Sunday, January 10, 2016

Best Song: "We May Never Love Like This Again" (1974)

Scene from The Towering Inferno
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 1974 and The Academy is celebrating its 47th year. This was the year that director Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part II won Best Picture, thus becoming the first sequel to hold the honor in The Academy's history. This was also the only year where one category (Best Costume Design) featured films released only by one studio. Meanwhile, Best Original Song featured a stop by The Towering Inferno with the notion that "We May Never Love Like This Again."

The Nominees

Song: "Benji's Theme (I Feel Love)"
Film: Benji
Performers: Charlie Rich

Well, this song definitely does a very interesting hat trick. It starts off with an immediately catchy rhythm. I'm enjoying how immediately I can remember the lyrics and Charlie Rich's vocals are enthusiastic in an endearing way. However, I found myself thinking that it was corny and overlong halfway through, especially as the back-up vocals kicked in. Then, I came back around to it by the end simply because I embraced how warm and innocent the song was at its core. I think that it works all in all, but I definitely think that it's one of the few songs on here that is both maybe a little too silly to be taken seriously and one that is too simple and succinct for me ever to hate.

Song: "Blazing Saddles"
Film: Blazing Saddles
Performers: Frankie Lane

I'll be honest, it's really hard for not to love this song, solely because Blazing Saddles was one of those formative comedies to my teenage years. I think it would be easier to dismiss this song if it was more comical and shoddy, but there's something genuinely on key about the way that the song is orchestrated that makes it even more brilliant. It's not just a parody of the old western themes. It is one that takes the story very seriously, and in the process makes a melody that is immediately memorable. I am not surprised that this song got Oscar nominated, but I am mostly surprised by how great it is compared to the songs it's likely spoofing within this category. I will do my best not to just choose this on bias, but it's too great of a song to really ignore.

Song: "Wherever Love Takes Me"
Film: Gold
Performers: Maureen McGovern

I will admit that Maureen McGovern has a really good voice. She does excellent vocal work in capturing the emotional response necessary to make this song good. However, I still come away thinking that this song is a whole lot of nothing out of context. Maybe it's just the amount of vague love songs that I have heard from this column, but there's not really much substance to be mined from this. I mean, it's pretty much a song that accepts the random and lets it happen. I like a good song that addresses this, but I also like when there's a purpose to what it's trying to be about. Even the rhythm doesn't sound all that interested in whatever it's trying to do. It's too vague and disinterested in itself in ways that make it hard to even admit to liking what it's going for.

Song: "Little Prince"
Film: The Little Prince
Performers: Richard Kiley

I know that I generally badmouth the orchestration of a song if I don't like it, but I feel like it's the reverse here. Considering that it's work by the great Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe, I actually come away liking the lyrical content of this song. It's a beautiful and tender melody that captures something sweet. Maybe the strings are a little too much, but I like how this song is set up. It's Richard Kiley that feels off for me. To be honest, his voice and deep vocals feel like they're lacking a passion to make the song something more than just a ballad to a wonderful little prince. Maybe a different cover would make me appreciate this song a lot more, but Kiley's voice bothers me for some reason, and I cannot get into it in the slightest.

The Winner

Song: "We May Never Love Like This Again"
Film: The Towering Inferno
Performers: Maureen McGovern

Wow, I guess that Maureen McGovern was busy in 1974. This is her second song on the list, and the second that feels like it was kind of phoned in. While I admit that this is tonally similar to "The Morning After" a few weeks back, it doesn't have any of the passion necessary to make it work. It's merely a song that makes its point stated and proceeds to repeat it ad nauseum without any impact. It's not really shaping up to be a great week, and I am disappointed by how much this song is unable to be anything but a typical ballad that is meant for films like this. It almost feels like a parody of songs like this as well. Am I just out of it and am unfairly judging all of these songs (I only like one of these)? Either way, I haven't been this disinterested in a Best Original Song winner in quite some time.

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. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
22. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
23. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
24. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
25. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
26. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
27. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
28. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
29. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
30. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
31. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
32. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
33. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
34. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
35. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
36. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
37. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
38. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
39. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
40. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
41. "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 We Were" - The Way We Were (1973)
4. "The Way You Look Tonight" - Swing Time (1936)
5. "The Morning After" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
6. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
7. "Swinging on a Star" - Going My Way (1944)
8. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
9. "Theme From Shaft" - Shaft (1971)
10. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
11. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
12. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
13. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
14. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
15. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
16. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
17. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
18. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
19. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
20. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
21. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
22. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
23. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
24. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
25. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
26. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
27. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
28. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
29. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
30. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
31. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
32. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
33. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
34. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
35. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
36. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
37. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
38. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
39. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
40. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
41. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)

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