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THE MUPPETS

Song And Dance
McKenzie penned the opening and finale song titled "Life's a Happy Song,” performed by Jason Segel, Walter and Amy Adams. "I wrote this in New Zealand when I was in a particularly good mood,” says McKenzie. "I sat down at the piano and it came out very quickly. It's a simple little song and James Bobin really liked it. He then asked me to make it into a gigantic musical number involving an entire town singing and dancing. That took the rest of the year. One of the highlights of the job was watching an orchestra play this song for the final score. I had, only a few months earlier, been sitting at home playing it on my piano and suddenly there was an entire orchestra playing my song. That was a magical moment.”

"‘Life's a Happy Song' starts off with Gary and Walter while they're brushing their teeth,” says producer David Hoberman. "They make their way outside and into Smalltown, USA, along the way picking up people who sing and dance along with them—the butcher, the baker, the milkman, the flower-shop keeper—everybody gets involved. It's one of those musical numbers that hearkens back to the old movie musicals of the '50s.”

The film tapped 60 dancers for the opening musical performance, and veteran choreographer Michael Rooney, son of Hollywood film legend Mickey Rooney (who performs a cameo in the film), stepped in to work his magic. "Michael choreographed all the dance numbers,” says Hoberman. "He has amazing energy; he's really creative and very nimble.”

Rooney says that the choreography came with its challenges as Muppets are typically shot from the waist up. "All my choreography had to be for them—Miss Piggy, Kermit, Walter and the rest—incorporating more of the hand [movements] above their waists because most of the footwork would not be seen.”

McKenzie also wrote a song called "Man or Muppet.” "It's a power ballad that deals with a man/Muppet identity crisis,” he says. "We've all been there. I hammered it out on the piano, imagining I was Harry Nilsson or Eric Carmen.”

The music supervisor says the song required strong vocal performances from both Jason Segel and Walter. "Luckily, they did an amazing job,” says McKenzie, who also wrote a song with Ali Dee called "Let's Talk About Me” for Chris Cooper. "Turns out he's dangerous on the mic,” says McKenzie of the actor.

Not to be outdone, Amy Adams and Miss Piggy teamed up for a duet created by McKenzie called "Me Party.” "It needed to be sad but also up-tempo, so I came up with a party track for the lonely. I wrote this song sitting in a cafe, drinking iced teas and getting weird looks from the waitress when I did Miss Piggy impressions. Amy Adams did a great job of channeling her inner disco diva. Miss Piggy was predictably difficult to work with; I think she was dealing with some personal issues.”

Also featured in the film is the original song "Pictures In My Head,” performed by Kermit the Frog, Fozzie, Gonzo, Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and written by Jeannie Lurie, Aris Archontis and Chen Neeman. Andrew Bird is the writer/artist behind the song "The Whistling Caruso,” a song performed by newcomer Walter in the movie.

While the new songs are sure to please, no Muppet movie would be complete without some signature songs. Disney's "The Muppets” features "Rainbow Connection,” written by Paul Williams and Kenny Asher, performed by Kermit the Frog and The Muppets, and, of course, "Mah Na Mah Na,” featuring Mahna Mahna and The Snowths. And, of course, a Muppet movie wouldn't be complete without covering classic rock songs and contemporary favorites. The Muppet Barbershop Quartet has taken on Nirvana's classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit,” while Camilla and the Chickens cluck their way through Cee Lo Green's hit "Forget You.”

"The Muppets don't sound like anyone else,” says McKenzie, "and that's what's great about them. It was a huge honor to work on the [film] and I took the job very seriously, even when I was recording a man pretending to be a penguin.”

"Life's a Happy Song” returns for the film's finale scene, which shut down Hollywood Boulevard for two evenings. "We had 80 dancers and 300 extras,” says Rooney. "It was huge, amazing and fabulous. I think the audience is really going to be blown away once they see it.”

Kermit agrees. "I love the finale,” he says. "It's got everyone in it—Jason, Amy, Walter and all the Muppets. I don't want to spoil the movie, but I think it's a very happy ending.”

From Walt Disney Records, the soundtrack for Disney's "The Muppets” hits stores and at online retailers Nov. 21, 2011, including:

· "The Muppet Show Theme”—The Muppets
· "Life's a Happy Song”—Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Walter
· "Pictures in My Head”—Kermit, The Muppets
· "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”—Paul Simon
· "Rainbow Connection (Moopets Version)”—The Moopets
· "We Built This City”—Starship · "Me Party”—Miss Piggy, Amy Adams
· "Let's Talk About Me”—Chris Cooper, Nathan Pacheco
· "Man or Muppet”—Jason Segel, Walter
· ”Smells Like Teen Spirit”—The Muppet Barbershop Quartet: Rowlf, Beaker, Link Hogthrob and Sam Eagle
· "Forget You”—Camilla and the Chickens
· "Rainbow Connection”—The Muppets
· "The Whistling Caruso”—Andrew Bird
· "Life's a Happy Song Finale”—Entire Cast
· "Mah Na Mah Na”—Mahna Mahna and The Snowths

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