A few years back the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences switched up the rules for Best Original Song, making the hurdles a track had to clear in order to get nominated a little more difficult and introducing the possibility that no songs at all would be nominated during a particular year. (You can read a somewhat simplified explanation of the rules at the bottom of this press release.) This morning the nominees for this year’s Oscars were announced, and out of the 39 songs in contention for the gold statuette next month, a grand total of two were chosen as being good enough for the big prize. Exactly zero of them were up for the Best Original Song category at the Golden Globes—the winner of that category, Madonna’s “Masterpiece,” didn’t even make the nomination-eligible cut. Both songs are, however, from films that feature anthropomorphic members of the animal kingdom! The two tracks up for awards, below.
NOMINEE THE FIRST:
“Real In Rio” (Rio): Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, lyric by Siedah Garrett
If you have the Rio-themed spinoff of Angry Birds, you might recognize the introduction to this track. (Hush. It’s a fun subway diversion.) Lyricist Siedah Garrett is co-wrote Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” and served as MJ’s foil on the Bad ballad “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”:
I’m just thankful that “Hot Wings (I Wanna Party),” will.i.am’s Jamie Foxx-assisted contribution to the animated film’s soundtrack, didn’t get nominated, because do we really need him to show up on TV again? (Oh, who am I kidding, he’ll probably sneak his way in somehow.) Actually he’s on “Real In Rio” as one of the “Rio Singers.” Gahhhh.
NOMINEE THE SECOND:
“Man Or Muppet” (The Muppets): Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
There were lots of fantastic songs in The Muppets, many of which were penned by former Flight of the Conchord Bret McKenzie, and indeed, three of those tracks were in contention for nomination this year. McKenzie talked to The Times about how the existential nature of this ballad affected his lyric-writing: “What is a man? What is a Muppet? No. The problem with the Muppets is you can’t call them puppets, which doesn’t leave me any rhyming words with Muppets. You might notice that I rhyme Muppet with Muppet.”
One wrinkle from the nominations process worth noting: “If no song receives an average score of 8.25 or more [from the people voting on nominees], there will be no nominees in the category. If only one song achieves that score, it and the song receiving the next highest score shall be the two nominees.” So did both of the above songs reach that qualifying score, or only one? And if the latter is the case, which one won out? (I’m going to guess the Rio song because of the combination of its principals’ collective veteran status and my cynicism about the back-patty nature of the Oscars’ non-major categories. This is an awards extravaganza, after all, where John WIlliams is up against John Williams in the Best Original Score category, while Trent Reznor and Cliff Martinez (the guy who did the music for Drive) are nowhere to be seen.)
Meanwhile, I wonder if there only being two songs up for the award means that each track will get airtime on the show? Nah, probably not. Poor music. You are so maligned by everyone.