Soundtracking is a regular column that appears on looking at the music featured in the biggest new releases both in theatre and on home video. Shane McNeil looks at the soundtrack to Muppets Most Wanted.

Originally published on – March 24, 2014.

Well, if you missed it this past weekend, The Muppets are back on the silver screen.

Following on the heels of their 2011 eponymous success, Kermit and his pals returned to cinemas with a tough act to follow. And like its cinematic predecessor and 40 years of TV and film performances, Muppets Most Wanted is a musical showcase first and foremost.

But while The Muppets succeeded on a blend of familiarity and the genius decision to hire The Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie as primary songwriter and musical supervisor, that formula would be put to the test in the sequel.

While standout songs like “Life’s a Happy Song” and the Oscar-winning “Man or Muppet” helped make the first Muppet reboot a smash, it was also able to rest on nostalgia with show-stopping moments courtesy of the Muppet theme and “Rainbow Connection”.

McKenzie seems up to the challenge of a follow-up, poking fun at the demands of a follow-up with the opening number.

The Muppet crew are still, however, extremely self-aware while making a cinematic follow-up. If that opening number seems a little familiar, it might be that it’s similar to the opening of their first-ever sequel, The Great Muppet Caper.

And familiarity is something on which The Muppets knowingly capitalize. They know that half the audience in any given cinema probably consists of grown-ups that were raised on their previous films and shows. Where Muppets Most Wanted steps it up is by letting McKenzie do his thing and add a dash of his own brand of humour.

To see a good translation of the Conchords/Muppets crossover, check out the below video of McKenzie performing a song written for the new arch-villain Constantine:

Of course, Muppets Most Wanted still loads on its musical cues from both the Muppets past and from decades worth of pop music. After all, the entire concept of the Muppets is music hall revue, so paying tribute has always been a big part of the act.

Boyz II Men, Maroon 5 and the best use of Celine Dion in cinematic history all play a part in a film that’s part caper flick and part tour documentary. Muppet history is also paid its proper respect with a re-imagining of “Together Again”.

It’s tough to say how long the rebooted Muppets can stay successful, though historically speaking their movies tend to come in trilogies, factoring their late 1970s-early 80s boom and then the 1990s revival. Either way, audiences should enjoy it while it lasts.

As a parting gift, here’s my all-time favourite Muppets musical moment.