Friday 31 Oct 2014

New Muppet Album Puts On The Music

Muppets!Sorry to steal Chris’s and Coach’s thunder, but I saw this today and had to write about it. There’s a new record of Muppet-inspired music called The Green Album. It’s not easy being green, as fans of Kermit the Frog and his lovable gang of felt and foam friends can attest. It’s also hard to name an album after a famous (and pretty good) Weezer album. But when groups like OK Go, Andrew Bird, Sondre Lerche, and (Coach, this is for you) The Airborne Toxic Event are part of the mix, being green got a little easier. Weezer themselves also supply a track, a cover of the Kermit klassic “Rainbow Connection.” It’s too bad they couldn’t get Waka Flocka Flame (he took his name from Fozzy Bear’s catchphrase).

The album is all covers of classic Muppet songs, from the show’s theme song (OK Go’s experimental take) to the hilarious “Mahna Mahna” (a faithful and rocking adaptation by The Fray). I’ve never heard of a majority of the listings, making me ashamed to call myself a Muppet fan. While the Muppets have a long tradition of covering classic songs, these were original Muppet creations, either appearing in films or The Muppet Show.

If you’re familiar with the Muppets (I hope you are!) then you’ll find some of the songs recognizable. I’m a fan of covers, but many are hit or miss. If you don’t know the song’s a cover (as I did with All Along the Watchtower for a long time–yes, pretty embarrassing), then it makes listening easier. For me, the covers of the songs that I know were a bit of a letdown. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe it’s that the originals were so catchy and perfect, but the covers that deviate too far from the source material feel different for the sake of being different. OK Go’s cover, for example, is darker, slower, and loses the peppy, zany tone of the original Muppet theme. Yet it’s not such a stark contrast to say anything new or interesting. It’s funky, sure, but a little off-kilter for me (which is surprising for OK Go, since they’re good with writing hooks).

The album as whole feels a bit disjointed. “Night Life” performed by Brandon Saller sounds like a Van Halen song, and that’s followed up by “Being Green” as done by Andrew Bird. Bird’s take on the song is sweet and fun and it even elevates the original (while Kermit’s warbling will always deliver, hearing the song in a more harmonic tone is nice). But moving from a hard-rocking jam to the wistful ode to acceptance is a bit jarring. And what’s “Being Green”–such a classic–doing lost three songs from the end of the album?

Call me a Statler or Waldorf, but I’ll stick with the originals, thank you very much. Still, anything Muppets is good in my book, so I can’t help but listen to this with a smile. You can listen too, and tell me what you think, by streaming the whole album on NPR. It might not be up there for long, so listen while you can. Or you can purchase the album on iTunes or Amazon. Listen to it once or over and over again, and get your Muppet fill until the new Muppet movie comes out this fall.

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