Saying that paying tribute to a beloved, time-honored franchise like the Muppets is a daunting task is an understatement. Since the 1976 debut of The Muppet Show, the televised and filmed antics of the lovable, rambunctious puppets found an ever-growing place in the hearts of, well, anyone with a heart. This is typified in the music of The Muppets, a songbook that explores life lessons and experiences through the lens of youthful innocence, joy, and melancholy, untainted by grown-up cynicism or an obvious marketing agenda. Arriving ahead of fall flick The Muppets, Muppets: The Green Album seeks to capture that musical magic for a new generation, calling on contemporary favorites like Weezer, Alkaline Trio, and the Airborne Toxic Event. Some tracks hit the mark: for the poignant Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas tune “Our World,” the spacious drums and yearning vocals of rootsy rockers My Morning Jacket elevate the lesser-known song to an almost hymnal state, while Norwegian indie popster Sondre Lerche conjures up his inner Muppet to deliver a rousing, stripped-down take on the Floyd Pepper and Scooter duet “Mr. Bassman” that brings the Muppet Show to the back porch. Similarly, retro-minded swinger Andrew Bird charms on the classic “Bein’ Green” with lilting vocals, delicate strings, and his signature whistling. But on the other end, some of the artistic choices on Muppets: The Green Album leave the listener with a question mark. OK Go step up to the challenge of the Muppet Show theme song, but here the band’s irreverence gets lost along the way, turning stiff and mechanical. And while gentle alt-rock hitmakers the Fray are about as unrestrained as they’ve ever been on the goofy “Mahna Mahna,” their version is almost identical to the original. Brandon Saller (Atreyu) and Billy Martin (Good Charlotte) have a similar struggle, embracing the rowdiness of Dr. Teeth & the Electric Mayhem for the Great Muppet Caper's “Night Life,” but replacing the boogie with grating riffs. Muppets: The Green Album freshens up the franchise for the newish millennium, and Generation Z listeners will enjoy hearing current artists in this different context, but other listeners may be left reaching for their classic Muppets fare.
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AllMusic Review by Chrysta Cherrie