By Clark Collis
January 24, 2012 at 10:57 PM EST
Christopher Polk/Getty Images
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Because of the 487 hour (approx.) time difference between Los Angeles and New Zealand, Bret McKenzie was asleep when it was announced his Muppets movie tune “Man or Muppet” had been nominated for an Oscar. “My phone was ringing hot,” says the Kiwi and Flight of the Conchords member about discovering the news. “Then I checked my email. I had a lot of emails.”

For the first time in Oscar history the Best Song category is a straight two-ditty race with “Man or Muppet” facing off against “Real in Rio” from Rio. That also makes it something of a Conchord-versus-Conchord conflict given that McKenzie’s bandmate Jemaine Clement voices a cockatoo in the animated blockbuster. “I know, imagine if it had been Jemaine’s song from Rio,” laughs McKenzie. “That would have put real pressure on the band’s politics.”

“Real in Rio” was co-penned by Brazilian musician Sérgio Mendes. Would McKenzie care to kick off a war of words with the South American maestro? “Is he looking or a battle? Well, let’s just say I’m hoping we have a drum battle on the red carpet. No,  I’ve seen Rio and it’s great. I’m a big fan of Sérgio Mendes.”

Unsurprisingly, McKenzie says he doesn’t know as yet what the plan is with regard to performing “Man or Muppet” on Oscar night. “It would be great to perform it onstage,” he says.  “But, however we perform it, there’s got to be a man and a muppet involved!”

You can watch “Man or Muppet” below.

Muppets star Jason Segel proclaimed his excitement for McKenzie’s nomination on Tuesday as well. “The entire Muppets team is so thrilled for Bret McKenzie on his Best Song nomination for “Man or Muppet.” It could not have happened to a better guy. Go Muppets!!”

Read more:

Muppet of a man: Bret McKenzie earns a Best Song Oscar nod for ‘Muppets’ tune

Oscars 2012: And the nominees are…

Move over Jemaine: Kermit sings ‘Muppets’ tune ‘Life’s a Happy Song’ with Bret McKenzie

‘The Muppets’: The Gang’s All Here!

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