Sunday, May 15, 2016

Best Song: "Beauty and the Beast" (1991)

Scene from Beauty and the Beast
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 1991 and The Academy is celebrating its 64th year. Director Jonathan Demme breaks records by having Silence of the Lambs become the first Best Picture winner in the horror genre. It also becomes one of the few to win the "Big 5" for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Jodie Foster), and Best Adapted Screenplay. Boyz in the Hood director John Singleton becomes the first African American nominated in the Best Director category. Diane Ladd and Laura Dern become the first mother daughter team to be nominated in the same year for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress (respectively) for Rambling Rose. Meanwhile, Beauty and the Beast becomes the first animated film nominated for Best Picture while sweeping the Best Original Song category for its titular theme.

The Nominees

Song: "Be Our Guest"
Film: Beauty and the Best
Performers: Jerry Orbach, Angela Lansbury, and Chorus

It's easy to see why Beauty and the Beast was a big deal upon its release. It pretty much turned Disney into art and solidified Alan Menken as possibly their greatest composer. While I think that their earlier music was good, it was never quite as concrete and catchy as this. You come away with such a whimsical and upbeat song that is memorable. It is so good and possibly the film's biggest hit in the long run. I for one love this song and am mostly relieved to know that the Best Original Song is allowed to be as fun as this. Considering the lack of innovation over the decades (even the good years), this puts a lot of them to shame. Of course, we're not through with Beauty and the Beast just yet. Prepare for even more hyperbole in a few seconds here.

Song: "Belle"
Film: Beauty and the Best
Performers: Paige O'Hara, Richard White, Alec Murphy, Mary Kay Bergman, Kath Soucie, and Chorus

I am glad that this will be as controversial as I get, but this is my favorite of the songs from Beauty and the Beast. It sets everything up so nicely without sacrificing quality. I know that it doesn't have the focus of the other songs, but there's just so much energy and community in this song that is often missing from Best Original Song nominees. You get a lot across in a short four minutes to the point that you almost never need to see the town again to know why Belle is an outsider. It's just so good and Menken continues to prove why he was one of the best things to happen to Disney outside of animation.

Song: "(Everything I Do) I Do it For You"
Film: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Performers: Bryan Adams

I guess that Disney couldn't have all of the nominations on this list. It isn't to say that this is a bad song, though it baffles me how this was from a Robin Hood movie. It's just so dated and of its time that I just assumed it was a single. I think that the chorus is pretty catchy and does a lot of the heavy lifting in making this song sound okay. However, it still has a generic and unappealing quality the rest of the time. It doesn't help that Bryan Adams sounds like he has laryngitis and probably could do with not doing it for you long enough to see a doctor about it. Otherwise, it's a decent song in comparison to other rock-centric songs that have made the rounds in recent years.

Song: "When You're Alone"
Film: Hook
Performers: Amber Scott

I guess this was the whimsical portion of John Williams' career. Following last year's excellent work on Home Alone, he returns here with an ominous song that reminds me of "Somewhere Out There." The child singer really does the trick, and adds a sense of wonder to the entire production. I come away really feeling moved by this song and feel that these type of songs in general are usually underrated. It may be difficult for this to beat any of the Beauty and the Beast songs, but it at least services as a healthy competition to it.

The Winner

Song: "Beauty and the Beast"
Film: Beauty and the Beast
Performers: Angela Lansbury

I will admit that I understand this song's placement in the Disney chronology. It's an iconic one that has endured for many years. However, it's probably my least favorite of the three. Even then, its elegance and sweeping beauty wins points for bringing Disney films back to a certain traditional standpoint. People can easily sing this song and the phrase "Tale as old as time" is forever now synonymous with the film. It's tough to not like any of the music here, especially with Angela Lansbury giving a great rendition of it. It's so full of craft that I am looking forward to gushing more about Disney  music for the rest of the 90's. It's so good to have great music on a week by week basis again.

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. "Somewhere in My Memory" - Home Alone (1990)
9. "I Love to See You Smile" - Parenthood (1989)
10. "The Sweetheart Tree" - The Great Race (1965)
11. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
12. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
13. "Nobody Does it Better" - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
14. "Out Here on My Own" - Fame (1980)
15. "Belle" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
16. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)
17. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
18. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
19. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
20. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
21. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
22. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
23. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" -Mahogany (1975)
24. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Yentl (1983)
25. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
26. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
27. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
28. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
29. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
30. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
31. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
32. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
33. "Cry Freedom" - Cry Freedom (1987)
34. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
35. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
36. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
37. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
38. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
39. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
40. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
41. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
42. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
43. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
44. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
45. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
46. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
47. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
48. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
49. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
50. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
51. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
52. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
53. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
54. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
55. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
56. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
57. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
58. "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. "Under the Sea" - The Little Mermaid (1989)
10. "It Goes Like It Goes" - Norma Rae (1979)
11. "Theme From Shaft" - Shaft (1971)
12. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
13. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
14. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
15. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
16. "I'm Easy" - Nashville (1975)
17. "Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
18. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
19. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
20. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
21. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
22. "Fame" - Fame (1980)
23. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
24. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
25. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
26. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
27. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
28. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
29. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
30. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
31. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
32. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
33. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
34. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
35. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
36. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
37. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
38. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
39. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" - Dick Tracy (1990)
40. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
41. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
42. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
43. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
44. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
45. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
46. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
47. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
48. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
49. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
50. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
51. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
52. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
53. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
54. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
55. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
56. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
57. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
58. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

No comments:

Post a Comment