Sunday, June 26, 2016

Best Song: "My Heart Will Go On" (1997)

Scene from Titanic
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 1997 and The Academy is celebrating its 70th year. Director James Cameron proved that he was king of the world as Titanic topped the box office as well as won Best Picture. It tied with Ben-Hur for most Oscar wins and tied with All About Eve for most Oscar nominations. Best Actress nominee Kate Winslet and Best Supporting Actress nominee Gloria Stuart marked the first time that two people were nominated for playing the same character. Stuart would go on at the age of 87 to be the oldest Oscar winner. Helen Hunt's win for Best Actress in As Good As It Gets marked her as the first winner to also be concurrently on a TV show. Jack Nicholson's Best Actor win for the same film marked him as the fourth person to win at least three acting Oscars. This is also the last year as of 2016 that none of the winners portrayed an actual living person. Meanwhile, Titanic also sank the competition in Best Original Song by suggesting that "My Heart Will Go On."

The Nominees

Song: "I Can Go the Distance"
Film: Hercules
Performers: Roger Bart

I know that it isn't in keeping with my opinions regarding Alan Menken's fantastic work, but this definitely feels like a filler nominee. While I like Hercules, I feel like the film has a lot of better songs in its mix that could've taken its spot. This merely feels like it's here to apologize for not nominating the almost similar subjectively "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid not getting nominated. It's good, but it's bare bones in a way that keeps it from standing out in any significant way. 

Song: "How Do I Live"
Film: Con Air
Performers: Trisha Yearwood

Wait, this was from Con Air? I will give movie soundtracks this. They used to be worthy of Oscars. I'm not talking specifically about this song, but the fact is that these soundtracks used to have legitimate radio hits that made the Best Original Song an exciting category. Now they're full of obscure titles that you'd never hear anywhere else. I am not sure how I personally feel about this song, as I've likely heard it dozens of times on the radio throughout my life. It's good, but it doesn't quite move me. I also did discover that the song was also nominated for a Razzie, which is interesting. I wouldn't say it's bad. It's good. However, it makes me wish that movie soundtracks were a little more inspired nowadays.


Song: "Journey to the Past"
Film: Anastasia
Performers: Liz Callaway

Fun fact: This ISN'T Disney. People seem to make that mistake when approaching Anastasia, largely because it's just that good. In fact, the rhythms are some of the best that I've heard in awhile and the orchestration is on par. I like how it builds and creates a beautiful melody about longing to find where you belong. It's beautiful and powerful in the right ways. I don't know what it is, but the melody just hits the right spot and never quite leaves. It's infectious in ways that non-Disney nominees tend to not be, at least around this time. Good luck trying to top this one, other nominees.

Song: "Miss Misery"
Film: Good Will Hunting
Performers: Elliott Smith

I will be honest. I was really looking forward to having Elliott Smith on my Best Loser column. Like all kids who grew up post-90's, there is that Smith phase that makes him so integral. I am definitely glad to see him nominated and it's for a pretty good song. I like his hushed voice and the orchestration that plays behind him. It's a nice, slow lull that makes for one of the most melancholic yet catchy songs that I've heard in recent years. The only issue is that Anastasia happened, and its upbeat niceness and quality production makes it hard to give Smith even a biased win. Still, this is a really good song and I think it's a good sign when a year has me make tough choices like this.

The Winner

Song: "My Heart Will Go On"
Film: Titanic
Performers: Celine Dion

Go ahead and call it corny. This is one of the most overwhelming songs I've ever heard, and it's hard for me not to feel that way when the first notes hit. I don't even love Titanic that much, but there's something about the production that captures me each time, as if I'm hearing the best composers of our times play for us. What's weird is that I don't even like Celine Dion that much. I don't know why I love this song, but I don't listen to it much for fear of becoming a mess. It's so beautiful and overpowering in the right ways. I've only accepted it more as I've gotten older, and I worry to share my thoughts on this song solely because I know the opinion is different, and that I am ranking it the third best song out of 64 is blasphemous to some. I cannot tell you why some music resonates the way it does, but this is the inexplicable one that gets me every 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 Rainbow Connection" - The Muppet Movie (1979)
5. "Somewhere Out There" - An American Tail (1986)
6. "The Circle of Life" - The Lion King (1994)
7. "The Man That Got Away" - A Star is Born (1954)
8. "Ben" - Ben (1972)
9. "You've Got a Friend in Me" - Toy Story (1995)
10. "Somewhere in My Memory" - Home Alone (1990)
11. "I Love to See You Smile" - Parenthood (1989)
12. "The Sweetheart Tree" - The Great Race (1965)
13. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
14. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
15. "Nobody Does it Better" - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
16. "Out Here on My Own" - Fame (1980)
17. "Journey Into the Past" - Anastasia (1997)
18. "Belle" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
19. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)
20. "Friend Like Me" - Aladdin (1992)
21. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
22. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
23. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
24. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
25. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
26. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
27. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" -Mahogany (1975)
28. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Yentl (1983)
29. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
30. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
31. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
32. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
33. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
34. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
35. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
36. "Again" - Poetic Justice (1993)
37. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
38. "Cry Freedom" - Cry Freedom (1987)
39. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
40. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
41. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
42. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
43. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
44. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
45. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
46. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
47. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
48. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
49. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
50. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
51. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
52. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
53. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
54. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
55. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
56. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
57. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
58. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
59. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
60. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
61. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
62. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
63. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
64. "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. "My Heart Will Go On" - Titanic (1997)
4. "A Whole New World" - Aladdin (1992)
5. "The Way We Were" - The Way We Were (1973)
6. "The Way You Look Tonight" - Swing Time (1936)
7. "The Morning After" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
8. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
9. "Swinging on a Star" - Going My Way (1944)
10. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
11. "Under the Sea" - The Little Mermaid (1989)
12. "It Goes Like It Goes" - Norma Rae (1979)
13. "Colors of the Wind" - Pocahontas (1995)
14. "Theme From Shaft" - Shaft (1971)
15. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
16. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
17. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
18. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
19. "I'm Easy" - Nashville (1975)
20. "Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
21. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
22. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
23. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
24. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
25. "Fame" - Fame (1980)
26. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
27. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
28. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
29. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
30. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
31. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
32. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
33. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" - The Lion King (1994)
34. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
35. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
36. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
37. "The Streets of Philadelphia" - Philadelphia (1993)
38. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
39. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
40. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
41. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
42. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
43. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
44. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" - Dick Tracy (1990)
45. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
46. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
47. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
48. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
49. "You Must Love Me" - Evita (1996)
50. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
51. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
52. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
53. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
54. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
55. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
56. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
57. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
58. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
59. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
60. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
61. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
62. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
63. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
64. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with the "My Heart Will Go On" victory and ranking. Also, if there's one song from Hercules that should've been nominated, it should've been "I Won't Say (I'm In Love)", the one song that actually fits the film's often disjointed tone of Greek myth with Gospel music.