It’s time to play the music, light the lights, and get things started on this muppetational celebrational of our favorite moments with Kermit and the gang…
The Muppets have been an entertainment institution for more than 50 years, and whether they’re guests on a talk show or stars of an ABC mockumentary, Jim Henson’s creations have made a huge impact on people’s lives. With so many films, TV shows, merchandise, and more that feature Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and the rest, how can any article talk about even 100 of their best moments, let alone seven? Yeah, we don’t know what we were thinking either.
And yet, here we are, exploring the top 7 funniest, tearful, hopeful, muppetiest moments in the puppets’ long history. Some are more recent than others, but all have a way of reminding us just why we loved all these characters in the first place, on top of showcasing the brilliance of their late mastermind, Jim Henson. So, why don’t we get things started on what we call the Muppet Top 7?
7. I Can Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu)
Muppets Most Wanted is Kermit’s most recent film, and despite good reviews and an impressive cast, it wasn’t all that successful. Why didn’t people want to see the Muppets tour Europe and deal with an evil Kermit impersonator?! Those poor saps missed out on the film’s high point, Kermit-doppelganger Constantine singing an ’80s style ode of devotion to Miss Piggy, with the earworm-worthy “Cockatoo In Malibu” hook. It’s a catchy, comedic song that’d work great on Flight of the Conchords, not surprising since the song was written by one half of the band.
The extended version gives Bret Mckenzie ample room to show off his Oscar-winning composition abilities, and amps up the early era music video cheesiness. Sure, I don’t know what kids will be entertained by very specific reference to a musical style, but this moment wasn’t for them. This great moment of post-Henson music is a great reminder that the Muppets can still be loads of fun no matter what decade it is.
6. The Great Muppet Caper’s Bike Ride
Sure, the Muppets have always been about making people happy in an old school, Vaudevillian style of show business, but I’d say that’s only half of what Jim Henson’s vision. The other half was constantly pushing for technological advancement of physical puppetry, and using said tech to create scenes that seem physically impossible to create. Nowhere in Muppet history is that sense of “how’d they do that?” mystery on show than when the whole gang of Muppets ride bicycles around a London park.
Set to the original song “Couldn’t We Ride,” Kermit and Miss Piggy’s tender moment of reconnection via an adorable bike ride together touched me as a child. As an adult, I can’t help but marvel at the smoke and mirrors it took to make it look like foam n’ felt recreations of a frog and pig could ride bikes. Then the rest of the gang shows up and even now I can’t help but lose it seeing all the effort that went into making this scene look so damn effortless. If you ever wondered how they did it, below is Henson’s answer…
5. Turn The World Around
For the billions of dollars Muppets have made in merchandise, Jim Henson’s dreams of uniting humanity and multiculturalism were always in plain sight in his productions. You saw it more in Fraggle Rock, but the hippyish interest in the environment, world peace, connection, and love came up from time to time on The Muppet Show, especially when collaborating with artists like Harry Belafonte. Henson and Belafonte worked closely to create one of the show’s signature moments, this stirring rendition of Harry’s then-lesser-known song, “Turn The World Around.”
Your cynical reaction may be to see this as corny, but Belafonte and Henson sure didn’t see it that way when working hard to craft the perfect African mask-inspired Muppets for this closing number. Even without Belafonte’s above explanation of his love for working with Henson, you can see the care that went into this onscreen. Sure, there were funnier moments on The Muppet Show (like John Cleese pulling apart Gonzo), but this is the one that still stirs my heart the most decades later.