As charming as some movies might be, sometimes the accompanying soundtrack falls flat in comparison, especially if the film is a follow up to a beloved favorite. By almost all accounts, the 2011 movie Disney’s The Muppets hits all the right marks with children and their adults. However, while Disney’s The Muppets: Original Soundtrack may be somewhat entertaining, it ultimately falls flat as the aural accompaniment to the film.
On the other hand, it may be unfair to compare it to The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording, a classic released in 1979 with The Muppet Movie. One difference is the choice of songwriters, and another is the decision to go with remakes, cover songs, and pop tunes. Bret McKenzie from the HBO series Flight of the Conchords penned most of the original songs for Disney’s The Muppets, while The Muppet Movie’s tunes were composed by the professional songwriting team of Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher. Oh, by the way, James Bobin, co-creator of Flight of the Conchords, directed Disney’s The Muppets.
Music from Disney's The Muppets
Disney’s The Muppets: Original Soundtrack isn’t necessarily improved by the inclusion of oldies like Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” and Starship’s “We Built This City.” Those tunes merely follow the continuity of the movie plot, although the revival of Muppet Show favorites like “Mah Na Mah Na” and “The Muppet Show Theme” makes more sense.
Creative highlights include an a cappella version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by The Muppets Barbershop Quartet, and a wordless, clucked version of Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” (listed here with its edited title “Forget You”), although no less than three versions of “Rainbow Connection” seems a little bit overkill.
More Music from Disney's The Muppets
Bret McKenzie’s original tunes for The Muppets: Original Soundtrack include the loping, poppy “Life’s a Happy Song,” which features vocal help from indie rocker Feist, along with veteran movie actor Mickey Rooney. Kermit the Frog sings the ballad “Pictures in My Head,” written by the team of Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis, and Chen Neeman.
Bret McKenzie composed the late ‘80’s-sounding dance pop tune “Me Party” with Paul Roemen, giving Miss Piggy her narcissistic moment in the spotlight. The “Freedom”-sounding “Let’s Talk about Me,” was written by Bret McKenzie and hip hop producer/songwriter Ali Dee Theodore, and features the vocals of Nathan Pacheco. Jason Segel and Peter Linz (as Walter) emote rock ballad-style on “Man or Muppet,” a tune that falls right into McKenzie’s Flight of the Conchords song structure template; and “The Whistling Caruso” is simply Andrew Bird showcasing his whistling skills.
Ultimately a cute piece of memorabilia for the movie, The Muppets: Original Soundtrack is no match for the film itself and is certainly unable to match 1979’s The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording. Kids who went to the theater to see Disney’s The Muppets will most likely dig the accompanying soundtrack, but the songs from the film don’t seem to be destined to become classics.
Released November 21, 2011; Walt Disney Records
- “The Muppet Show Theme” - The Muppets
- “Muppet Studios, I Can't Believe It!”* - Walter
- “Life's a Happy Song” - Gary, Mary and Walter
- “I Haven't Seen the Old Gang”* - Kermit and Gary
- “Pictures in My Head” - Kermit and the Muppets
- “We Drive”* - Kermit and Walter
- “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” - Paul Simon
- “That Spells Reno”* - '80s Robot and Mary
- “Rainbow Connection” - The Moopets
- “Welcome Back”* - Kermit, Fozzie, Walter and Dr. Teeth
- “We Built This City” - Starship
- “Party of One”* - Restaurant Greeter and Mary
- “Me Party” - Mary and Miss Piggy
- “We Humbly Ask”* - Kermit and Tex Richman
- “Let's Talk About Me” - Tex Richman
- “The Answer is No”* - Tex Richman and Kermit
- “Are You a Man or a Muppet?”* - Mary
- “Man or Muppet” - Gary (man and Muppet) and Walter (Muppet and man)
- “Down at the Old Barbershop”* - Kermit
- “Smells Like Teen Spirit” - The Muppets Barbershop Quartet (Rowlf the Dog, Sam Eagle, Link Hogthrob and Beaker)
- “Princesses of Poultry”* - Kermit
- “Forget You” - Camilla and the Chickens
- “It's Time for Our Song”* - Kermit and Miss Piggy
- “Rainbow Connection” - The Muppets
- “Get Out There and Help Those Guys”* - Gary
- “The Whistling Caruso” - Walter (Andrew Bird)
- “How Charming, a Finale”* - Uncle Deadly
- “Life's a Happy Song Finale” - Entire Cast
- “Mary, Marry Me”* - Gary and Mary
- “Mahna Mahna” - Mahna Mahna and the two Snowths
- “Rainbow Connection” - Kermit (iTunes bonus track)
- (*film dialogue)