There are some old favourites among the new tracks with OK Go’s rendition of the Muppet Theme getting the whole shebang off to an unconventional start, proving a divisive version of the classic tune. Alkaline Trio’s Movin’ Right Along is a jaunty punk cover of the Fozzie/Kermit duet from The Muppet Movie and it demands a replay or two and will end up in your head but leave it to The Fray to cover the infamous Mahna-Mahna which is likely clamped to your subconscious already. It works as a track, though it’s not exactly one to listen to again and again and I’d rather have the band take on another track here as there’s not a lot you can do with the song.
The clear tuneful voice of My Morning Jacket’s Jim James updates Paul Williams’ Our World giving Alice Otter a run for her money, though it’s not a highlight it does capture the simple, rather than simplistic, beauty of Williams’ work. Amy Lee’s rendition of Robin the Frog’s Halfway Down the Stairs complicates the song a little too much and it loses its charm, making it an obvious one to skip. Norwegian singer Sondre Lerche’s vocal quirks are put to good use on Mr. Bassman and The Airborne Toxic Event’s cover of Gono’s Wishing Song could have used a little more Madeline Kahn, but then so could most things, but I enjoyed their spin on the song greatly.
Andrew Bird’s take on Kermit’s celebrated Bein’ Green is a joy, and an album highlight with its uncomplicated accompaniment and Bird’s vocals and whistles imbuing the song with the necessary surreal melancholic air. The Muppet Movie’s duet with two of Jim Henson’s characters (Kermit and Rowf), I Hope That Something Better Comes Along is great fun with its cute lyrics and lone piano from Matt Nathanson and it’s the first track I went back to when I was done with the album. Gonzo’s spacey I’m Going To Go Back There Someday is given a breathy polish from Rachael Yamagata whose curious voice gives the song a wayward, alien sound which is entirely appropriate.
There are some gems here, though the slower tracks resonated with me more the attempts to crank up some of the songs, which do almost universally fall flat but it’s a must for Muppet fans, and worth delving into for the odd gem. Now then, where’s the new movie, eh?
- “The Muppet Show Theme” (OK Go)
- “The Rainbow Connection” (Weezer and Hayley Williams)
- “Mahna Mahna” (The Fray)
- “Movin’ Right Along” (Alkaline Trio)
- “Our World” (My Morning Jacket)
- “Halfway Down the Stairs” (Amy Lee)
- “Mr. Bassman” (Sondre Lerche)
- “Wishing Song” (The Airborne Toxic Event)
- “Night Life” (Brandon Saller and Billy Martin)
- “Bein’ Green” (Andrew Bird)
- “I Hope That Somethin’ Better Comes Along” (Matt Nathanson)
- “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” (Rachael Yamagata)