Sunday, September 6, 2015

Best Song: "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" (1956)

Scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much
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 1956 and The Academy is celebrating its 29th year. The world-spanning, cameo heavy epic Around the World in 80 Days wins Best Picture. This is the first year that all five of the Best Picture nominees are in color. This is also one of only two years in which the Best Picture winner didn't have any acting nominations. This was also only the second time to that date that the major categories went to different winners. This was also the year in which James Dean received his second posthumous Oscar nomination (Best Actor - Giant). This was also the year in which the Best Foreign Film category was introduce, with the first winner being Federico Fellini's La Strada. Meanwhile, in the Best Original Song category, Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much wins with the classic "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)."

The Nominees

Song: "Friendly Persuasion (Thee I Love)"
Film: Friendly Persuasion
Performers: Pat Boone

Well, that was a pretty wholesome song if I ever heard one. I am not sure if Pat Boone was the original, but research shows he did the most popular version of it. Considering that he has a voice that warms your heart, it is easy to see why this song would make the cut. It's nothing particularly exciting, especially since the lyrics are about Quakers. However, I do think that it is still well constructed and definitely continues to show why Dimitri Tiomkin keeps popping up on this list from time to time. Not great, but it's definitely not the worst thing I've heard.

Song: "Julie"
Film: Julie
Performers: Doris Day

Considering this isn't the first time that we have heard Doris Day, nor even the last that we'll hear this week, it's interesting to hear her come on strong. What makes this song work is that it has a haunting back-up vocals that sing the title as Day sings intriguingly upfront. It isn't a particularly complicated song, but I do find it immediately charming and easy to get into. I think that Day has a knack for writing really good movie songs, and this is no exception. She just has such a bubbling personality that compliments the song. It's smooth and relaxing, but there's also something more underneath the surface. I cannot wait to see what else she does in the years ahead.

Song: "True Love"
Film: High Society
Performers: Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly

It was kind of scary to think that Bing Crosby was back, ready to steal yet another spot on my favorites list. You can't fault the man. He really knows his craft and puts his voice to good work. This week is a step back from his past few nominations, especially as there's predominantly an accordion backing him up. It's a love song that works and serves as a great secondary song. However, I don't know that it is necessarily my favorite of his. There's plenty to like and Crosby hasn't had a truly bad song, save for "Sweet Leiulani."Yet I think that there's something missing in this song to give Crosby any edge in being my favorite this week.

Song: "Written on the Wind"
Film: Written on the Wind
Performers: The Four Aces

I don't mean anything bad for The Four Aces. For the most part this is a really good production. I like the way that the melody and rhythm fluctuate. They keep the pace going, leaving plenty of personality to spare. However, I think this is almost too corny to really appreciate. It's a very basic love song in which the lyrics don't really convey much. If anything, it's the overall production that has any value in this song. I like it well enough, but I don't find much in the song otherwise that doesn't keep me from giggling just a little bit. It's not a bad song. It's just very corny in a week full of slow love songs.

The Winner

Song: "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)"
Film: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Performers: Doris Day

There are those select few songs that I was eagerly looking forward to considering when I started the Best Song column. This is among them. There's already a built in fondness that I have for this song thanks to its placement in pop culture. I have heard it at a quincinera or two. I've heard it movies and TV. I've even sung it a few times. It's like "That's Amore" in that I have heard it for a good portion of my life, never knowing that it was actually made in the 20th century. For that alone, it's probably one of my favorite songs of the 50's decade. So far, it's at least the highest ranking winner. Doris Day really knocks it out of the park and everything about the song works beautifully. I'm probably going to listen to it again right now.

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

1 comment:

  1. You know you're song is great when Studio Ghibli remakes it in Isao Takahata's film MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS. :)