When The Muppets made their big-screen return in 2011, it was a triumph for family-friendly comedy. The film was a heartfelt and very funny tribute to what it meant to be part of the Muppet family and also had all the belly laughs you’d expect from Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and co. As with most Muppets films, music played a huge part, with the inspired decision to let Flight of the Conchords man Bret McKenzie write the soundtrack even winning an Oscar for the film’s centrepiece ‘Man or Muppet’ (personally, I think ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ would have been a more fitting winner…). Three years later and the gang are back in The Muppets: Most Wanted, this time without Jason Segel and Amy Adams, but with Bret still very much in charge of the music. Will he be able to match the line ‘Life’s a fillet-o-fish’?
Thankfully, the humour remains intact and even stating the title of the first song on the album might spoil one of the film’s first jokes, but suffice to say it’s full of the freeform and all-encompassing approach Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem would take to their sound, while also having a Broadway feel, surprising cameos and a brilliantly self-aware and – at times- biting satire of Hollywood. Bret’s also managed to get an earworm to kick off the film which you will find yourself whistling, much like Walter in the last film, for weeks afterwards. The human stars of the film, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey and Ty Burrell, also lend their voices to some of the songs, with Ricky’s duet with the bad frog Constantine, ‘I’m Number One’, recalling the soundtrack to Disney’s Aladdin.
Quotes from the film are scattered throughout the album, including some of Statler and Waldorf’s cutting putdowns, while some huge names you may not be expecting make appearances too – Miss Piggy’s ‘battle of the divas’ perhaps being one of the most surprising. ‘The Big House’ is a soulful song about a Russian Gulag that has some expertly worded pop culture references, while ‘I’ll Get You What You Want’ manages to mix 80s-style disco pop (think Wham) with the lovelorn humour that made Flight of the Conchords such a success. Talking of that band, Jemaine Clement also sings one of the songs – surely it must be time for that reunion tour to come to these shores?
The Muppets go on a world tour in the film so it’s only natural that the songs have a continental flavour that gives wry nods to the location where the action is taking place. Christophe Beck’s score, performed by an 80-piece orchestra, is featured on the album and this Beetlejuice-era Danny Elfman sound carries on the sterling work he carried out on Frozen, but on a global scale. However, back to the Muppets themselves and the tongue-twisting ‘Interrogation Song’ finds Sam the Eagle and Ty Burrell’s Jean Pierre Napoleon (a fantastically funny double act) delivering some fine puns in cabaret fashion. Much like ‘Rainbow Connection’ in the previous film, there’s also a welcome return for a classic song from the Muppet archives. With the distinctive vocals of all your favourites, including Kermit, making this a great listen for all the family, this soundtrack is a brilliant memento of a very funny film that makes you yearn to hear more from Bret McKenzie.