Kermit may have some skills on the banjo, but no Muppet rocks harder than Animal. So it’s only fitting that he represented the entire plush puppet crew on the Tonight Show last night with OK Go. The Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem drummer freaks out Keith Moon-style, pounding away on a fun pastel-colored take on the Muppet Show theme song (which also got a great music video).
Jim Henson’s Muppets have been spreading silliness for close to 40 years. Cheeky American rockers, OK Go, have only been spreading silliness, largely in viral video form, for about five years. So when veteran, fictional characters team up with the band that leads the industry in goofy music videos to cover “The Muppet Show Theme Song,” expect greatness. The band and the famous fuzzy animals joined forces for the lead track off the Muppets Tribute Album, The Green Album, out today and reviewed this morning.
Though they’ve never really dropped off the map completely, Jim Henson’s lovable Muppets seem to be enjoying something of a cultural resurgence lately. A lot of that probably has to do with the upcoming Jason Segel/Amy Adams film simply called The Muppets, as well as the fact that many people who enjoyed the characters as kids are now coming to the age where it’s acceptable, even desirable, to embrace their childhood loves again.
You can add The Green Album to the list of cultural artifacts presaging the return of these creatures to full-on popularity. The record’s aimed exactly at the people described above, who in the years between their childhood and now have cultivated “cool” tastes, of which the Muppets have become a part. One look at the pedigree of bands and artists contributing to this compilation can’t help but impress — Weezer, My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird and the rest all stand in the upper echelons of their respective fields, and it’s rare that any kind of tribute album could cull such noteworthy acts together.
Seems like everyone made more resolutions than usual this year. It’s easy to see why. After what everyone but China agrees was a decidedly crappy decade, the opportunity for a fresh start, however artificial, feels revitalizing. The individual New Years Resolutions will quickly fade as always, but hopefully the collective optimism towards a new decade has more staying power.
OK Go – This Will Be Our Year (The Zombies)
The Zombies released this single early in 1968, but sadly their optimism was misplaced — by the time it hit stores the band had already broken up. [Buy]
The Dresden Dolls – New Years Day (U2)
The tag says “12/31/03,” but the 10-9-8 countdown leading into this performance suggests that’s a few seconds out of date. This apt (if slightly clichéd) song turns romantic potential into rejuvenating possibility, Amanda Palmer singing “I will begin again” like an emotional cleansing. [Buy]
Easy Star All Stars – Fitter Happier (Radiohead)
A reggae Radiohead tribute album seems a shaky proposition, but it’s hard to deny the naming potential: Radiodread. Actually this cover is about as reggae as the original is pop, but that doesn’t stop the All Stars from translating the list of resolutions into Rasta-speak. [Buy]
The Flaming Lips – (Just Like) Starting Over (John Lennon)
This 1980 single hit number-one two weeks after Lennon’s death, persevering despite the fact that its b-side was Yoko Ono simulating orgasm in Japanese. [Buy]
Lyle Lovett – Blue Skies (Irving Berlin)
Irving Berlin wrote this as a last-minute addition to the obscure Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy in 1926, three years before the Great Depression hit. Though the show was a flop, the song was an instant success. On opening night the audience demanded star Belle Baker reprise the song a stunning twenty-four times. [Buy]
Elton John – Don’t Stop (Fleetwood Mac)
Rumours is one of the most depressing breakup albums in history, but “Don’t Stop” brings a rare glimmer of hope. The lyrics seem almost too cheery taken on their own, but in the context of such a painful album the forced positivity takes on all sorts of narrative nuances. [Buy]
Joe K’s Kid – Changes (David Bowie)
Featuring the best stutter since “My Generation,” the “Changes” single came smack in the middle of Bowie promoting his significantly weirder album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (last month’s Full Album). While the chorus seems optimistic on first listen, some strange lyrical twists make you wonder. [Buy]
Goldspot – Float On (Modest Mouse)
“Float On” comes off the aptly-titled Good News for People Who Love Bad News. “I was just kind of fed up with how bad shit had been going and how dark everything was, with bad news coming from everywhere,” songwriter Issac Brock told The A.V. Club. “I just want to feel good for a day.” [Buy]
Elliott Murphy – Better Days (Bruce Springsteen)
Bruce Springsteen has complained that when he made happy music in the early ‘90s, audiences turned away. He’s got a point. While righteous average-Joe indignation has always been a part of his appeal though, the fact that the two “happy” albums he refers to were his first without the E Street Band didn’t help matters. [Buy]
Muse – Feeling Good (Newley/Bricusse)
Another huge hit from a semi-obscure musical, “Feeling Good” comes from 1965’s The Roar of the Greasepaint – the Smell of the Crowd. The song gained prominence through a recording by Nina Simone, but rendition ain’t too shabby either — Total Guitar magazine named it the fifth best cover of all time. [Buy]
The next Full Album set, traditionally Cover Me’s first major post of the month, will go up next week.