Sunday, February 21, 2016

Best Song: "Fame" (1980)

Scene from Fame
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 1980 and The Academy is celebrating its 53rd year. This was the year that director Robert Redford won Best Picture for his directorial debut Ordinary People. Due to a lack of recognition for The Elephant Man's make-up work, the Best Make-Up and Hair Styling category was invented the following year. Eva La Gallienne became the last person born in the 19th century to be nominated for an Oscar (Best Supporting Actress - Resurrection). All four of the acting categories were won by people under 40. Meanwhile, Fame became the first double nominee in the Best Original Song category while winning for its titular theme.

The Nominees

Song: "People Alone"
Film: The Competition
Performers: Randy Crawford

Well, I am glad to say that the 80's are off to a strong start. For the most part, it's hard to botch a piano ballad like this. I am mostly a fan of Randy Crawford's somewhat enthusiastic yet somber voice, where she sings longingly over the piano. It's a strong production for a song with rather mundane lyrics, creating something that at least feels immediate. I like a lot of what this song is about, specifically in how everything compliments each other and finds a harmony that adds to the emotional subtext of the music.

Song: "Out Here On My Own"
Film: Fame
Performers: Irene Cara

Here is where I get a little biased. A few years back, I was surprised to learn that Lesley Gore (you know, the "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" singer) was Oscar nominated. This is what she was nominated for, and it's hard to really not express how much of a Gore song this is lyrically. There's a existentialism to the music that fits with the upbeat and aspiring nature of the song. As mentioned before, I also think it works very well because it is a simple piano ballad. Irene Cara nails this, and it only makes me hope that the remaining nominees this year aren't nearly as good (or maybe that's what I want?).

Song: "On the Road Again"
Film: Honeysuckle Rose
Performers: Willie Nelson

Well, this year is pretty stacked with great music, isn't it? It's tough to really argue against the impact of "On the Road Again." It is one of the quintessential road songs, and it likely raise a stink if I didn't pick this song as a favorite. I really like it and it's hard not to at least accept that this may be Willie Nelson's most iconic song. I like how it balances everything and even despite its simplicity manages to create an upbeat vibe the likes of which compliment the lyrics. Overall, it's a fun song and one that has definitely stood the test of time very well.

Song: "9 to 5"
Film: 9 to 5
Performers: Dolly Parton

So, when did Best Original Song decide to have a great year? Usually this category is very hit and miss. Yet this year, I am forced to decide between four really good songs that in some way are better than the others. For a decade I am likely to loathe, it really started strong, and Dolly Parton rounds out this list with a rather great theme song for a really fun movie. It's a difficult call, but this is definitely one that is difficult to forget once you hear it. It should be interesting to decide which one of these songs win. Still, there's no real loser this week, as I now have all of them stuck in my head.

The Winner

Song: "Fame"
Film: Fame
Performers: Irene Cara

If nothing else, it's nice to have a winner that's full of optimism and energy. Considering that the last few years (or most of the decade prior actually) were emphasizing slow music, it was difficult to say that any of the winners were great. I admit that Irene Cara's music has an immediacy that is a lot of fun and the music is immediately catchy. It's hard to forget "Fame," which jumps right at you and becomes one of those great musical themes. The song does what it sets out to do: makes you remember its name (Fame!), and that is enough to make this one rank pretty high.

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 Rainbow Connection" - The Muppet Movie (1979)
5. "The Man That Got Away" - A Star is Born (1954)
6. "Ben" - Ben (1972)
7. "The Sweetheart Tree" - The Great Race (1965)
8. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
9. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
10. "Nobody Does it Better" - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
11. "Out Here on My Own" - Fame (1980)
12. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
13. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
14. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
15. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
16. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
17. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" - Mahogany (1975)
18. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
19. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
20. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
21. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
22. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
23. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
24. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
25. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
26. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
27. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
28. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
29. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
30. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
31. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
32. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
33. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
34. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
35. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
36. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
37. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
38. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
39. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
40. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
41. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
42. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
43. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
44. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
45. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
46. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
47. "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. "It Goes Like It Goes" - Norma Rae (1979)
10. "Theme From Shaft" - Shaft (1971)
11. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
12. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
13. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
14. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
15. "I'm Easy" - Nashville (1975)
16. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
17. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
18. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
19. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
20. "Fame" - Fame (1980)
21. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
22. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
23. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
24. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
25. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
26. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
27. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
28. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
29. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
30. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
31. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
32. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
33. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
34. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
35. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
36. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
37. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
38. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
39. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
40. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
41. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
42. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
43. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
44. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
45. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
46. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
47. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)

No comments:

Post a Comment