Sunday, December 13, 2015

Best Song: "For All We Know" (1970)

Scene from Lovers and Other Strangers
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 1970 and The Academy is celebrating its 43rd year. This was the year that director Franklin J. Schaffner won Best Picture with his film Patton. It was also the first year in history when an actor (George C. Scott for Best Actor in Patton) refused his Oscar. It was the last time that the Best Actress and Best Actor categories would have first time nominees. Helen Hayes became the first actress to win in lead and supporting roles this year with Best Supporting Actress in Airport - she would also have the biggest gap between wins, winning Best Actress for The Sin of Madelon Claudet. Meanwhile, Love and Other Strangers won Best Original Song for the number "For All We Know."

The Nominees

Song: "Whistling Away the Dark"
Film: Darling Lili
Performers: Julie Andrews

I have to admit that it was smart to combine two personal interests into one song. While I am both a fan of what Henry Mancini did in the 60's and a little annoyed by how cliche it eventually became, I do love his grasp of melody and lyricism. The opening beats are beautiful and elegant, feeling like a mature step up for the composer. Also, having Julie Andrews singing once again reveals another soft spot for me. I think she adds a perfect tenderness to the song, and the whole thing has an operatic, larger than life feel that works. However, I do think it's a little long and it doesn't sustain its energy for the entire run. It's still a good song, but I think it could've used a little more emphasis in the middle portion, which drags a little.

Song: "Till Love Touches Your Life"
Film: Madron
Performers: Richard Williams

I think that this is another example of a really good song that maybe went on a little long. For starters, the melody is really fun. I like the pacing of the notes over the ballad structure. Richard Williams' voice carries the song beautifully and there's a lot to enjoy about how he mellows out everything. There's not a lot that's exciting about the lyrics, but Williams' voice definitely throws emphasis onto them in a passionate way. It's a song that juxtaposes two things that shouldn't work (fast melody, slow vocals) and creates something wonderful. However, I do think that it begins to get a little too repetitive and mundane after a certain point. It's not a bad song, but it definitely has very little to offer beyond its initial set up.

Song: "Pieces of Dreams"
Film: Pieces of Dreams
Performers: Peggy Lee

So far, this one is pretty much the one that manages to have the least amount of lull between its set up and conclusion. While I don't know that I like the lyrics all that much, I do like how they playfully go about expressing themselves. I like how the energy builds and the personality of the vocals adds more passion. While I know that this isn't the Peggy Lee version, it does have a lot of energy that makes it just a good song. I like the orchestration behind the vocals, which have a slow build, as if in communication with the lyrics constantly. Even if I don't really care for the lyrics of this song, I like how it builds to something interesting and exciting. Overall, a really good entry.

Song: "Thank You Very Much"
Film: Scrooge
Performers: Anton Rodgers, Albert Finney, Chorus

It's so nice to have an upbeat song thrown into here. To be honest, these categories tend to always skew to one side or the other on any given year, which makes one have the unfair advantage. Still, it's great to hear a song like this pop up. While I do think it's corny and maybe not great out of context, it definitely is an ear worm that gets stuck with you. It's bombastic and a reminder of great musicals that were unfortunately on the way out by 1970 (even if Oliver was only the year before). I'll give this love because it's a reminder of what great cinematic musicals can be, though I don't know that the song does much else beyond its pomp. Still, it has a lot of personality - which is what I can say for this over the other songs.

The Winner
Scene from Love and Other Strangers
Song: "For All We Know"
Film: Love and Other Strangers
Performers: Larry Meredith
Listen to the song here.

Okay, the 70's may end up being an overtly biased decade if this keeps up. Remember "Come Saturday Morning" from last week? Well, I guess I am a sucker for these acoustic, folksy songs that have hushed vocals and tenderness. Maybe it's just that it's coming after decades of more theatrical songs, but this one definitely packs a punch in under two minutes. It sounds like second rate work by The Carpenters, but that's not a bad thing. That band was very good at melodic and beautiful music like this. It's going to be tough not to overrate this because, honestly, it does overwhelm me a bit while listening.

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. "The Sweetheart Tree" - The Great Race (1965)
6. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
7. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
8. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
9. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970
10. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
11. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
12. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
13. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
14. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
15. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
16. "Gegorgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
17. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
18. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
19. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
20. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
21. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
22. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
23. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
24. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
25. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
26. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
27. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
28. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
29. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
30. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
31. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
32. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
33. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
34. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
35. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
36. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
37. "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. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
5. "Swinging on a Star" - Going My Way (1944)
6. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
7. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
8. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
9. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
10. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
11. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
12. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
13. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
14. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
15. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
16. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
17. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
18. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
19. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
20. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
21. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
22. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
23. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
24. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
25. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
26. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
27. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
28. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
29. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
30. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
31. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
32. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
33. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
34. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
35. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
36. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
37. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)

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