Jim Henson modernized the age-old art of puppetry by using foam rubber to coat the puppets' limbs. Previously, most TV puppets were made of carved wood. But Henson believed that foam rubber and cloth brought more life to the puppets' movements.
Turns out he was right: Henson's puppet characters took over children's TV, making an indelible impact on millions of kids worldwide.
Puppets as a whole, however, are a difficult concept to pull off. In the hands of a lesser puppeteer, the lovable characters can look old-fashioned or, worse, creepy. Which is why they work so well for music videos.
In honor of Henson, we've collected our 10 favorite music videos featuring puppets, which showcase the myriad of effects that one can attain when utilizing this curious, quaint, yet still often-utilized medium.
Click on the jump for the puppety goodness.
By the time Weezer got around to releasing 2002'sMaladroit
, the band was in full-on post-hiatus mode, having already returned to the spotlight after a five-year absence with 2001's Green Album. A little help from the Muppets helped keep them there, with Animal sitting in for a kidnapped-by-Miss-Piggy Pat Wilson on the kit.
Not sinceTeam America
have we seen puppets do the nasty with such aplomb as in this video. Extra points go to the voyeuristic barn animals, who creep on the prurient puppets with video cameras in hand.
Brighton Port Authority is the current working moniker for British DJ Norman Cook, best known as Fatboy Slim. (He's been performing as BPA since 2008.) This track features Iggy Pop on vocals, and the video features an Iggy Pop puppet, complete with that trademark Cryptkeeper face and wiry limbs.
A day in the life of a promiscuous party girl who just happens to be a puppet. We wonder how many takes it took before the dude in the limo was able to make out with the puppet without laughing hysterically.
At a certain point in the '70s, the world at large decided that shock rock was a kid thing. Perhaps it started with KISS -- they were, after all, cartoonish characters perfect for fourth-grader Halloween costumes. Cooper capitalized on this by performing several of his most well-known hits on theMuppet Show
, backed by a horde of happy puppets.
In which Coldplay perform via puppet doppelgangers to an audience of confused-looking children. We're loving the teeny-tiny Marshall stacks. Makes us think that playing with Barbie dolls would've been a lot less lame had we access to a Barbie's Dream Amp accessory package.
It seems appropriate that adorable Lily's shiftless stoner brother is played by a puppet in this video. Goes with the generally cute theme of this soberingly anti-drug anthem.
When Cee-Lo Green turned up at the Grammys in an outrageous feathered costume this past February, the world collectively scratched its head. Let us put all confusion to rest with this video, which shows Elton, dressed as a bird of paradise, performing with the Muppets in a jungle setting. Cee-Lo's tribute to John's fabulous performance was witty, although it didn't quite measure up. No one wears feathers and big sunglasses quite as fabulously as Sir Elton.
Despite the near-deification that Reagan has received in recent years, there was a time when folks weren't so enthusiastic about his policies. This surreal concept video hearkens back to a time when a) some folks were mistrustful of Reagan's foreign policy, and b) surreal concept videos were considered artsy and deep.
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This hysterical collaboration between mighty metallers Mastodon and the folks at Cartoon Network features adorable puppets behaving in not-so-adorable ways. Some of it is tough to watch -- why kill puppets? -- but it's still pretty awesome.