It’s Not That Easy Being the Green Album (Not a Great Title)

Readers and countrymen! And countrywomen! And countrybears and countrychickens and countrythings… I apologize for the rude and forceful M.O.O.P.E.T. takeover of my Moopet takeover. I know that so many of you wrote in asking, ney, demanding that I be allowed to regain control from the ‘Muppet’s Only’ Online Petition for Ending Takovers because you so enjoy my wit, banter and generally flawless approach to bringing your Muppet/Moopet news on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, I have returned to you, my dear readers, and bring with me firm proof that being a non-Muppet Fan is JUST as cool and trendy as being a Muppet Fan (or something along those lines) with my review of The Muppets: The Green Album (available from the 23rd August, that’s tomorrow and just 92 days till The Muppets’ The Muppets!)

Green is the Colour of Spring

So, whilst the entire creative team and staff of Disney are away happily entertaining Ryan for the D23 Weekend (keep up with his adventures here), I managed to sneak onto the backlot wearing a Balaclava and Mickey Ears and rather than heading to the Disney Vault to rescue Song of the South, I managed to snatch a copy of The Green Album hot off the press and settled down for a good listen (which is when I was noticed by security and promptly requested to politely leave the building). Luckily they did not require me to removed my Mouse Ears (free advertising) or they may have noticed I had smuggled a couple of copies out with me inside of them…and so, here are some of my (free flowing) thoughts on the all-covers album.

The Muppet Show Theme Tune — Ok, Go

Echo, electric memories of Muppets start out this album. Straight out of the gate, it reminds me that there were certain Muppet Show sketches that scared the daylights out of me as a child. The music is rather scary and reflects the monster-y elements of the Muppet Show, but also has some fun elements. I find it weird that they just go lyrically into it all, including the Statler and Waldorf stuff and “Introduce to you…” with no one in particular being introduced. There is an awesome “Flight of the Bumblebees” riff in the middle though which makes it worth the listen! It is indie rock and it does brings back a lot of Muppet Show memories but does not quite access the crazy ‘HAPPY!” feel of the real Muppet Show tune though. I gave it a slightly generous 7/10, with points deducted for creepiness and for direct lyric use, but points added for the retro feel and the bumble-bee rift. (And extra, bonus points added for the fact they are making a music video! I may have gone a little lower if I was judging purely on personal taste).

The first time I listened, I heard each song separately, but am now reviewing my thoughts while hearing it as a “whole” and certainly appreciate how the songs move into one another musically without any jarring, despite being a whole team of different artists. Well, so far. Between one and two.
Rainbow Connection – Weezer (feat. Hayley Williams)

Weezer’s Rainbow Connection has a beautiful outdoorsy feel to it. Loads of glittering rivers and HAYLEY WILLIAMS! Ooh, I love her voice on this tune. However, I have noticed by this stage that all the singers seem to be over pronouncing each word and syllable of the lyrics as if there are Disney executives with pointers watching over them to be sure they stay on track (pun intended). The song really builds though. But to what exactly? The feel for me is that they are singing it more as if they believe that the voice is calling Kermit, in the past, but not as if it is calling them, now. The instrumental is very very very nice though and it gets better with each listen. 6/10, with points deducted for the over pronunciation and not really believing the lyrics, points added for a couple of fun moments in the music and a nice, dreamy outro.

Mahna Mahna – The Fray

Jump and clap! The Fray are performing Mahna Mahna and it is actually awesome! Not only have they taken liberties with the lyrics, it has a fresh hand-jivey feel to it. I adore the way that the main singer is focusing on the “Mah”s more than the “nas”. Unique. I want/need to see a Music video for this one too. Or to see them performing it live. It kinda is how I would imagine Rowlf performing this song (I have a strange imagination). The piano is AWESOME! I cannot over emphasis how fun the piano is in this. 9/10 with points deducted because the ‘Do do do’s’ are less ethusiastic, but points added for the awesome piano

