Time For One Less Oscar

The Academy Award for Best Original Song has one strict rule, and one horribly flabby one.  The song must be written specifically for the film, and it must be played somewhere within the film, end credits included.  Think how much better life could be with those last three words removed.

You would figure that some of the great songwriters in history won a passel of Oscars, wouldn’t you?  Especially those guys who wrote original songs for Astaire and Rogers, yes?  Someone like Irving Berlin, whose Cheek to Cheek was nominated in 1935.  But the winner that year was Warren and Dubin’s Lullaby of Broadway.

Cole Porter?  I’ve Got You Under My Skin was nominated in 1936, but Cole Porter never won an Oscar.  Never.

Neither, astonishingly, did either Gershwin – They Can’t That Away From Me was beaten by Sweet Leilani, and The Man That Got Away lost to Three Coins in the Fountain.

Pretend you’re an Academy member in 1941. Choose from:

Baby Mine – from Dumbo
Blues In the Night – the film of the same name
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B Buck Privates, and
Chatanooga Choo Choo Sun Valley Serenade

It turns out none of them won, because of The Last Time I Saw Paris, a song not written for the film Lady Be Good, and already a hit by the time the film came out.  They didn’t have the strict rule back then.

Then consider:

1974 – We May Never Love Like This Again – The Towering Inferno
1984 – I Just Called to Say I Love You – The Woman in Red
1987 – (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life – Dirty Dancing
1986 – Take My Breath Away – Top Gun

Meanwhile, no Oscar for Pennies From Heaven (1936), or The Trolley Song (1944), or My Foolish Heart (1949).

Oh, and Accentuate the Positive (1945) didn’t win either.

This year’s nominees are:

Almost There The Princess and the Frog (m+l: Randy Newman)
Down in New OrleansThe Princess and the Frog (m+l: Randy Newman)

Randy Newman, the Susan Sarandon of Oscar-nominated songwriters, did some fine work (how did When Somebody Loved Me lose to You’ll Be in My Heart?), before winning with a song he could have written in his sleep, back in 2001. Otherwise I’d say he was an absolute lock.

Loin de PanameParis 36 (m: Reinhardt Wagner, l: Frank Thomas)

The Academy have been favouring writers in languages other than English lately (2004, 2008).  I think they’re tossing the foreign markets a bone nobody else wants.

Take It AllNine (m+l: Maury Yeston)

If Nine hadn’t been a flop, I’d rate Maury Yeston’s chances pretty highly: musicals tend to do well.  But this?  That would be the Academy celebrating the idea of Marion Cotillard getting her kit off.

The Weary KindCrazy Heart (m+l: Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett)

Dust off your shelf, Ryan and T-Bone.  Reckin you’re abaht ter git a little yeller statchoo man.

Anyway, the songs won’t even be performed at this year’s telecast, so who cares?  Now that Randy Newman has an Oscar – and before Sting gets one – it’s time to scrap the thing completely, and revive it only in exceptional years.  It happened to the Oscar for Choreography.


5 thoughts on “Time For One Less Oscar

  1. This is all truly sad. What do you think of that cute song that features in “Bolt”? (All I ever see are children’s films these days.)

    “There ain’t no home like the one you love
    And that home belongs to you …”

    Completely meaningless lyrics but nice all the same. We can’t stop singing it. Surely that should be one of the criteria?

    • We like that one in my house too! It’s called ‘Barking at the Moon’, and I think it’s originally by Jenny Lewis.

      I don’t know if it was written for the film, so maybe it wasn’t a contender – but you’re right, it’s clearly a success with the target demographic, and the ones who pay for their tickets.

  2. Incidentally, this exchange from the Razzies website, where Hollywood’s worst efforts are celebrated each year.

    Topic: Whatever Happened To Worst Original Song?

    BOOBerry: HeadRAZZBerry this questions for you, the title is pretty self explanatory.

    We had it a couple of years ago (CROSSROADS’ whiny anthem “Not a Girl Not Yet An Actress” won it), but since then we haven’t awarded it, what happened?

    HeadRAZZBerry: A minimum of three contenders is needed to fill any category, and in the years since “Not Yet an Actress,” there have been few if any songs from movies that were both Bad Enough AND Well Known Enough to justify continuing to present Worst “Original” Song. Other than the wonderfully awful end title song from THUNDERBIRDS (which we showed for those who attended that year’s Pre-Vue Nite Member Event) I can’t think of even ONE song from the last few years worth bothering to RAZZ. Actually, The Oscars® have the same problem (albeit in REVERSE!) but they have yet to admit it!

  3. Today, after the Oscars, I bask in the glory of having correctly picked, along with the rest of humanity, the winning song.

    That we were all able to do it so easily is another reason to dump the thing until the field improves.

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