Kermit and Miss Piggy for best original song?

2011-12-29 00:00

THE competition in the Oscars’ best original song category­ could come down to Elton John vs Mary J. Blige, or Jonsi vs Chris Cornell, or Zooey Deschanel vs Glenn Close. Or it could just be Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy flattening everybody in their way.

The academy announced the 39 qualifying songs in this year’s race, with a handful of big names in the running — but one Golden Globes nominee, Madonna, conspicuously missing.

Masterpiece, a Madonna song from W./E. that received a Globe nomination last week, did not qualify for Oscar contention because of its placement a minute-and-a-half deep in the final credits. AMPAS rules require an end-credits song to be “the first music cue” in those credits to qualify.

And while it’s extremely unlikely that Oscar voters will go the path of the Golden Globes to recruit an almost-exclusively star-heavy slate, the opportunities exist to do just that, even without Madonna.

The animated films in contention, for example, contain songs by Elton John (Love Builds a Garden and the Lady Gaga duet Hello Hello from Gnomeo & Juliet), Zooey Deschanel (So Long from Winnie the Pooh), Black Eyed Peas member (Hot Wings from Rio) and Brazilian legend Sergio Mendes (Real in Rio from the same film).

Other contenders include eight-time Oscar winner (and 19-time nominee) Alan Menken, who wrote the mock USO-style song Star Spangled Man from Captain­ America.

A couple of alternative-rock icons, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell and Sigur Rós Jonsi, are represented with songs from Machine Gun Preacher and We Bought a Zoo, respectively.

But given the voting system in place in the category, in which members of the Music Branch must score the songs after watching clips of the scenes in which they appear, the three submitted songs from The Muppets must be considered formidable competitors.

Two, Life’s a Happy Song and Man or Muppet, are by Bret McKenzie, one half of the comedy-music duo Flight of the Conchords, those songs and Kermit’s plaintive lament Pictures in My Head are all used in sequences that ought to play well to voters.

Members of the branch can view and score the three-minute clips on DVDs that will be sent to voters, or at special academy screenings. To be eligible for nomination, songs must receive an average score of at least 8,25 on a scale of six to 10.


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