There may not be a more universally beloved comedy act than The Muppets. Created in the 1950s by noted genius Jim Henson, they appeal to the youngest of all, the oldest of all and everyone in between. In celebration of their newest filmic venture, Muppets Most Wanted, which is in theaters now, we give you the 9 Funniest Muppet Songs- partially because there are eight theatrical Muppet movies and one Muppet show, and partially because 9 is just a funnier number than 10.
Muppets From Space is the only theatrical Muppets film that isn’t a traditional musical, but it did feature a groovy collection of funk and soul tracks. So why not check out this slice of late-’90s nostalgia with The Dust Brothers’ cover of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s classic song? The purple hues and wonky futuristic metals of the film clips definitely remind me of some classic Parliament Funkadelic imagery.
Let’s list some facts: The Muppets are a national treasure. Tim Curry is a national treasure. Pirates are interested in acquiring national treasure. What happens when you throw these ingredients together? ...Let’s just say Nicolas Cage would be overwhelmed at how much national treasure is contained in this song. It takes a special kind of live-action performer to hold their own against the Muppets, but Curry’s Long John Silver is more than up to the task, even badgering them to move upstage, as it’s his only number. Also, I don’t know why everyone looks at that Pirate Goat so questioningly—“You don’t have to wear a suit” is a perfectly valid end to that lyric!
I’ve pointed out how cheerful and happy the Muppets tend to be, but the two old blowhards Statler and Waldorf are a notable exception. They’re quick to the punch with an insult, a denigration of what’s going on in front of them and a laugh that rivals Nelson Muntz’s in its catchiness (“Doh-ho-ho-ho!”). Thus, when the Muppets tackled our favorite Charles Dickens holiday tale (with Michael Caine as Scrooge, no less!), it only made sense to have these two sing about their wicked ways. Evicting an orphanage and laughing at frostbitten teddy bears? Cold, yet undoubtedly funny.
This is just straight up the world I want to live in. A world where a purposefully vague newspaper headline is worthy of shouting and singing about is a world that is much more cheerful, contagious and immediately funny than our current world where an engagement announcement on Facebook receives only a mere “like.” It’s a world where even inanimate objects want to join in the fun, as the tuxedos and bow ties sing the refrain in a powerful bass tone. However, those singing cakes the Swedish Chef conducts are more than a little terrifying.
Coming 12 years after Muppets From Space, writer/actor/Muppet lover Jason Segel scored a big coup in songwriter Bret McKenzie for his lovingly entertaining reboot. McKenzie brings his trademark Flight Of The Conchords wit and penchant for smooth, ‘70s soft rock sounds in this Oscar-winning ballad. The result is earnestly touching yet unabashedly silly—perhaps the purest distillation of the Muppets approach to comedy yet. Plus, they just nail Walter’s human counterpart right on the head.
When Kermit tells Fozzie to make a left at the “fork in the road,” there’s a small whisper in my brain that says: “Please, please, please let there be an actual giant fork in the road.” The fact that it shows up is proof positive that those Muppets are just on the same goofy wavelength as I am. Their destination may be clear (California!) and their song may be bouncy (Banjo!), but the distractions along the way are a bit much (Saskatchewan?). Bonus note: Singing “doon—ga-doon-doon-ga-doon” is now totally acceptable behavior on road trips.
I’ve stayed at a few hotels in my day, but never once have I been offered to pay by “sneaking out in the middle of the night.” The Happiness Hotel is blunt and upfront about the, ah, lack of glitz and glamor offered, and the song thus functions as a perfect study in comedic contrast. In other words, singing about how the whole place has gone to Hell has never sounded so bouncy and cheerful! Also, the image of those tiny bellhop rats scurrying along with those big ol’ bags is both the cutest and grossest thing I’ve ever seen.
When I watch this clip, featuring vaudevillian joke slinger Fozzie Bear and gruff-voiced maestro Rowlf, I immediately become a kid again. I watch them, slack-jawed, marveling not just at how quickly, accessibly and effortlessly funny their rapport is (“Can you play hatless?” “I don’t know, who wrote it?”), but also at how convincingly technically accurate their piano playing is. For two minutes, I completely forget that adult humans are controlling everything about what I’m seeing and hearing, and that level of transcendent hilarity is what the Muppets are about.
Picking up literally seconds after the previous film’s end, this catchy, self-aware and cheerfully satirical song is the perfect opening to, as Bunsen matter-of-factly reminds us, the seventh sequel to the original motion picture. I love the cavalcade of movie pitches Kermit hears (particularly the Swedish Chef’s penchant for artsy foreign fare), but my favorite punchline belongs to none other than the Great Gonzo: “We’re doing a sequel, the studio wants more / While they wait for Tom Hanks to make Toy Story 4.” If it means more beautifully crafted hilarity from our favorite felt friends, I will gladly keep waiting.