The Muppets Studio has been posting a series of Muppet viral videos on online video sharing websites starting in 2008. (These videos are tagged with the word "virmup" to note them as a set.) The first set of videos in 2008 were posted on accounts created for individual characters, including Sam the Eagle, Gonzo, Beaker, the Swedish Chef, Statler and Waldorf, Fozzie Bear, Rizzo the Rat and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew. In 2009, the videos were posted under a central Muppets Studio account on YouTube.
The Muppets' rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", posted on Thanksgiving week 2009, was especially popular, and reached more than 17-million views on YouTube within its first year online. The video won Webby Awards in both the Music and Viral categories, including the People's Choice in both categories.
The videos have proved popular since their initial release. All original music releases of the videos have gained over 1,000,000 views.
|June 27, 2008||Stars and Stripes FOREVER!!
Sam the Eagle leads a penguin, the Swedish Chef, a chicken, Bobo the Bear, Beaker, Animal and Crazy Harry. Sam attempts a reading of the U.S. Constitution as the others perform a rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever" by John Philip Sousa. American patriotic images such as the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and hot dogs cascade behind them.
|July 16, 2008||Ode to Joy
|July 16, 2008||Classical Chicken
Gonzo and some chickens perform "The Blue Danube Waltz" by Johann Strauss II.
|July 16, 2008||Habanera
The Swedish Chef and Beaker perform the "Habanera" aria from Georges Bizet's opera Carmen. Animal provides assistance and the Chef eats Beaker at the end.
|July 17, 2008||Meh, Blech, Mmph, and Hrmph
Four different insulting responses to popular YouTube videos by Statler and Waldorf; on other websites, the videos stand alone as random critical curmudgeonism.
|October 20, 2008||Rolling with the Skateboarding Dog
Fozzie records a skateboarding dog at the beach with comments from Rowlf, Rizzo the Rat and Gonzo.
|October 23, 2008||The Skateboarding Dog Gets Served
Rizzo and Rowlf make a skateboarding dog video of their own.
|October 26, 2009||Muppet Labs Experiment 2Q975: Carve-O-Matic
Bunsen tests out his pumpkin carving machine with Beaker.
|October 26, 2009||Muppet Labs Experiment 5T832: Ghost Hunt
Bunsen and Beaker investigate a haunted house.
|October 26, 2009||Cårven Der Pümpkîn
|November 23, 2009||Bohemian Rhapsody
|December 9, 2009||Ringing of the Bells
The Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal sing the song. Animal leaves to find a big bell, which falls on Beaker.
|February 8, 2010||Beaker's Ballad
Dressed in hippie clothing, Beaker meeps to the tune of "Dust in the Wind", but the screen constantly gets filled with annotations, most of which are negative comments.
|April 1, 2010||Stand By Me
Big Mean Carl lures some rabbits for his meal with a song.
|May 27, 2010||American Woman
Sam the Eagle tries to sing a karaoke version of the song, and is quite shocked when Kermit informs him that the song is actually Canadian.
|July 2, 2010||Pöpcørn
The Swedish Chef prepares popcorn shrimp to the tune of Hot Butter's "Popcorn." The video also provides captions, although the caption writer admits that they have no idea what the chef is saying; they just try to write it phonetically, which even the writer can't spell.
|April 24, 2009||Webby Awards: Beaker for the Win
A campaign video for Beaker to win the 2009 "People's Voice" Webby Award. The video was posted under various Muppet profiles with varying names, including "Beaker for the Win" and "Beaker Never Wins."
The original version contained music from Clint Mansell's score for Requiem for a Dream. This was replaced with a version using stock music on April 28. This video was removed from YouTube after the Webby voting ended.
|April 27, 2009||Auto Tune - Ode To Joy - Beaker For The Win!!
A campaign video for Beaker to win the 2009 "People's Voice" Webby Award featuring a remixed version of Beaker's "Ode to Joy" using an auto-tuner on the vocals and included instructions on how to vote for the Webbys. The video was posted under various Muppet profiles with varying names, including "T-Pain's in Love with a Beaker", "Kanye West Spoof - Beaker Auto-Tune!", and "Auto Tune - Remix Ode To Joy!" The video was removed from YouTube after the Webby voting ended; however, a copy of the video is still available on Vimeo.
|December 8, 2008||Glad All Over
A lip-sync video featuring clips and outtakes from A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa was posted under the various Muppet profiles to promote the premiere of the NBC special. This video was removed from Youtube after the special aired; however, copies of the video are still available on Vimeo. It was re-posted to the Muppets Studio YouTube channel in December 2010 under the title "Blooper Compilation for 'A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.'" The video was also posted on Muppets.com and was included as a special feature on the DVD release of A Muppets Christmas.
|April 21, 2010||TWO WEBBY NOMINATIONS!!! Animal spreads the word . . .
