muppets singing
Photo Credit: Disney

I don’t know about you, but for me; the music makes the movie! I am a HUGE fan of musicals and was super excited to get to sit down with Oscar winning singer/song writer Bret McKenzie on my recent trip to Los Angeles.  Muppets Most Wanted definitely did not disappoint when it came to the amazing music!  McKenzie won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets in 2012 and we set out to find out if that helped inspire him in his work on this Muppets movie.

bret mckenzie

QUESTION: You’re awesome. So your song Man or Muppet won an Oscar, congratulations on that.

Bret McKenzie: Thank you.

Question: While working on the music for this film did you have any pressure to try to meet that kind of standard again?

Bret McKenzie: Yeah I was, obviously yeah there was a lot of pressure because of the Oscar and, um, but really what could I do? It was, there’s always gonna be downhill, so, uh, I just had to, you know, I mean I was appreciative but then I had to get on with the job and just, you know, forget about that. ‘Cause I didn’t, I didn’t work on the last Muppet film to win awards, you know. Yeah.

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QUESTION: What’s the process like for when you’re told like what kind of song, just the idea of the song but how do you get the ideas going in your head and you don’t write lyrics first, the music first?  Just your creative process, how you put your songs together.

Bret McKenzie: Um, well they send me a script with the idea of a song and then, um, I, but it’s usually quite a loose idea. And then for example the ballad, um, it was originally called “Love Ain’t Easy,” and it was a Piggy ballad. And first of all I was nervous because Piggy is a great character, a great comedic character, but not a great singer, and, um, I was worried about her carrying, you know, an emotional ballad because there’s only so much of her voice that the audience, I think, wants to hear, you know. Thirty seconds is great, you know, then a couple of minutes you’re really start being a bit painful. So I suggested we put, um, you know, try and get a singer to help her and we were really excited when Celine Dion agreed, um, and I’m actually hoping that there’s a, I’m hoping that these two divas, you know, um, I’m hoping to get like a Las Vegas Celine Dion/Piggy, uh, Diva Night, um, that’s–– that’s my dream. Yeah. Anyway so then I would write the song and then adapt it for the characters and, and I’d–– I’d go to the, to James Bobin and play it to him and I’d, one of the stranger experiences on the job is I go to the Disney offices to play the songs to them.  And I sit at the piano and I, um, having done two Muppet films now I can do a fairly, uh, not good but I can do an okay impression of a lot of the different characters so I would say, “This is Miss Piggy’s ballad,” and I’d sit down in this room with all these suits, these Hollywood suits, and I would go, so Miss Piggy, she turns to the camera and she starts doing like this, [IMPERSONATES MISS PIGGY IN HIGH-PITCHED SINGING VOICE] “How can something so right, be so…” literally a crazy job that, I mean, and, uh, but kinda fun yeah so, I can do all those Muppet voices. Yeah. Uh, what else about the process? Um, and then sometimes you get a someone like Tina Fey who got the role of prison guard and I always wanted to do this doo wop song in there and then I started working with her and I adjusted the song to suit her voice because, um, it was the wrong pitch and we kinda worked together on find out what her strengths are, where her voice sits. And that’s one of the benefits of being the songwriter and producer of the songs as well is I can, if it’s not working I can just change the song. ‘Cause I’m allowed to whereas if it was someone else who’d written it I’d have to call them, “Do you mind if we change the melody?” Uh, so that was, it’s kind of a fun part of it too. And Ricky Gervais, of course, um, you, some of you might know he was a–– a sort of failed pop star in the ’80s, and his song, uh, his–– his little pop, yeah so he’s actually a really good singer. So it was handy. Yeah.

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Question: Do you have a favorite song from this film that you wrote?

Bret McKenzie: I really like the, um, I really, I mean, I like how all of, sometimes I write songs for these things and they, I don’t like the way they turn out in the final film because I don’t like the video or something changes in the edit and, um, but I–– I really think, uh, the music’s kinda, I think it’s, the film works really well, you know, I really like the–– the final film was made and I guess my favorite would be, I don’t know, I mean, the opening’s pretty fun. I think it really gets the movie off on a–– a great note. But I do like “I’ll Get You What You Want” brackets Cockatoo and Malibu closed brackets, uh, which is–– is the frogs, the bad frog trying to woo Miss Piggy.

miss piggy dressed up
Photo Credit: Disney

We have had the Muppets Most Wanted soundtrack on replay in our car for over a week now.  Thanks to McKenzie, now everyone in our house wants a “thingy thing” LOL  Be sure to take a look at the video below of McKenzie performing with Constantine for Miss Piggy; it is HILARIOUS!  These are definitely some of the catchy-est tunes we have heard in a while around our house!  I *think* we may have finally replaced the soundtrack to Frozen.

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MUPPETS MOST WANTED is NOW OPENED in theaters everywhere!

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