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New Music by my favorite artists - Muppets and Ben Folds

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 07:56 -- rprice

When Disney bought the rights to the "main" Muppet characters, I have to say I was a little worried about what they would do with them. I grew up with these characters, and we are now certainly in the second or third generation of many Muppet players, so there are now many reasons for the original vision and spirit to get distilled.

Still - once a fanboy, always a fanboy - I can't get enough Muppet stuff, old or new.

I recently discovered something that was birthed out of the Disney/Muppets merger, namely The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora. It started as "Hasty Tasty Cooking Tips" which actually included live cooking demonstrations, and a really lame red buzzer timer to prove to the Internet viewers that this cooking was being done fast. Then they rethought the series and turned it into something more like a sketch from the Muppet Show or Muppets Tonight, but where the cooking seems to be already complete. This has pluses and minuses, and the new version is definitely more entertaining, yet a lot less educational. Still and all, it's worth watching, and I'm glad it exists.

The Muppets have been doing lots of stuff with the Internet - their YouTube page is prettey damn awesome, and the trailers for the new film "The Muppets" have been alright, but the original Muppet content - music videos - are really where it's at. It was during the release of this latest batch of trailers and music videos that I learned about The Green Album.

Finding this album was like discovering a pot of gold. The big discovery for me was an amazing song called Our World that I had to look up (don't tell!) to learn that it was from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, which is one of the few Muppet movies that was not available at my home growing up.

This album has some great tracks, some not-so-great. Andrew Bird's "Bein' Green" totally rocks, as do any songs that were sung by Gonzo in various Muppet films - he may be the George Harrison of the Muppets, and by extension, Dave Goelz. Dave doesn't get as much credit as Jim Henson and Frank Oz, but you can't pull of some of these pieces and characters without being a world-class Muppet performer.

If you're anything like me, you're also a huge Ben Folds fan. Interestingly enough, I haven't watched him host any reality shows - mostly because I hate reality shows - also because I didn't have a TV for much of the time he was getting started with that role. It looks like The Sing-Off has been picked up for a third season. Therefore, I might have to check it out.

The really exciting thing is the recent announcement of a career-spanning triple album by Ben called The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.

Where the release of a Muppet album introduces me to one new song, and makes me fall in love again with others, this one does that times three. As a superfan, I own many of these songs already, like all the ones from movie soundtracks and a few (un)official bootlegs or live cuts, but it's nice to have them here - a cool thing is the re-uniting of the Ben Folds Five lineup to record a few tracks that were written, never released. These are songs that were only available as bootlegs or leaked demos in the past - I'm excited to be able to have a decent version of Amelia Bright and Tell Me What I Did, for example. Then when I see a list of credits like this after a song:

Because the Origami (with 8in8 - Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman and Damian Kulash) makes my Spidey-Sense tingle. What can I say?

Because the Origami - 8in8 from Ben Jacobson on Vimeo.

If you have not seen the collaboration with Ben and the others, check out the album (Creative Commons, even), Nighty Night by 8in8. It's even a "name your own price" album. Just go check it out.


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