I was wrong. Randy Newman won.
Far more interesting (and more interesting than if I’d been right) was a remark made during a montage.
It was one of those beautifully-edited and mixed Oscar retrospectives, designed to highlight the awfulness of this year’s Best Song nominees. “My Heart Will Go On” began to play, and a unidentified man was heard to remark something to this effect:
When my Dad was going through his heart surgery, that song was around, and my mom sang it all the time.
This means, unidentified man, that your mom is quite lovely.
The song is a turd.
That’s what Amanda’s line, from Private Lives, refers to: “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is”. It doesn’t mean that cheap music is powerful. It means that humans are wonderful, able to find solace and emotion in whatever music is around them, no matter how tawdry. It means that music is wonderful; even its meanest examples can offer that solace.
Meanwhile, the job of songwriters is to present less tawdry options. That guy’s mom deserves it.