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Oscar winner 'Man or Muppet' goes where no Muppet has gone before

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The Bret McKenzie-penned "Man or Muppet," an identity crisis ballad that's the musical centerpiece of Walt Disney Pictures' 2011 film "The Muppets," has made Muppet history. Previous Muppet-related songs have been nominated for an Academy Award, but "Man or Muppet" marks the first-ever Oscar win for a Muppet film. Of course, "Man or Muppet" had solid odds, as it was competing against only one other song. 

Last year, four songs were nominated, and the winning track was Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3.”  McKenzie was asked backstage for his thoughts on this year's svelte original song Oscar category. "Man or Muppet" was competing against “Real in Rio,” from the animated film “Rio.”

"Well, I am not sure how [or] why they only nominated two songs, but I was very happy with that situation," McKenzie said, dodging the question with a little humor. "I think the system, you know, leads itself toward musicals instead of songs."

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Qualifying songs (there were 39 this year) are screened to voting members of the Film Academy’s music branch, who rate them according to a point system. Nominees were determined by averaged points, and there could be a maximum of five. McKenzie acknowledged that "Muppets" director James Bobin and star Jason Segel shared in the credit, if not the songwriting.

"To be honest, I think it was one of those musical numbers where everyone did a great job," he said. "James Bobin, the director, did such a cool video. Jason Segel just channeled his -- I don't know -- he went really deep in his performance, both in the recording and on the screen."

Whatever the magical ingredients, "Man or Muppet" has now earned its place in the Muppet canon. Previous Muppet-nominated songs include  "The First Time It Happens" from "The Great Muppet Caper" and the famed Kermit the Frog showcase that is the "The Rainbow Connection" from "The Muppet Movie." The latter lost to the "Norma Rae" song "It Goes Like It Goes," and "The First Time It Happens" was bested by Christopher Cross' "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from "Arthur."

"It's an honor to get this because 'Rainbow Connection' didn't win an Oscar, but there's no doubt that that song is, you know, an absolute, timeless classic, and this is nothing in comparison," McKenzie said.

But enough talk, here's a clip of the Oscar-winning "Man or Muppet."

And here's the song McKenzie praised as a "timeless classic."

ALSO:

Oscar 2012: Two nominated songs, lots of questions

Esperanza Spalding gets her 'Grammy moment' at the Oscars

Academy Awards 2012: 'Man or Muppet' wins for original song

-- Todd Martens

Image:  Bret McKenzie on the Oscar red carpet. Credit:  Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times 

 
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