2011 Best Original Song - Longing for the Rainbow Connection

2011 - Best Original Song

The nominees were...

"Man or Muppet," The Muppets
"Real in Rio," Rio

WON: "Man or Muppet," The Muppets

SHOULD'VE WON: "Real in Rio," Rio

In the category of Best Original Song at the 1979 Oscars, I sided with The Muppet Movie's "The Rainbow Connection" over that year's actual winner, "It Goes Like It Goes," from Norma Rae. Composed by the legendary Paul Williams, "The Rainbow Connection" was a sweet heart-tugger, performed just heavenly by Kermit the Frog (AKA Jim Henson).

"The Rainbow Connection" had so many great qualities, nearly all of which are missing in "Man or Muppet," one of composer/Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie's four original tunes from 2011's otherwise-amusing The Muppets. The song is charmingly performed by Jason Segal and Peter Linz (featuring Jim Parsons and Bill Barretta) and I dig McKenzie's attempt to deliver a send-up of Elton John adult contemporary, but the tune just doesn't catch fire, really isn't all that funny and lacks the heart that's so often found in the best Muppet songs.

In a supreme eyebrow-raiser, the Academy nominated just one other song in 2011 - again, a product of the category's bizarre points system - and that one isn't so extraordinary either, though I do ever-so-slightly prefer it. Rio's "Real in Rio" may not be especially catchy or even very memorable but it does at least have a ton of energy and enthusiasm behind it, with solid instrumentals by the brilliant Sergio Mendes.

No surprise, there actually were great original songs to be nominated in 2011 - most notably, Mary J. Blige's "The Living Proof" from Best Picture nominee The Help and Sinead O'Connor's "Lay Your Head Down" from Glenn Close Oscar vehicle Albert Nobbs - but the screwy nominating system here did them in.

The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...

  1. "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  2. "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
  3. "Streets of Philadelphia," Philadelphia (1993)
  4. "Lose Yourself," 8 Mile (2002)
  5. "High Hopes," A Hole in the Head (1959)
  6. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  7. "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
  8. "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
  9. "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," Dirty Dancing (1987)
  10. "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  11. "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
  12. "Let the River Run," Working Girl (1988)
  13. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  14. "Under the Sea," The Little Mermaid (1989)
  15. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
  16. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," The Lion King (1994)
  17. "Beauty and the Beast," Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  18. "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
  19. "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
  20. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
  21. "Fame," Fame (1980)
  22. "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
  23. "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
  24. "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
  25. "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  26. "Take My Breath Away," Top Gun (1986)
  27. "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
  28. "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
  29. "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  30. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
  31. "A Whole New World," Aladdin (1992)
  32. "My Heart Will Go On," Titanic (1997)
  33. "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Flashdance (1983)
  34. "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," Arthur (1981)
  35. "I Need to Wake Up," An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
  36. "Last Dance," Thank God It's Friday (1978)
  37. "Colors of the Wind," Pocahontas (1995)
  38. "Falling Slowly," Once (2007)
  39. "You Must Love Me," Evita (1996)
  40. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)," Dick Tracy (1990)
  41. "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  42. "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
  43. "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
  44. "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
  45. "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
  46. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
  47. "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
  48. "The Weary Kind," Crazy Heart (2009)
  49. "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," Hustle & Flow (2005)
  50. "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae (1979)
  51. "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
  52. "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
  53. "I Just Called to Say I Love You," The Woman in Red (1984)
  54. "Up Where We Belong," An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  55. "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  56. "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
  57. "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
  58. "Evergreen (Theme from A Star Is Born)," A Star Is Born (1976)
  59. "Al otro lado del río," The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
  60. "Things Have Changed," Wonder Boys (2000)
  61. "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
  62. "Into the West," The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  63. "Man or Muppet," The Muppets (2011)
  64. "We Belong Together," Toy Story 3 (2010)
  65. "Jai Ho," Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  66. "If I Didn't Have You," Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  67. "You'll Be in My Heart," Tarzan (1999)
  68. "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
  69. "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
  70. "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  71. "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
  72. "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
  73. "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
  74. "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
  75. "When You Believe," The Prince of Egypt (1998)
  76. "Say You, Say Me," White Nights (1985)
  77. "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  78. "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)