The link here is fab. Really building from song to song. (I always enjoy albums more when they flow). You could say that the album is really:
Movin’ Right Along – Alkaline Trio

Being British (and not at all Indie or modern-cool) I do not recognize many of these artists, but the album is building now, with a really laid back, rocky “Movin’ Right Along” that I can TOTALLY see coming from a top-down 80s car spinning through LA. Uch…but yucky shout outs to band members… “This song is starting to sound better, Danny!” I hate shout outs of spoken word in songs more than I hate peanut butter (and I am allergic, little known fact. So is Ryan’s cat as it turns out.). I do love this moment though: “Hey, I’ve never seen the sun come up in the WEST?!!” 8/10, with points deducted for spoken word and lyrical accuracy, but points added for FUN and HAPPY. Yup.

The next link brings us down, but without pulling us out of the music.
Our World – My Morning Jacket

Speaking of my morning jacket, has anyone seen my overcoat? I think I left it in a restaurant and it has perfect deep pockets for ‘reviewing’ as yet unreleased merchandise. But seriously, speaking of road trips, I could totally keep “Our World” spinning as I drive along the coast line. Something about all these tunes so far is that they have a “tinkle, bright, earthy” feel and this one is no different. I can practically feel the dew dripping from the grass below my heels as I walk along a riverbank. I really like that. Green Album? It is actually quite Ecological-feel-ish. Probably should not take it on a road-trip then or the carbon emmitions will undo all the work they put into it! I would not listen to this song very often, but when I did, I would love it. It is very Fraggle Rockish. 7/10, with points deducted only because it makes me sleepy and thoughtful rather than happy and bouncy, but points added because it is the first song on the album which sounds like something the artists themselves could have written, produced and released independently, not just a cover. Maybe that is because I don’t know the song so well though?

The links continue to be smooth, it is kinda like they all shared a few guitars and pianos throughout the album.
Mr Bassman – Sondre Lerche

Ooh, it’s Mr Bassman. The voice is very Scootesque which is a fun reference to this Muppet version. For some reason there seems to be a Warewolf howling at the moon in the background. NICE “Boom ba boom”ing though! Would LOVE to see this performed with a guest-star and Floyd or Clifford doing the ‘ba booms’. Nice jiggling music here (and a train!????? Wait, what!? OH MY GOSH! Is he being attacked by ghosts!????? Halloween Bassman business…) Ultimately it is just a boy at his guitar though. 5/10, with points being very much deducted for the frightening and distracting background sounds, but points added for enthusiasm.

Halfway Down The Stairs – Amy Lee

Oh, but now the fear which started in the first track and oozed into Mr Bassman is truly back in charge as Amy Lee performs “Halfway Down the Stairs”. I kinda have a feeling that she is halfway down the stairs…to the cellar, surrounded by bats and spiders. I guess Uncle Deadly or The Count would love to be there with her! GAH! It really does pull you into it though. Thank goodness it ‘isn’t in the nursery, it isn’t in the town’ we wouldn’t want to scare the children! 6/10, with points deducted because it sort of loses the point of the song (although argueably the point of the original song was “Small boy, Big World” and this song is ‘Big Girl, Scary World’) and points added because AMY LEE!

This one moves neatly into the next rocky song though. LIKE.
Wishing Song – The Airborne Toxic Event
I once started an airborne toxic event when experimenting with cheese and an electric fan, but it was promptly shut down by the health inspectors (and mice).

The semi-scary (but victorious) music continues with the Wishing Song. But this one is really awesome because it has a very husky rock-and-roll voice singing it. Now, I confess that I cannot remember the Wishing Song at all. Did someone actually sing it on the Muppet Show? Hmm…Gonzo apparently. This may be one of my favourite tracks on the album though because they have really taken it seriously and it sounds like a true realeasable song. 8/10 with points deducted for not using a particularly recognisable track but points added for uniqueness and smooth flow.

