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Muppets Viral Videos: The Muppets on You Tube
The Muppets in a New Medium
My generation was raised on the Muppets. I taught myself to read along with Sesame Street. Big Bird was my best friend when I was in pre-school. I saw all of the Muppet movies with my parents, even though I didn't laugh at the same parts they did.
I continued to appreciate the Muppets as I got older. I still enjoy watching old episodes of Sesame Street. I now laugh at the same parts of the Muppet films as my parents. When I go back and watch old episodes of The Muppet Show, I'm now impressed with the artistry of what they did, as well as laughing at the slapstick.
Well, the Muppets have now come to the Internet! Starting in 2009, Muppet Studios began releasing viral videos onto Youtube. As with the classic Muppet Show sketches, my favorites are the ones that employ music in some way. Below are a collection of these favorites -- sketches that are both funny and musically interesting, in true Muppet fashion.
"Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth - Performer by Beaker the Muppet
I love how this clip manages to be both humorous and musically interesting. I'm not sure which of the Muppeteers is performing Beaker here, but whoever it is, they have an excellent falsetto voice and very good pitch. Then there's the drummer and the violinist, who are able to take the music seriously in spite of the fact that they're performing with a Muppet who only says "meep". In short, all of the performers are committed to both the music and the humor in this piece.
The Blue Danube Waltz - by Gonzo the Great and his Pitch-Perfect Poultry
When I was in high school, I played piano in a chamber ensemble with a French horn player who hated Strauss. I'd never thought of him one way or another, but she convinced me that his music -- particularly his waltzes -- was boring and overrated. I hope she's seen this clip; I'm sure she'd feel that the Blue Danube Waltz gets exactly what it deserves.
Habanera from Carmen, by Georges Bizet - sung by Beaker, the Swedish Chef, and Animal
The Habanera is a Cuban dance that was popular in the 19th century. Georges Bizet employed the popular rhythm in his opera Carmen, about the forbidden love between a Gypsy and the soldier Don Jose, in what would become one of the best-known arias in all of opera.
In the Muppet Studio version, the Swedish Chef takes the bass line, Beaker takes the melody, and Animal shows up for a cameo. Enjoy the surprise ending!
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Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody - performed by The Muppets
I first heard Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody when it featured in the movie Wayne's World, which came out when I was in high school. The song was an effort by Queen to play with musical structure, unusual harmonies, and a plot that makes about as much sense as a typical opera. I feel like the Muppets lends a certain logic to the whole enterprise.
The entire Muppet appears in this video. I love that some of my obscure favorites, like Lew Zealand (the boomerang fish Muppet) and Crazy Harry (the "Bolshevik Muppet who's always blowing things up"), are worked into the lyrics. I also love that they found a use for the cast of Mahna Mahna -- watch for them around 2:20.
Carol of the Bells - Performed by Beaker, the Swedish Chef, and Animal
Beaker, the Swedish Chef, and Animal perform a Christmas classic. Animal, however, feels that more percussion is called for.
American Woman - Performed by Sam the American Eagle
Sam the Eagle performs that classic American song by the Guess Who, American Woman, in that classic American pass-time, Karaoke. "Guess Who? I don't know ... John Phillip Sousa, perhaps?" He is dismayed to find that the Guess Who are actually Canadian -- and he never does figure out that Karaoke is Japanese.
Stars and Stripes Forever - Performed by Sam the American Eagle and friends
Sam the American Eagle creates something never before seen on the World Wide Web (but can't we have a web just for Americans?) -- a tribute to Morality and Patriotism. And hotdogs.
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Popcorn *bork bork bork* - Performed by the Swedish Chef
The Swedish Chef teaches us how to prepare Popcorn Shrimp. While he waits, he's inspired to play the famous synthpop instrumental song Popcorn on his kitchen equipment. Famous, you say? Give it a listen -- it's one of those songs you've heard all over the place, even if you didn't know what it was called (I didn't).
Beaker's Ballad - Beaker meets the Internet
Beaker's voice is perfectly suited to this song, from a genre which a friend once called "adult contemporary whining". "At a certain point", he said, "I don't even hear words to these songs anymore. I just hear 'meow, meow, meow'!" Apparently someone from Muppet Studio agreed.
There's some great meta-humor here as well, because poor Beaker's performance is mocked by internet trolls as he sings it.