Sunday, August 23, 2015

Best Song: "Three Coins in the Fountain" (1954)

Scene from Three Coins in the Fountain
Welcome to Best Song, a new weekly column released on Sunday dedicated to chronicling the Best Original Song category over the course of its many decades. The goal is to listen to and critique every song that has ever been nominated in the category as well as find the Best Best Song and the Best Loser. By the end, we'll have a comprehensive list of this music category and will hopefully have a better understanding not only of the evolution, but what it takes to receive a nomination here. It may seem easy now, but wait until the bad years.

The Preface

The year is 1954 and The Academy is celebrating its 27th year. Director Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront wins Best Picture, tying Gone with the Wind for most wins with 8. Star of the film Marlon Brando went up against Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny) after facing off against him three years prior - this time Brando won. Grace Kelly (Best Actress - The Country Girl) won over favored Judy Garland (A Star is Born), which Groucho Marx later claimed was the biggest robbery since Brink's. Meanwhile, the Best Original Song category went to the titular song from Three Coins in the Fountain.

The Nominees

Song: "Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)"
Film: White Christmas
Performers: Bing Crosby

It's so interesting to see White Christmas on this list because it is a film based off of a previous Best Original Song winner. It also has Bing Crosby in what is arguably one of his best roles with a whole bunch of great songs. This song is no exception, as it captures the passionate cries of a seasoned performer singing about the simple things in life. It is beautiful, simple, and gets the point across while Crosby sings in that noteworthy tone. I don't know that it is my favorite song from this film, but it definitely ranks among his best so far in this column.

Song: "The High and the Mighty"
Film: The High and the Mighty
Performers: Choir

I hope that this is the right version. Seeing as the first option for this was the theme, I was dismayed to hear that that version only had whistling. However, I do think that this is still a pretty top notch candidate if it is right. It has all of the great, soaring lyrics that get you in the mood for the production. It also helps that Dimitri Tiomkin was one of the great composers of his day. He makes the booming instruments have a passion and power to them that makes the lyrics all the more rich with subtext. I think that this is a pretty strong song that makes the most of its three minute running time.

Song: "Hold My Hand"
Film: Susan Slept Here
Performers: Don Cornell

I will admit that while the lyrics are very familiar, I do like the production. I am not all that familiar with Don Cornell, but he has a control over the lyrics. He puts passion into each line and makes you feel the jauntiness of his joy. Even the bouncy rhythm adds a little something to it. There's a soothing, traditional vibe to this that I think actually works pretty well. While it isn't my favorite from this week, I do think that it does have a lot of heart and craft to it that makes me care enough to probably listen to it more often. It could also just be that Cornell sounds charming, too.

Song: "The Man That Got Away"
Film: A Star is Born
Performers: Judy Garland

Well, that about stole the show. As I have already admitted, I am a fan of Judy Garland as a singer, and this is a very tough one to beat. It isn't just an average song, but one that wrenches the pain from every chord and makes her sing with longing about the lost love. You can hear her sorrow in the quiet moments and the desperation in the high notes. She may have songs that are more polished, but there is something here that just encapsulates what was so great about her. I love this song wholeheartedly and it hits all of the right nerves as well. I say bravo to Garland for showing what a great vocal performance can be. This was something phenomenal.

The Winner

Song: "Three Coins in The Fountain"
Film: Three Coins in The Fountain
Performers: Frank Sinatra

Thankfully, this isn't a repeat of last week where the losers were far and away better than the winner. While it is tough to top Judy Garland, I do think that Frank Sinatra does an earnest job that works. It could just be that his voice always works on top of strings. It could be that the speculation of the plot in his lyrics have a romanticism to them. I am not entirely sure, but he makes it work so beautifully that I have trouble being mad. The song is simple and I kind of love it for that. It may not be my favorite Sinatra song, but it is further reflection as to why he was another legend. With great production backing him, he brought the music to life in exciting fashions.

Best Loser

A comprehensive list and ranking of the songs that were nominated but did not win. This is a list predicated on which song that was nominated I liked the best.

1. "That's Amore" - The Caddy (1953)
2. "The Man That Got Away" - A Star is Born (1954)
3. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
4. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
5. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
6. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
7. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
8. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
9. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
10. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
11. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
12. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
13. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
14. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
15. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
16. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
17. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
18. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
19. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
20. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
21. "I've Got You Under My Skin" - Born to Dance (1936)

Best Best Song

A comprehensive list and ranking of the songs that won this category. 

1. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" - The Wizard of Oz (1939)
2. "The Way You Look Tonight" - Swing Time (1936)
3. "Swinging on a Star" - Going My Way (1944)
4. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
5. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
6. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
7. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
8. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
9. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
10. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
11. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
12. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
13. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
14. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
15. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
16. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
17. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
18. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
19. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
20. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
21. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)

No comments:

Post a Comment