Animal calls his mother to tell her that "Bohemian Rhapsody" has been nominated for a Webby Award. This video was removed from the Muppets' YouTube page, but it still can be seen on Queen's YouTube page.
|April 27, 2010||Bohemian Rhapsody [Kermit's Commentary]
Kermit tries to give some behind the scenes info, but all his friends are trying to join in.
|May 10, 2010||The Muppets: Good News For Mama
|September 9, 2010||The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora- Coming Soon!
|December 24, 2010||I Believe
|May 9, 2011||Kermit the Frog at the World Premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Kermit reports from Disneyland for the "black-carpet" premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He interviews various celebrities and even gets several kisses. The video also promotes The Muppets.
Interviewees are Jerry Bruckheimer, Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas, Penelope Cruz, Rob Marshall, Johnny Depp, Steven Tyler, Geoffrey Rush, Keith Richards, Bruno Tonioli, Vanessa Hudgens, Teri Hatcher, Martin Short, Ian McShane, and Kirstie Alley.
The series launched on June 27, 2008 with Sam the Eagle's "Stars & Stripes FOREVER!" posted to YouTube, MySpace and Vimeo. Three abstract music videos followed on July 16 posted by Gonzo, Beaker and the Swedish Chef.
Fozzie Bear added a video on October 20, 2008 of the Muppets' visting Tyson the skateboarding bulldog at Huntington Beach. Rizzo the Rat launched a profile on October 20th as well; and posted a video response to Fozzie's video featuring Rowlf the Dog on October 23rd.
On October 26, 2009 three new Halloween videos were posted on YouTube. The Swedish Chef's pumpkin carving video, and two Muppet Lab sketches posted by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew ("Carve-o-matic" and "Ghost Hunter").
Each video closes with critical comments by Statler and Waldorf, who also posted four independent heckling shorts under their own account in July 2008.
The Muppets Studio head Lylle Breier stated at a 2009 D23 presentation that more viral videos were planned for 2010 - including "Dust in the Wind", "American Woman", "Popcorn", "Carol of the Bells" and "Stand By Me".
In fall 2009 the first four shorts were made available for download at The iTunes Store.
Development & production
Steve Whitmire spoke of the development of the project in a 2008 interview, stating:
“The idea for that came from the whole department at Disney. Actually it was Dave Cook who decided we should originally be involved in that. So kudos to the executive force, you know? I had a lot to do with putting it together, making it work, along with the guys from a company called Soap Box, which I think is an outside production company that was brought in to produce the pieces. Great group of guys.”
Awards & recognition
Beaker's "Ode to Joy" video was nominated for a People's Voice Webby Award in April 2009. (A previous Muppet video series, From the Balcony, won a Webby in 2007.) The public was invited to vote in the Webbys' "People's Voice." Two campaign videos were posted on several of the Muppets' accounts in to support the effort. It was announced in May that "Ode to Joy" won the People's Voice award.
The Muppets' rendition of Queen's "Bohemian's Rhapsody" won Webby Awards in both the Music and Viral categories, including the People's Choice in both categories.
- See the image on right for an example of the "virmup" tag on YouTube.
- As of November 24, 2010: 12,083,469 views of the original posting on the "meepmeepmeepow" account, and 2,433,633 views of the HD version on the "MuppetsStudio" account.
- 2010 Webby Winners
- Muppets at D23: Movies, DVDs, and Merchandise News!
- The Muppets at D23
- D23 Update: Special Muppets Presentation
- Tough Pigs Interview
- 13th Annual Webby Awards Nominees and Winners, Webbyawards.com.
- 2010 Webby Winners
- Sam Eagle (patrioticeagle)
- Beaker (meepmeepmeepow)
- The Great Gonzo (weirdowhatever)
- The Swedish Chef (deumnborkborkbork)
- Statler & Waldorf (heckleu247)
- Fozzie Bear (wockawockabear)
- Rizzo the Rat (rizzratz)
- Dr. Bunsen Honeydew (themuppetlabs)
- Vimeo accounts
- MySpace profiles