5 Muppet Songs More Overplayed Than “Rainbow Connection”

“Don’t you like music?” Franz asked. “No,” said Sabina, and then added, “though in a different era…” She was thinking of the days of Johann Sebastian Bach, when music was like a rose blooming on a boundless snow-covered plain of silence. 

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

“Rainbow Connection” is the greatest song from one of the greatest Muppet productions ever made. Because of its popularity, there are a lot of different versions of it, and this is a good thing because it means that everyone can pick the version that best suits their preference.

However, many members of the Muppet fan conglomerate think it gets played too often, and it makes them mad as hell. If they had their way, “Rainbow Connection” would get locked in a vault and only taken out every 15 years or so, like a lot of other Disney content.

And although I take verbal jabs at them for what I consider to be their misplaced vehemence over something that is relatively inconsequential, I have to admit that I sort of understand where they’re coming from. “Rainbow Connection” is a beautiful song, but there are other absolutely lovely Muppet songs, and it might be nice if some of them had more exposure.

And while I don’t get tired of “Rainbow Connection” itself, there are some versions of it that I like much better than others. For example, while I have listened to Matt Vogel sing it a few times, I am convinced that I could live out the rest of my life quite happily without hearing it him sing it again because I know now that he will never be Kermit to me. That sounds like a critique of his performance, and to some extent it is, but to a greater extent, it is a deliberate decision on my part. But that’s a topic for another time.

But I don’t get tired of the song itself. Ever. At least, I haven’t yet, and it’s been decades since I first heard it, so if it was going to happen, you’d think it would have occurred by now. Nevertheless, there are songs, including Muppet songs, that I DO get tired of hearing. In my opinion, the following Muppet songs are much more deserving of the fandom’s contempt due to overexposure than “Rainbow Connection.”

5. The Fraggle Rock Theme Song

When I was a kid, we didn’t have cable, and I only saw one episode of Fraggle Rock during that time because I was lucky enough to catch it one day at a friend’s house. And yet, I knew the theme song; maybe not enough to sing it, but at least enough to recognize it. Fraggle Rock was so popular at that time that the theme song was ubiquitous, so EVERYBODY knew it, whether they had seen the show before or not.

Not only that, but to this very day, every DVD menu, every special feature, invariably has the theme song playing in the background in addition to the opening and close of every episode. I’m not saying the Fraggle Rock theme is a bad song, but there were approximately 120 songs written for the series, and at least 99% of them are better. And yet, most of those extremely superior songs have all but faded into obscurity.

There is one exception to this rule: I don’t really mind the version of the theme song that plays
over the closing credits of the last episode. It’s different enough to feel fresh, and it segues so beautifully with that penultimate song that it’s very emotionally effective.

4. The Muppet Show Theme Song

I didn’t grow up with The Muppet Show either, but I still remember vividly where and how I first heard the theme song: It was on a commercial for a VHS release of The Muppet Movie and Caper that involved a special giveaway.

To this day, when it gets to the line, “It’s time to get things started,” what I hear in my head instead is, “… and you can get a free watch!” Since then, the Muppet Show theme has been severely overplayed. I remember one time that someone even used it as background music when the Sesame Street Muppets were making an appearance on Good Morning America. Of course, that may be less a function of the song’s ubiquitousness and more a reflection of the crew’s ignorance of which characters belonged to which branch of the Muppet family tree.

Speaking of those Muppet movie VHS releases, here’s a mildly interesting tangent: I remember that my younger brother got The Muppet Movie as a present in his Easter basket that year, but I don’t remember whether he got the free watch. If he did, he never wore it. That same year, I got a VHS of Doctor Doolittle (the musical from the ’60s, not the Eddie Murphy iteration), and oddly enough, while we each liked both movies, and enjoyed watching them together, I gradually gravitated more toward The Muppet Movie, and he became really enthusiastic about Doctor Doolittle (particularly the music).

3. “Can You Picture That?”

Okay, in absolute terms, “Can You Picture That?” is not more overplayed than “Rainbow Connection.” Proportionately, however, it is at least as overplayed, perhaps even more so. Every time the Electric Mayhem make an appearance somewhere, they play “Can You Picture That?” Every time … without fail. And yet, no one ever complains about it. Either there is a huge double standard at play here or the Electric Mayhem just doesn’t make enough appearances.

Another sidenote: As I understand it, this video was created to play on the screen during the Muppets’ set at the Outside Lands music festival in August 2016. That was just a few months before Steve was unceremoniously dismissed that October. Lips is only present sporadically in the video, which makes me wonder whether the people in charge were planning to take action against Steve sooner, and when they didn’t do so, for whatever reason, they had to shoot new footage for the video that included Lips to cover their tracks. Just a crazy fan theory; I have no evidence either way.

2. “C Is for Cookie”

There have been literally thousands of songs written for Sesame Street. Many of them are brilliantly sophisticated and hold up really well. Joe Raposo was an undisputed genius, but this isn’t one of his best efforts, in my opinion. Without the stellar performance by Frank Oz, this song would be nothing at all, and even with the performance, it’s not much. And yet, EVERY Sesame Street medley and compilation apparently needs to have this song. For some reason!

1. “Bein’ Green”

(Despite the YouTube title, I don’t think this is actually the original version of this song, but I also don’t care.)

It seems that “Rainbow Connection” only became Kermit’s signature song since the Disney sale. But I’m old enough to remember when Kermit’s go-to number was “Bein’ Green.” They even make a joke about it in “The Muppets at Walt Disney World.” If I were guessing, and I am, I imagine that, once Disney acquired the Muppets, the execs probably wanted to distance Kermit from that song because of its association with Sesame Street, or because they don’t have the rights to it, or something. And in this one instance, I am 100% behind the executives’ decision (if that’s what it was) because if those are my only two song choices, I will pick “Rainbow Connection” over “Bein’ Green” every time.

Since I seem to be lacking the part of my brain that allows me to get tired of “Rainbow Connection,” (no great loss), I don’t really understand fans’ ire about it when there are other songs just as deserving of their bile, if not more so. On the other hand, sometimes the issue seems to be less about the song itself and more about what it says about Disney’s lackluster management of the Muppets, with which I can certainly sympathize.

Nevertheless, getting mad about “Rainbow Connection” isn’t really looking at the big picture. The Muppets used to make YouTube videos in which they did parodies of pop songs because Steve was there and he was the one who had all the ideas for those parodies and cared enough to make them happen. So if the fan conglomerate really wants to hear the Muppets sing songs other than “Rainbow Connection,” perhaps they should have objected more strenuously when Disney got rid of the guy who had ideas for them to sing other songs when it might still have made a difference.

If their corporate complicity has had unintended consequences, they don’t really have the right to complain about it now.

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