The story: It's an odd year for the Oscars' Best Original Song category. Thanks to the Academy's ever-changing and increasingly labyrinthine rules, only two songs earned nominations. At first, critics weren't too troubled by the abbreviated list, since it included the comically existential Muppets ballad "Man or Muppet" (watch a clip below), written by Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie and performed by Jason Segel and Walter the Muppet. (Sergio Mendes' "Real in Rio" from Rio is the rival nominee.) But alas, Deadline reports, producers are planning to scrap the Best Original Song performances to shave precious minutes off the perennially overlong broadcast. Early reaction is fierce: Judd Apatow, Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, and an incensed legion of bloggers are loudly protesting the thought of an Oscar ceremony sans singing Muppets.
The reaction: Boooooo, says Aly Semigran at Entertainment Weekly. The prospect of having the Muppets sing on national television — not to mention the staging potential of the bouncy, spicy "Real in Rio" — made this a year to "legitimately look forward to the performances." And forget the Muppets, says Zach Dionne at New York. "Who wants to live in a world where [declining] to have Jason Segel sing a funny song and improve your show is even an option?!" Hold on, says Devon Maloney at Spin. This isn't the first time songs have been yanked. They were scrapped in 2010, only to lamely return last year. "Remember A.R. Rahman and Florence Welch's duet? No?" The sad truth is, this may be for the best. Check out "Man or Muppet":