We kick off our Oscar winner-prediction coverage this year with the category even AMPAS wants to flush. What exactly does the presence of two nominations signify? It doesn't mean that only two songs were deemed worthy of a nomination. It actually means only one of them broke through the baseline rating required for a nomination (an 8.25 rating, if that clarifies anything), and Academy rules pushed the next-highest-ranking candidate in to simulate a contest. By that measure, in a year during which “Over the Rainbow” represented the only decent song from a movie, “Over the Rainbow” could've theoretically been forced to compete against a song composed entirely out of farts, even if the latter received a score resembling Miss Poogy's typical blood alcohol level, so long as the fart ditty happened to be next in line.
Because the category's nomination process now discourages nominations for most of the songs that audiences hear for 30 seconds as they fight to be the first one out the door when the closing credits roll, and because the music branch moves the goalposts around regarding what establishes “eligibility” as an annual rite, we're left with a paradoxical Oscar category that's both a clear, vestigial relic of the Broadway Melody era, but also 212.5 percent more exclusive than the awards' most prestigious category. As to which of the two songs earned its nomination the hard way this year, my hunch is that more members of the music branch are likely to regard “Real in Rio” composers Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown, and Siedah Garrett as household names than can be expected to own Flight of the Conchords on DVD. But expect Academy voters at large to pass over Rio's tropical Happy Feet rip in favor of Jason Segel and Walter's bi-curious piano balladry.
Will Win: “Man or Muppet,” The Muppets
Could Win: The one other song that's nominated.
Should Win: “Fuck the Poog Away,” The Muppets