Sunday, February 24, 2013

Music Sunday: The "Best Original Song" Edition

It's Music Sunday, of course, but it's also Academy Awards day, so it probably isn't difficult to figure out that I'm going to be writing about songs that have been nominated and/or have won the Oscar for Best Original Song.

I haven't got a clue what songs have been nominated this year, other than the fact that the song from the newest Bond movie, "Skyfall", is up, along with something from "Les Miserables" is nominated. The past few years, not to many of the nominated songs have been especially memorable. The last winner that sticks in my mind is the song from "Hustle & Flow", "It's Hard Out There For a Pimp", and that is memorable mostly because of all the hype surrounding the performance of the song on the awards show that year. That was nominated for 2005.

Looking over the list of winners and nominees since the award was first given at the 7th Academy Awards, for movies released in 1934, I'm interested in the songs that have won, but in some cases more interested in the movies that didn't win.

For example, in 1980, "Fame", from the film of the same name, about a high school for the arts in New York, won the award. On the other hand, Willie Nelson's iconic song, "On the Road Again", which he wrote for the film "Honeysuckle Rose", in which he also starred, was nominated, but did not win. Here is the way the song appeared over the opening credits in the film:

Another very popular song, from a very popular film "Nine to Five", was also nominated that year, but did not win. The song, also titled "Nine to Five" was written by another icon, Dolly Parton. I'm not having any success finding a clip of the song as i appeared in the film, but here is a live performance of the song, sung by Parton and Melissa Etheridge:

In 1996, "You Must Love Me", from the film "Evita", with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, won the award. Here is Madonna, who played the title role in the film, singing the song:

I can understand why this won that year. On the other hand, one of the other nominated songs that year was "That Thing You Do!", with music and lyrics written by Adam Schlesinger, from the film of the same name (with bonus subtitles in Spanish:

Yeah, it's just a pop song. But it is a pop song very much of the time the story takes place and, I think, fits the film and it's vibe perfectly. And, call me old-fashioned, but I think that's part of what should be taken into consideration when thinking about voting for this award.

And then there are they years in which all the songs nominated seem to be on an equal footing. Take 1984, when "I Just Called To Say I Love You", written by Stevie Wonder, from the film "The Woman in Red", won Best Original Song. The other nominees were "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)", by Phil Collins, from the film of the same name; "Footloose", by Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford, from "Footloose"; "Let's Hear It For The Boy", by Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford, also from "Footloose"; and "Ghostbusters", by Ray Parker, Jr., from "Ghostbusters". My favorite of the bunch is the Phil Collins song from "Against All Odds". It was a so-so film, but the song deserved to be among the nominees and, I think, should have won:

Yes, I know. The winner was Stevie Wonder. Still, and again, I'll go for the song that fits the film the best every time.

Not that it's always an easy call. In 1968, "The Windmills of Your Mind", with music by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, from the original version of "The Thomas Crown Affair", won the award. I've shared that here before, more than once if memory serves, but I haven't shared this full version of the song, which appears in a shorter version in the film:

And I'm just fine with it getting the win. But it was up against "Funny Girl", with music by Jule Styne and Lyrics by Bob Merrill, from the film of the same name and starring Barbra Streisand:

As far as I'm concerned, this one could have won easily as well. Great song, fits the vibe of the film, does its job telling the story.

I could go on, but this has gotten long enough for one day, and the cat keeps wanting to walk all over the keyboard.

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