Sunday, December 27, 2015

Best Song: "The Morning After" (1972)

Scene from The Poseidon Adventure
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 1972 and The Academy is celebrating its 45th year. This was the year that director Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather won Best Picture, thus continuing its status as one of the greatest American films. The film also featured one of The Academy's rare boycotts as Marlon Brando infamously turned down his Best Actor Oscar. Charles Chaplin also won his first competitive Oscar for Limelight: a film that was actually 20 years old and only eligible due to it not screening in Los Angeles until this year. This was also the year that two African American actresses received Best Actress nominations. Cabaret set a record for most wins without taking home Best Picture. Meanwhile, the Best Original Song sailed aboard the The Poseidon Adventure by thinking about "The Morning After."

The Nominees

Song: "Ben"
Film: Ben
Performers: Michael Jackson

I will admit that the later Michael Jackson just never appealed to me (too poppy). However, I do find something immediately charming about this song. The melody is so tight and wonderful that it immediately sets you at peace. The lyrics are rather strong. However, there's Jackson at the center of it, proving that he was born talented. I must admit that there's something endearing about his childish voice singing this song with every ounce of passion. When I cannot claim to ever want to see Ben, it makes me want to listen to more of his earlier work, where I felt like his heart was in every note. This song is just so impressive and I get why everyone was immediately into him as a musician. 

Song: "Marmalade, Molasses & Honey"
Film: The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
Performers: Andy Williams

I will admit that this isn't a great song. Of course, it doesn't sound like it's trying to be, either. In my opinion, it works for what it wants to be. It's a carefree tune with very homely lyrics that wind you up and put a smile on your face. Everything about this song is very silly. Even the melody seems to not take itself too seriously. However, I think it's also that Andy Williams is practically singing like he has a smile on his face. It's a fun song, though not necessarily one that immediately captures my heart.

Song: "Come Follow, Follow Me"
Film: The Little Ark
Performers: The Springfield Revial

Can I just say that having this back-to-back with the Andy Williams song makes me a little disheartened for how mediocre this year has been? I can buy into the silliness because Williams' voice feels earnest doing it. However, there's just  nothing here that is immediately exciting beyond the fact that it feels like a made-for-TV movie theme song. It's goofy to an embarrassing extent. It's not a bad song, but it's definitely confusing to think why this made its way into a Best Original Song category. There's very little that's genuinely great about it, and even if it isn't  the worst thing I've heard, it's definitely not the best. So corny.

Song: "Strange Are The Ways of Love"
Film: The Stepmother
Performers: Manuel

There's actually two versions of the same song here (one at the start of the film, and one that ends it). However, I will compliment Manuel's voice work, as he adds a seductive quality to this haunting love song. He manages to make the romanticism soar through the song in ways that add weight to the mysticism underneath. It's by no means one of the best songs covered here, but it definitely is solid from a production standpoint. There's a lot of focus and craft put into this that feels earned. If nothing else, I like it better than the corny song that preceded this, if just because it makes sense why it was actually nominated.

The Winner

Song: "The Morning After"
Film: The Poseidon Adventure
Performers: Renee Armand

I know that this sounds redundant to longtime readers, but this brand of music pretty much hits a soft spot almost every time. In terms of winners that I've covered recently, this one hits pretty high, if just because Renee Armand's voice compliments the song so beautifully. I love the lyrics and their hopefulness. This is just a great song that has since become iconic for a variety of reasons. It's not very showy, but it manages to sink into your heart very quickly and put you at ease. It also feels perfectly timed that it's the final Best Song winner covered in 2015, largely because the film features a New Year's Eve party. So in a sense, it would feel wrong to discredit the value of the song, especially as it could serve as a hopeful anthem for the road ahead in the new year.

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. "Ben" - Ben (1972)
6. "The Sweetheart Tree" - The Great Race (1965)
7. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
8. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
9. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
10. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970
11. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
12. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
13. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
14. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
15. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
16. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
17. "Gegorgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
18. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
19. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
20. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
21. "Life is What You Make It" - Kock (1971)
22. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
23. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
24. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
25. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
26. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
27. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
28. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
29. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
30. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
31. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
32. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
33. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
34. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
35. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
36. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
37. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
38. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
39. "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. "The Morning After" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
5. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
6. "Swinging on a Star" - Going My Way (1944)
7. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
8. "Theme From Shaft" - Shaft (1971)
9. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
10. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
11. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
12. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
13. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
14. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
15. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
16. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
17. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
18. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
19. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
20. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
21. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
22. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
23. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
24. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
25. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
26. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
27. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
28. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
29. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
30. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
31. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
32. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
33. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
34. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
35. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
36. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
37. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
38. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
39. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)

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