Hive Five: Bret McKenzie’s Greatest Hits

Bret McKenzie in Beverly Hills, Calif., February 2012. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

No one ever accused Academy Award voters of being too hip in their musical tastes. Though in its heyday the Best Original Song Oscar went to classics like “White Christmas,” “Over the Rainbow” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” the award’s more recent history is littered with kids’ songs from animated features, Dianne Warren ballads and aging baby boomer pop stars hungry for another award on their mantle. Though over the last 15 years, a handful of random quality acts have somehow managed to sneak into contention for the Best Song Oscar like Elliott Smith, Bjork, Aimee Mann. And a few have actually won the statuette: Eminem, Bob Dylan, the Swell Season, to recall a few.

This year there are only two songs nominated for the award: “Real in Rio” by Sergio Mendes (and his collaborators) and “Man or Muppet” by Bret McKenzie. All due respect to the bossa nova legend, but we’re rooting for the guy from Flight of the Conchords for scoring a scene that finally what Jason Segal looks like as a Muppet. So in honor of this weekend’s Oscar festivities, we present to you five other great songs by Bret McKenzie worthy of being honored.

1. “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros”

We’re not sure if there’s a less gangsta place on earth than New Zealand — unless you think hobbits are particularly street-savvy — but that’s what makes this Flight of the Conchords’ song so hilarious. Despite saying that his “rhymes are bottomless,” Jermaine Clement gets tongue-tied one line into his verse, and McKenzie gives us his best Busta Rhymes-in-a-fisheye-lens into-the-camera delivery while rapping about how there “ain’t no party like my nana’s tea party.” Though in his defense, maybe his nana is a real badass?

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