Sunday, June 19, 2016

Best Song: "You Must Love Me" (1996)

Madonna in Evita
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 1996 and The Academy is celebrating its 69th year. Director Anthony Minghella won Best Picture for his sweeping epic The English Patient. Producer Saul Zeinetz became the third person to also produce three Best Picture winners (the others being One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus). Frances McDormand's Best Actress win for Fargo made her the first person to win for being directed by their spouse. Rachel Portman became the first woman to win Best Original Score (Comedy or Musical) for Emma. Meanwhile, Evita didn't need to cry with a Best Original Song win for "You Must Love Me."

The Nominees

Song: "Because You Loved Me"
Film: Up Close and Personal
Performers: Celine Dion

I know that it is popular to dislike Celine Dion and that she sings corny songs. However, I am going to give a controversial opinion - which will be even more divisive next week - in that I actually think she does the corny song model justice. There's not a lot going on in this song that's necessarily awe-inspiring, yet it manages to become heartwarming thanks to its simplicity and its ability to capture a feeling of gratitude. It may be at times a little too conventional, but it definitely manages to work in the way that the best love songs do. It's a simple and sweet song, and I may listen to it a few more times just because of how uplifting it is.

Song: "For the First Time"
Film: One Fine Day
Performers: Kenny Loggins

I will be honest. When I think of Kenny Loggins, this is the general way that I remember him. He sings ballads in that wonderful tenor of his. I admit that I am not the biggest fan of his, but this definitely works as an adequate love song, and one that manages to have enough passion to work. I don't love it, but it definitely works as a quaint song with solid production and lyrics that cover the familiar romanticism that Loggins' later work definitely had. He was great at making music like this, and this isn't the worst thing that could've been nominated. 

Song: "Finally Found Someone"
Film: The Mirror Has Two Faces
Performers: Bryan Adams, Barbara Streisand

Things aren't looking too well for Bryan Adams. Last week, he almost put me to sleep with his dull as nails "Have You Ever Loved a Woman." While this is a vast improvement, it's still bottom of the barrel work which swaps interesting production for lack of lyrical inspiration. Yes, I like Barbara Streisand. I'm sure she still does great work. However, this is also a power ballad in the vein that I just don't care for. This is a terrible song, and one that is an insult to love songs in general. I don't know who Adams annoyed to write such terrible music, but I hope he has stopped bothering them just for the sake of people with tastes in music. It's hard to make a bad Streisand song, but he definitely found a way.

Song: "That Thing You Do"
Film: That Thing You Do
Performers: The Wonders

I have to admit that I miss the diversity in the Best Original Song category sometimes. There's a lot of great genres that seem to get overlooked in favor of ballads by... shudders... Bryan Adams. This is a good example of being a novelty song that stands out more because of how tonally it is different from everything else on the list. Even then, I don't know that I am a huge fan of it. It definitely is very catchy and has a solid hook. However, it is a song that does that thing it does and it does it well enough that it is kind of leagues ahead above everything else on this list. I guess that I just wish that there was a better competition for it to stand out among.

The Winner

Song: "You Must Love Me"
Film: Evita
Performers: Madonna

Listen, I like Evita quite a bit. I think that among the soulless songs that are created solely to get an Oscar nomination from an established musical that this is one tonally succinct. I just don't know that it does a whole lot to stand out. It's good, but its tenderness and vulnerability can only help it so much. There's far more intriguing songs within the film that put it to shame (all of which are disqualified). However, I guess that it's the best of this bunch, which I'd argue is one of the slower years for this category that I've had in a long, long time. It's good and I like its production. Madonna does solid work. It's just a little unassuming at times, and it's hard for me to enjoy it out of context.

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. "Belle" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
18. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)
19. "Friend Like Me" - Aladdin (1992)
20. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
21. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
22. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
23. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
24. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
25. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
26. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" -Mahogany (1975)
27. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Yentl (1983)
28. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
29. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
30. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
31. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
32. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
33. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
34. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
35. "Again" - Poetic Justice (1993)
36. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
37. "Cry Freedom" - Cry Freedom (1987)
38. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
39. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
40. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
41. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
42. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
43. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
44. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
45. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
46. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
47. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
48. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
49. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
50. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
51. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
52. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
53. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
54. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
55. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
56. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
57. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
58. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
59. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
60. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
61. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
62. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
63. "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. "A Whole New World" - Aladdin (1992)
4. "The Way We Were" - The Way We Were (1973)
5. "The Way You Look Tonight" - Swing Time (1936)
6. "The Morning After" - The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
7. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
8. "Swinging on a Star" - Going My Way (1944)
9. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
10. "Under the Sea" - The Little Mermaid (1989)
11. "It Goes Like It Goes" - Norma Rae (1979)
12. "Colors of the Wind" - Pocahontas (1995)
13. "Theme From Shaft" - Shaft (1971)
14. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
15. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
16. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
17. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
18. "I'm Easy" - Nashville (1975)
19. "Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
20. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
21. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
22. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
23. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
24. "Fame" - Fame (1980)
25. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
26. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
27. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
28. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
29. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
30. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
31. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
32. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" - The Lion King (1994)
33. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
34. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
35. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
36. "The Streets of Philadelphia" - Philadelphia (1993)
37. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
38. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
39. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
40. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
41. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
42. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
43. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" - Dick Tracy (1990)
44. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
45. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
46. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
47. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
48. "You Must Love Me" - Evita (1996)
49. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
50. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
51. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
52. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
53. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
54. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
55. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
56. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
57. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
58. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
59. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
60. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
61. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
62. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
63. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984

1 comment:

  1. While "Because You Loved Me" and "That Thing You Do!" should've been the main competition, this category could've upgraded itself by nominating "I Believe I Can Fly" from Space Jam (which won the equivalent Grammy Award that year for Best Song Written Specifically For a Motion Picture or Television).