With the release of Muppets: The Green Album earlier this week, audiences have the chance to hear popular artists from a variety of genres cover a slew of Muppets favorites. In fact, the lineup on the soundtrack/promo album is so varied and talented that it has a chance to completely outshine the upcoming Muppets film that its trying to promote.
And for good reason. After listening to a few of the tracks, I can't help but feel like the upcoming Jason Segel-lead reboot of Jim Henson's franchise may actually be a bit underwhelming in comparison to the album.
Covers like "Movin' Right Along" by Alkaline Trio and "Rainbow Connection" by Weezer manage to hold on to the fun and airy feel of the Muppets while still retaining each band's original sound.
Oh, and OK Go's take on the "Muppet Show Theme Song" is really just a thumping, beat-filled mess of fun.
The sound and (probable) success of this album got me to thinking about other movie-related compilations and soundtracks that actually deserved hype and managed to overshadow their film counterparts.
Snakes on a Plane (2006) While the movie was kind of fun and a campy disaster, Snakes on a Plane's soundtrack featured remixed tracks from some of the most popular and talented pop and rock bands of the day. The robotic techno version of The Hush Sound's "Wine Red" is a personal favorite, while the remix of Jack's Mannequin's "Bruised" is also delightfully enhanced by some background beats. Oh, and we cannot forget that the soundtrack practically created the now-popular dance pop group Cobra Starship.
TMNT (2007) It would be an understatement to say that the 2007 reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise was underwhelming. Simply nothing could replace the wonderfully awkward turtle suits made famous in the 1990s. The soundtrack for the film was its one redeeming factor. Most notably, Gym Class Hero's "Shell Shock," an original for the film, is an amazing ode to the green crime fighters. It is catchy, slick and sexy, all the while maintaining a level of intimacy to the film. The other tracks, by a smattering of popular pop groups, are also catchy, but nothing matches the awesomeness of "Shell Shock."
Empire Records (1995) The inclusion of this soundtrack on the list is an ode to it, and not a denouncement of the film. This 1995 youth vs. the man classic is a cheesy, overacted piece of 1990s gold. It will forever live in the hearts of all music lovers who hate the anonymous CD superstore that attempted to ruin the industry over the past two decades. For alt-rock fans from the past decade, the soundtrack is to die for. "Sugar High" by Coyote Shivers, who also appear in the movie, is particularly catchy due to its inclusion in one of the movie's significant scenes. Other notable tracks include local rockers the Gin Blossoms' "Till I Hear it From You," and "Liar" by The Cranberries.
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(500) Days of Summer (2009) Personally, I love this movie, but the soundtrack receives equally high marks in my book. And due to the love it or hate it nature of male-driven rom-coms, I feel justified in including both on this list. I don't know if I am alone in this, but I love when soundtracks include great artists and bands more than once when they happen to fit the feel of the film perfectly. The sound of The Smiths is an important part of the movie's atmosphere, so I was happy to see "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" and "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" on the track list. The same goes for Regina Spektor's "Us" and "Hero."
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SLC Punk (1998) This is another movie that I really enjoy, but I am still willing to admit that it has its faults as a film. The soundtrack, however, is a different story. It contains some of the best punk rock acts of the past half-century. Even more to the point, this soundtrack kind of makes the movie what it is. Without the great tunes, including Dead Kennedys' "Kill the Poor" and The Suicide Machines' cover of "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," I don't think I would have liked the movie nearly as much.