Sunday, July 24, 2016

Best Song: "If I Didn't Have You" (2001)

Scene from Monsters Inc.
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 2001 and The Academy is celebrating its 74th year. Director Ron Howard wins Best Picture for the biopic A Beautiful Mind. Dreamworks became the second studio to release three consecutive Best Picture winners. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings became the seventh film to receive 13 nominations. Denzel Washington's Best Actor win for Training Day made him the second African American to win the category following Sidney Poitier. Halle Berry became the first African American to win Best Actress for Monster's Ball. Best Actress nominee Judi Dench and Best Supporting Actress nominee Kate Winslet become the second pair of actresses nominated for playing the same character - both in the film Iris. Meanwhile, Randy Newman joins Monsters Inc. by singing "If I Didn't Have You."

The Nominees

Song: "May It Be"
Film: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
Performers: Enya

I think that the Enya phenomenon passed me by. On top of not realizing that this movie had a song, I find myself at odds with this song. It is fine. I like that it is meditative and almost has a lingering echo on every note. I think that it is massively well produced as well. However, I come away feeling a little underwhelmed by the whole song, maybe because I am not generally into this style of music. However, it's still good. I think that it achieves a haunting quality that only Enya really has been able to achieve. It's just not something that I personally connect with.

Song: "There You'll Be"
Film: Pearl Harbor
Performers: Faith Hill

There Michael Bay goes again ripping off Titanic. Unlike last time, this one actually works most of the time in capturing that epic earnestness. With a nice hook, the song's longing for love and optimism is perfectly on display. I think that it's a bit cheesy, but it goes back to my belief that this category should be filled with radio hits. This is definitely one of those ballads that wins you over and makes you feel for something better. It's not the best, but at least Bay is going for something more than cheese here. He doesn't always succeed, but Diane Warren saves him in his moment of weakness.

Song: "Until"
Film: Kate & Leopold
Performers: Sting

Ugh. Who keeps giving Sting Oscar nominations? Seriously.

Song: "Vanilla Sky"
Film: Vanilla Sky
Performers: Paul McCartney

I'm guessing classic rock stars getting Oscar nominations is going to be the trend this decade. After last week's Bob Dylan entry, here's Paul McCartney with a rather solid and simple song. I admit that the lack of lyrics does make it a bit redundant, but it does manage to fall on the catchier side. After all, he has written some of the best pop hooks in history. This isn't his best, but he definitely shows how you do it in a year dominated with lackluster, unmemorable talent. This may just win because it has enough going for it. Still, it's quite a quizzical song, and one that could go on for another few minutes and win me back over. 

The Winner

Song: "If I Didn't Have You"
Film: Monsters Inc.
Performers: Billy Crystal, John Goodman

Right off the bat, I'm immediately thinking of Toy Story and "You've Got a Friend in Me." Part of me feels like Randy Newman won for this sole reason. The rest of the song is good, but it becomes baffling to think why it won. It's corny and doesn't have much going for it besides Billy Crystal riffing. Also, it feels like it lasts a whole minute longer than it should. I love Monsters Inc., but this song doesn't have much going for it that's necessarily great. Oh well. I guess that this is the closest that we'll ever get to John Goodman getting that deserved Oscar nomination.

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. "When She Loved Me"  Toy Story 2 (1999)
2. "The Green Leaves of Summer" - The Alamo (1960)
3. "That's Amore" - The Caddy (1953)
4. "A Town Without Pity" - A Town Without Pity (1961)
5. "The Rainbow Connection" - The Muppet Movie (1979)
6. "Somewhere Out There" - An American Tail (1986)
7. "The Circle of Life" - The Lion King (1994)
8. "The Man That Got Away" - A Star is Born (1954)
9. "Ben" - Ben (1972)
10. "You've Got a Friend in Me" - Toy Story (1995)
11. "Somewhere in My Memory" - Home Alone (1990)
12. "I Love to See You Smile" - Parenthood (1989)
13. "The Sweetheart Tree" - The Great Race (1965)
14. "Carioca" - Flying Down to Rio (1934)
15. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" - Buck Privates (1941)
16. "Nobody Does it Better" - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
17. "Out Here on My Own" - Fame (1980)
18. "Journey Into the Past" - Anastasia (1997)
19. "Belle" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
20. "I've Seen it All" - Dancer in the Dark (2000)
21. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)
22. "Friend Like Me" - Aladdin (1992)
23. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
24. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
25. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
26. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
27. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
28. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
29. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" -Mahogany (1975)
30. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Yentl (1983)
31. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
32. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
33. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
34. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
35. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
36. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
37. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
38. "Again" - Poetic Justice (1993)
39. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
40. "Cry Freedom" - Cry Freedom (1987)
41. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
42. "That'll Do" - Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
43. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
44. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
45. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
46. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
47. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
48. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
49. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
50. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
51. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
52. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
53. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
54. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
55. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
56. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
57. "Vanilla Sky" - Vanilla Sky (2001)
58. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
59. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
60. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
61. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
62. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
63. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
64. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
65. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
66. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
67. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
68. "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. "You'll Be in My Heart" - Tarzan (1999)
14. "Colors of the Wind" - Pocahontas (1995)
15. "Theme From Shaft" - Shaft (1971)
16. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
17. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
18. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
19. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
20. "I'm Easy" - Nashville (1975)
21. "Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
22. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
23. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
24. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
25. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
26. "Fame" - Fame (1980)
27. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
28. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
29. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
30. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
31. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
32. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
33. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
34. "Things Have Changed" - Wonder Boys (2000)
35. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" - The Lion King (1994)
36. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
37. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
38. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
39. "The Streets of Philadelphia" - Philadelphia (1993)
40. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
41. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
42. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
43. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
44. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
45. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
46. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" - Dick Tracy (1990)
47. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
48. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
49. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
50. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
51. "You Must Love Me" - Evita (1996)
52. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
53. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
54. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
55. "If I Didn't Have You" - Monsters Inc. (2001)
56. "When You Believe" - The Prince of Egypt (1998)
57. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
58. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
59. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
60. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
61. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
62. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
63. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
64. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
65. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
66. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
67. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
68. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

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