Academy Awards 2012: 'Man or Muppet' wins for original song
“Man or Muppet,” penned by Bret McKenzie, took the Oscar for original song, besting the only other nominated work in the category, “Real in Rio.” The winning song, from Walt Disney Pictures’ “The Muppets,” the first film featuring the iconic Jim Henson characters in more than a decade, was sung largely by Jason Segel and Peter Linz, who voiced the Muppet Walter.
“Man or Muppet” was one of three songs from “The Muppets” that were on the original shortlist for Oscar song contention. The song is one of the more sincere pieces of music in “The Muppets,” with Walter and Segel’s Gary caught in an identity crisis. Songwriter McKenzie is best-known for his work on “Flight of the Conchords.”
“Real in Rio,” from animated film “Rio,” was composed by Brazilian musicians Sérgio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, with lyrics penned by pop songwriter Siedah Garrett. It was one of three songs from the 20th Century Fox film on the original shortlist for Oscar song contention, and is repeated at multiple parts in the film.
A total of 39 songs were on the shortlist for Oscar consideration, including works from the Bollywood film “DAM999” and biopic “Machine Gun Preacher.” Clips of all 39 songs were screened to voting members of the academy’s music branch, and nominees were determined by an averaged point system of voting.
If no song receives an average score of 8.25 or higher, there are no nominees. If only one song achieves that score, it and the song receiving the next highest score are the two nominees. If two or more songs (up to five) achieve that score, they are the nominees.
Last year, four songs were nominated, and the winning track was Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3.” The nomination process for original song has been a matter of debate since the 2008 awards, when three songs from “Enchanted” were nominated. Likewise, three songs from “Dreamgirls” were nominated at the awards that aired in 2007.
A rule change was instituted for the 2009 ceremony, stating that a maximum of two songs may be nominated from any film. If more than two songs from a movie achieve a score of 8.25 or more, the two with the highest scores are the nominees.
To be eligible, a song must consist of words and music, both of which are original and written specifically for the film. A clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition of both lyric and melody must be used in the body of the film or as the first music cue in the end credits.
The Academy Awards are taking place Sunday night in Hollywood and are being televised live on ABC. They are presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, whose membership was recently examined in depth by the Los Angeles Times.
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-- Todd Martens
Photo: Walter (a Muppet, of course), Jason Segel and Amy Adams in "The Muppets." Credit: Scott Garfield / Disney