Sunday, October 25, 2015

Best Song: "Call Me Irresponsible" (1963)

Scene from Papa's Delicate Condition
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 1963 and The Academy is celebrating its 36th year. This was the year that the fourth-wall breaking period piece drama-comedy Tom Jones won Best Picture and became the only film to have three Best Supporting Actress nominees; which also set a tie with Peyton Place for most acting losses. Margaret Rutherford became the then oldest Oscar winner in the Best Supporting Actress category for The V.I.P.s at the age of 71. This was also the first year that a black actor won Best Actor with Sidney Poitier in The Lilies of the Field. Also, The Occurrence at Owl Creek became the first Oscar winning film to premiere on network TV prior to the actual ceremony. Meanwhile, Papa's Delicate Condition wins Best Original Song by suggest that we "Call Me Irresponsible."

The Nominees

Song: "Charade"
Film: Charade
Performers: Johnny Mercer

This is an odd song, largely because the one that plays in the title credits doesn't have lyrics. There is no proper citation for the one listed with actual lyrics, so I am unsure if this is the actual song. However, I do think that Henry Mancini does bring a lot of the charm once again with his latest collaboration with Audrey Hepburn. The espionage-fueled track is fun, and the lyrics provide a sense of wonder that gets me excited to watch Charade. I wish I could post the opening credits (which has the melody), but since this about song with lyrics, it's difficult to justify. Overall, I really like this and this reminds me why I liked Mancini in the first place. So full of personality and charisma that it's very easy for me just to award him the top spot on any given week.

Song: "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World"
Film: It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
Performers: Choir

I like the general idea of this song, and the melody is a lot of fun as a whole. I like the lyrics are creative and that it actually has fun pointing out how mad the world actually is. With that said, this feels almost too novelty to really be great. It swings with gusto, but I think that the lyrics are at times a little too lazy for the production. I understand that this was for a comedy, but I don't know that it works. It's a tad redundant and even at two minutes long, it really felt long. It's probably better within the film, as you can buy into the atmosphere, but here it's just a decent idea with lyrics that don't properly stand on their own.

Song: "More"
Film: Mondo Cane
Performers: Norman Newell

In what is turning into a frustrating pattern, this is the second song that I am unable to find the original of, but I can find the melodic portion. I am unsure how this song sounds vocally, but I do enjoy the swaying melody that plays smooth and beautifully. The lyrics are simple, but on point as they overtake the listener into a state of romance. I like the way that the melody builds and eventually ends with a powerful, unique crescendo in which the singer declares his love. Overall, a very strong song that makes me jealous that I can't find the original. It's just so precise that it's hard not to love.

Song: "So Little Time"
Film: 55 Days at Peking
Performers: Andy Williams

That Dimitri Tiomkin sure is something, isn't he? As of this moment, he still has one of my favorite nominated songs of all with "The Green Leaves of Summer." While I don't feel like this song captures the same enthusiasm from me as that one, I definitely like the solid production work, with the melodies fading in towards the end for the sake of emphasis. It's a little understated, but I think that Andy Williams does a great job with the material given to him. It's not the most clever of songs, but it definitely has enough memorable and catchy moments to make it worthy of Tiomkin's name.

The Winner

Song: "Call Me Irresponsible"
Film: Papa's Delicate Condition
Performers: Jackie Gleason

Like in the case with a lot of winners, I am mostly familiar with later incarnations of the song, so it's hard to judge the established bias compared to the actual quality. Without any real context, the above clip's a little confusing to properly judge and the song lacks any major impact. Yes, the lyrics are clever and I'll admit that there's a lot of great and better covers that followed. However, I don't know that Jackie Gleason really brings anything iconic to this version. In fact, I don't even know if the rambling is part of the song - which is itself very short. For those wondering, I like the song but really don't care about this version. It's lyrically impressive, but without context, it's kind of bad.

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. "The Green Leaves of Summer" - The Alamo (1960)
2. "That's Amore" - The Caddy (1953)
3. "A Town Without Pity" - A Town Without Pity (1961)
4. "The Man That Got Away" - A Star is Born (1954)
5. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
6. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
7. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
8. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
9. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
10. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
11. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
12. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
13. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
14. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
15. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
16. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
17. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
18. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
19. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
20. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
21. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
22. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
23. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
24. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
25. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
26. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
27. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
28. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
29. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
30. "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. "Moon River" - Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
2. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" - The Wizard of Oz (1939)
3. "The Way You Look Tonight" - Swing Time (1936)
4. "Swinging on a Star" - Going My Way (1944)
5. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
6. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
7. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
8. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
9. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
10. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
11. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
12. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
13. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
14. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
15. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
16. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
17. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
18. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
19. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
20. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
21. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
22. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
23. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
24. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
25. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
26. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
27. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
28. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
29. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
30. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)

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