By Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

The Best Song category has been batted around, revitalized, nearly eliminated, highlighted, and then pushed to the brink of death again. Let’s just say the Academy would not score well with child services, should they inquire about its parenting here. Every year, you never know whether the songs will be performed, how many there will be, and as some are suggesting now — whether there will even be a category next year. It’s almost as difficult to predict the category’s future as it is the winner, but there’s one thing we can truly guarantee: We (Adam and Savanna) will be here to break down the nominees as long as they’re doing this thing.

This year, we’re left with a paltry two selections, though they both happen to be pretty impressive in their own way. Listen to the songs below to determine your own winner!

“Real in Rio” – Rio

Adam: My immediate thought was, “This is different,” and I meant it in a good way. You have to credit Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown for stringing together something truly unusual. By cleverly juxtaposing bird noises with South American Samba, the listener is immediately transported into a different world, just like Rio. In a few spots, the song settles for kiddie humor in a way that trivializes the creativity, but on the whole, it’s a fairly solid competitor. Still, it does seem to be missing that unexplainable something that separates Oscar winners from chirp of the days.

Savanna: “Real in Rio” is vibrant, energetic, and sung by a Brazilian rainforest full of exotic birds and parrots — what’s not to love? I have a feeling, though, that this is one of those songs that loses a bit of its magic when separated from the film in which it’s featured. Without the dancing macaws and cockatoos, “Real in Rio” remains a catchy tune, but not one worthy of an Academy Award win.

“Man or Muppet” – The Muppets

Adam: Before I say anything, I have to come clean about something: As a fan of Flight of the Conchords and an obsessive fan of Lord of the Rings, I’m inclined to like Bret McKenzie’s work (and yes, he was an elf in Lord of the Rings). “Man or Muppet” comes off exactly how you would expect a McKenzie song to sound, with bits of comedy, bits of existentialism, occasional depth, and a degree of unpredictability. Most people don’t suffer from this debate during their day-to-day lives, but there’s an undercurrent of truth behind the man or muppet conundrum.

This is made more humorous by the fact that Jason Segel voices the song. “Man or Muppet” is not extraordinary by any means, but it’s the one I predict to win — and there have been far less deserving winners than this screwball ballad.

Savanna: “Man or Muppet” is already being championed as the favorite in this category (though, admittedly, that’s not much of an achievement since there are only two nominees). It’s my personal favorite as well, and I’m fairly confident that it will win (I say “fairly” only because 50/50 odds always make me nervous). My longstanding love for all things Muppet aside, “Man or Muppet” is a great song. The music is charming, and the simple lyrics are surprisingly profound in a goofy sort of way:

I reflect on my reflection
And I ask myself the question:
What’s the right direction to go?
I don’t know.
Am I a man or am I a Muppet?

Unless a nominee stands out as being incredibly “different” (“Jai Ho,” for example), it seems like the Academy tends to gravitate towards the more heartfelt and emotionally charged. So while “Real in Rio” definitely has a cool, unique sound, I’m placing all my bets on the Muppets! Or are they men? I don’t know.

Road to the Oscars Series

January 27: Best Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

January 31: Best Animated Short – Savanna New

February 1: Best Documentary Short – Christa Youngpeter

February 2: Best Documentary – Dantzler Smith

February 3: Best Foreign Language Film – Steve Neumann

February 4: Best Visual Effects – Michael Benedict

February 5: Best Sound Editing – Michael Benedict

February 6: Best Sound Mixing – Joseph Doherty

February 7: Best Makeup – Katie Mae Peters

February 8: Best Costume Design – Jax Russo

February 9: Best Art Direction – Scott Youngbauer

February 10: Best Film Editing – Michael Benedict

February 11: Best Cinematography – Scott Youngbauer

February 12: Best Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 13: Best Original Song – Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

February 14: Best Animated Feature Film – Steve Neumann

February 15: Best Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Best Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Best Supporting Actor – Joseph Doherty

February 18: Best Supporting Actress – Angela Stern

February 20: Best Actress – Andrew Payne

February 21: Best Actor – Kit Bowen

February 22: Best Director – Andrew Payne

February 23: Best Picture – Kit Bowen