two souls who are about the make the ultimate commitment. Although in different stages of their relationship, both couples are embarking on something new. It’s simply wonderful and wonderfully simple. I’ve never gotten married (no one will have me), but I hope I feel this way when I do. I guess if I don’t, it probably shouldn’t happen! Jim Henson is perfect as a nervous/excited Kermit, but Frank Oz is even better as Miss Piggy. She’s never been so tender and loving.
1 – Never Before, Never Again – The Muppet Movie
A little while back when working on my mammoth 150th chart, I mentioned how this song was the only major piece from The Muppet Movie that hadn’t been number one. It was never a shoo-in on this list, but I’m certainly pleased the chips fell this way. Over the years I’ve come to enjoy this song much more than I used to. In the past I felt that its presentation was a little too tongue-in-cheek and that slightly undermined the emotion of the song, but I’ve mellowed on that somewhat now. Once again, Paul Williams has come up trumps and written a song that works whether it’s being sung about a pig and a frog or any other pairing on the planet. This isn’t Frank Oz’s finest singing performance, but his gutsy vocal is perfect for the song and moment it creates.
All You Need is Love, Endless Love. Love Me Tender, Love Love Me Do. I Will Always Love You, As Long As You Love Me. When A Man Loves a Woman, When Love Takes Over – I’m Gonna Always Love You. And so it goes…
Before I sign off I want to give a shout out to the Love Theme from Dark Crystal. I was very tempted to include it, but decided it was more a piece of score than an actual song. If you want to judge for yourself you can hear it here. It always gives me chills.
So it just remains to say Thank You to all the songwriters, performers, musicians and everybody else involved for explaining the world of love to a cold-hearted person like myself through the medium of Muppet music. Thank You.