Man or Muppet

Album: The Muppets: Original Soundtrack (2011)
Charted: 51

Songfacts®:

  • This ballad is from the 2011 movie The Muppets. It finds the film's main characters, Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter, (Peter Linz) questioning themselves on the subject of their true identities. The song also features Bill Barretta as Gary's Muppet form and Jim Parsons as Walter's human form. It was released on November 22, 2011 as part of the film's soundtrack.
  • The song was written for the movie by Bret McKenzie, who is best known for being one half of the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. He told MTV: "I really wanted [this song] to be hilarious and beautiful, and I feel like we got that combination. It's sincere but ridiculous. The idea of children singing the song at school cracks me up."
  • Along with "Real in Rio" from the movie Rio, this was one of just two songs nominated for the Best Original Song category at the 84th Academy Awards. It was the third Muppet song to be nominated for an Oscar, following "Rainbow Connection" and "The First Time It Happens." 2012 was a long way from the days when some of the biggest hits were written for movies (example: "Eye Of The Tiger" losing to "Up Where We Belong), and this marked the first time that just two songs were nominated - Golden Globe entries "Hello Hello" (from Gnomeo & Juliet) "Lay Your Head Down" (from Albert Nobbs) were snubbed.
  • This won the Oscar for Best Original Song. In his acceptance speech, McKenzie reminisced about watching the Muppets in his native New Zealand. "I was genuinely starstruck when I finally met Kermit the Frog," he recalled. "Once you get to know him, he's just a normal frog. And like many stars here tonight, he's a lot shorter in real life."
  • In an interview before the Oscar ceremony, McKenzie discussed the writing of the song with the radio network NPR. He explained that there were some unusual lyrical obstacles to overcome, including resisting the temptation to rhyme Muppets with 'puppets.' Said the New Zealander: "Early on, I was going to get 'puppet' in there, but you can't do that. Muppets are real. So then I was riffing as to how I could get that melody and those lyrics to flip back and forth, so that's why I ended up rhyming Muppet with Muppet and man with man."
  • McKenzie told NPR that when the time came for Jason Segel to perform the track, McKenzie acted it out for him as a guide. He explained: "I would sing a line and he'd watch me through the studio window. And I'd sing it quite dramatically. And he would copy, and that's how we got the performance going."

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