Night Life – Brandon Saller

Nightlife. Ooooh! So fancy. The voice is a little annoying though. It is very, very rock and roll. Do they have to play so loud? – Oh, how annoying. They included that line in spoken word. Tsk. — Ooooh! Amazing break-out bridge. “Gimme gimme gimme my nightlife”. But for some reason there is loads of really creepy laughter following the track, including a baby giggle. The original Nightlife is one of my all time favourite Muppet songs, and I appreciate this version on a number of levels. 6/10 though, with points deducted for annoying chatty bit and the super disturbing laughter at the end, points added for DRUMS DRUMS DRUMS.

Sadly, said laughter does not really segue nicely into the drifting sounds of Being Green that follows it either.
Being Green – Andrew Bird

Being Green has some fancy funeral background music as the intro, which I dislike intensley. But the singing voice is so soft that it makes up for it from the moment it starts. Also, Mr Bird really understands that this is about identity, not ecology. And I love that! Ooh, he is really very awesome. Also, he changed “gold” to “Aquamarine” and I like that rebellion about him. When he sings that “Green is all you can be” you really believe it. Adorable. Whistling interval, and use of violin also really add to the track. I can imagine myself listening to this if I were feeling down and feeling uplifted for it. 8/10 with points deducted for the funeral music intro and outtro which totally takes you out of the song, but points added for the whistling and the lyric changes and the belief in the song from its artist.

I Hope That Something Better Comes Along – Matt Nathanson

I really love this track because the singer is making it his own (he even changed “Under your collar” to “Underneath your collar”). It is actually my all-time favourite track of the album. I feel as though he really sings deep from his own soul knowing the feel of living with/without something pretty well. The tune is very peaceful and dreamy and has SOUL. After all that fear and rock and roll it is like a cozy armchair to finish up in. 9/10 with points only deducted because the original had a little more Oompf, but points added for the lyric adjustments and the real DEPTH of the song.

I’m Going to Go Back There Someday – Rachael Yamagata

More ghosts…(aliens?) seem to take over the track for the finale,  which is sung with considerable amounts of gravatas in her voice. All raspy and sexual. And there seem to be cute fairground references in the background which hint back at the balloons and adventure that started this song in the movie. Oooh, and there is some strange birdish flute. Oooh! But I get really wrapped up in the song and keep forgetting that I am reviewing. I like that about this song for sure. Oh! It happened twice, actually. Hmm…maybe its not as bad as the ghosts make it out to be. 6/10 with points deducted because it is quite alien and not at all inviting, and yet points added for making me forget I am listening to it and slipping under my skin.

Overall, I would rate the album 8/10. There is very little originality to the artists’ covers (with The Wishing Song and Something Better as notable exceptions. I dislike the scary elements, but I do feel as though it reflects the ‘soulful’ aspect of the Muppets that was more evident during Jim’s time than is now. We have perhaps grown too used to the Muppets being funny first, crazy second, edgy third and only soulful somewhere further down the list.
I would certainly recommend buying the album because it draws you in and sets your mind at peace (while frightening the bejeezus out of you) and occasionally rocking out!
Compare new to old with an old-school compilation of the originals here:
And get excited for tomorrows unveiling of Ok, Go’s The Muppet Show Theme Tune Music Video feat. The Muppets (Go figure) by watching an exciting behind-the-scenes feature here (featuring Pigs in SPACE, Pops, Nigel, Uncle Deadly and a Purple Frackle!, amongst others) or here at Tough Pigs featuring Dr Tooth in a bed and a very fluffy Fozzie.
Stay tuned for our indepth, quasi-deep, insightful review of said Music Video tomorrow (assuming the video drops in time and I do not have to break it out of the Disney Vault…)

One thought on “It’s Not That Easy Being the Green Album (Not a Great Title)

  1. The Wishing Song is only one of the most beautiful songs on the Muppet Show. It's the one Gonzo sings in the Madeline Kahn episode. Go watch it and you'll see what made me adore Gonzo in the first place. -jamie

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