Sunday, September 20, 2015

Best Song: "Gigi" (1958)

Leslie Caron in Gigi
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 1958 and The Academy is celebrating its 31st year. This was the year that the producers decided to cut out the musical numbers to end on time. This resulted in coming up short, resulting in 20 minutes of Jerry Lewis doing stand-up before eventually cutting to a football game. It was also the year of Gigi, which not only won Best Picture, but had a clean sweep of all eight of its categories. It broke the record for most wins until Ben-HurGigi also was the last Best Picture before The Last Emperor to win without any acting nominations. Among its many wins was for the titular song, which took home the Best Original Song prize.

The Nominees

Song: "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)"
Film: Houseboat
Performers: Sam Cooke

It's always great to see that there were some rhythm and blues singers on this list, largely because they do the songs justice. This is the first from Sam Cooke, and I hope that there's many more to come. Even if the melody and lyrics are very familiar, it does have a relaxing and romantic vibe to it that inevitably works. I haven't seen Houseboat, but just hearing this song puts me at a peace that could make it one of the great classics. It's not saying anything new, but Cooke's tender voice results in something more profound and exciting within the sentiments. Not bad for a song that doesn't really have a lot going on.

Song: "A Certain Smile"
Film: A Certain Smile
Performers: Johnny Mathis

It's the return of my favorite from last week with Johnny Mathis. I admit that the production does have a little hollow ring to it. However, I think that it compliments what made me like Mathis in general. He may not be as great as Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby, but I can hear the passion booming over the scenery. The romantic strings flutter as he sings the cliches one by one. Overall, he can bring anything to life with a little effort. This is another really good song from Mathis and I hope to hear many more great ones from him in the time to come.

Song: "To Love and Be Loved"
Film: Some Came Running
Performers: Jimmy Van Heusen

I am aware that this isn't the version that I have listed. That's largely because the only version I found was from the film, and it was used as background music during a conversation scene (listen here). I chose this one to emphasize the lyrics. The other one is more laid back and has a simpler, kitschy melody. I think that that version has a lot of charm and works in the novelty way that most old love songs did. I know that Frank Sinatra was in that film, so I don't feel too bad using his cover for this example. However, I do notice that his version is a lot better than the otherwise decent song. I like it overall, but I don't think that it's the best song that I have heard this week.

Song: "A Very Precious Love"
Film: Marjorie Morningstar
Performers: Gene Kelly

While I think that Gene Kelly is an outstanding performer, I do think that this song isn't the greatest. It could be that there's been way too many love songs nominated, but there's nothing new or exciting about hit piano ballad. His whispering calmness is a nice touch, adding a sentiment to the music that inevitably makes it an adequate song. However, I don't really come away feeling any strong feelings about it. Kelly's done a lot of great work, but I don't know that this ranks among his best. It's good, not great.

The Winner

Song: "Gigi"
Film: Gigi
Performers: Louis Jordan

Having seen all Best Picture winners, I am already familiar with this song. Even then, I cannot help but feel that my apathy towards Gigi will show when I say that this song is very silly. I think it's because the name Gigi is very silly to passionately cry as you contemplate how your love grew from a little girl into a woman. The film in general is a little creepy by today's standards, but this song is just a heap of odd things. Add in that this does feel like knock-off My Fair Lady music, and you'll understand why I have trouble taking it all that seriously. It's very well done and I get the sentiments, but it's just funny to hear him say Gigi so many times. It's also funny to keep typing it. Say it six times fast. You'll understand.

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. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
6. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
7. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
8. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
9. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
10. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
11. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
12. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
13. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
14. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
15. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
16. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
17. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
18. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
19. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
20. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
21. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
22. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
23. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
24. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
25. "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. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
5. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
6. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
7. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
8. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
9. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
10. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
11. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
12. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
13. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
14. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
15. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
16. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
17. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
18. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
19. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
20. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
21. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
22. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
23. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
24. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
25. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)

No comments:

Post a Comment