Sunday, April 17, 2016

Best Song: "Let the River Run" (1988)

Scene from Working Girl
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.

*NOTE: Due to a personal engagement next week, Best Song will be taking next week off. It will return the following Sunday.

The Preface

The year is 1988 and The Academy is celebrating its 61st year. Director Barry Levinson definitely, definitely won Best Picture with Rain Man. Dustin Hoffman won Best Actor for the film and became the fifth person to win in the category twice. Meanwhile, Sigourney Weaver became the fifth person to receive two nominations in one year; one for Best Actress (Gorillas in the Mist) and one for Best Supporting Actress (Working Girl). Meanwhile, Working Girl took care of business and "Let the River Run" with a Best Original Song win.

The Nominees

Song: "I'm Calling You"
Film: Baghdad Cafe
Performers: Jevetta Steele

I don't necessarily think that this is a bad song, but I will admit that I haven't been this impatient listening to an Oscar-nominated song in quite awhile. The chorus is pretty good and I like the minimalist approach it takes to calling out. I feel like the lyrics have a certain poetry to it. However, there's just a lacking rhythm that makes it feel essential and good. It's a song that by two minutes in, I was dreading the reality that there's three more minutes. It gets a little bit more redundant, and I sadly can't say that I enjoyed it. I like the chorus, but everything else really just got me antsy and wanting to listen to something else.

Song: "Two Hearts"
Film: Buster
Performers: Phil Collins

It's hard to fully appreciate the work of Phil Collins until you pit him against what else came out of the 80's. Yes, this song has a certain familiarity and is at times corny. However, there's plenty of production that makes it immediately enjoyable. You are dancing and having fun. The lyrics aren't that great, but he keeps an energy going that makes you pay attention. Most of all, he actually uses instruments. This isn't a great song, but it definitely is one of those ear worms that reflect why Collins deserves more credit than he gets. He was great at pop in a decade where it was nothing but shallow. 

The Winner

Song: "Let the River Run"
Film: Working Girl
Performers: Carly Simon

I'm sure that The Academy is mistaken. This sounds like a Pepsi commercial, not an Oscar-nominated song. In all honesty, I looked at this list before starting and was able to hum most of these winners in my head. I knew that I heard "Let the River Run" before, but it wasn't coming to me. Having just heard it, I find myself still giving that familiar shoulder shrug, as it's such a nothing of a song. It's optimism and likely worked in context of the feminist film is accompanies. However, it's just a corny and empty song otherwise without any discernible legacy. That guitar solo is embarrassing and this song doesn't make me feel empowered. It just makes me want to buy a Pepsi.

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. "Somewhere Out There" - An American Tail (1986)
6. "The Man That Got Away" - A Star is Born (1954)
7. "Ben" - Ben (1972)
8. "The Sweetheart Tree" - The Great Race (1965)
9. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
10. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
11. "Nobody Does it Better" - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
12. "Out Here on My Own" - Fame (1980)
13. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)
14. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
15. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
16. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
17. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
18. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
19. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
20. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" -Mahogany (1975)
21. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Yentl (1983)
22. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
23. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
24. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
25. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
26. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
27. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
28. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
29. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
30. "Cry Freedom" - Cry Freedom (1987)
31. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
32. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
33. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
34. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
35. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
36. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
37. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
38. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
39. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
40. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
41. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
42. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
43. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
44. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
45. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
46. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
47. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
48. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
49. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
50. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
51. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
52. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
53. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
54. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
55. "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. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
32. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
33. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
34. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
35. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
36. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
37. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
38. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
39. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
40. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
41. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
42. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
43. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
44. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
45. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
46. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
47. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
48. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
49. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
50. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
51. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
52. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
53. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
54. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
55. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

1 comment:

  1. It's rather regretful that "If We Hold On Together" from The Land Before Time didn't seem to make a case for itself in 1988, especially when "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail managed to get a nomination two years prior.