Sunday, July 31, 2016

Best Song: "Lose Yourself" (2002)

Scene from 8 Mile
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 2002 and The Academy is celebrating its 75th year. Director Rob Marshall breaks the curse with the first musical to win Best Picture in over 30 years. Adrien Brody's win for Best Actor for The Pianist makes him the youngest winner of the category at age 29. Meryl Streep's Best Supporting Actress nomination for Adaptation marks her 13th nomination and makes her the most nominated female performer in the award's history. Likewise, Jack Nicholson's Best Actor nomination marked his 12th nomination and made him the most nominated male performer. Likewise, Nicholson and Best Actor nominee Michael Caine (The Quiet American) became the second and third person to be nominated in five separate decades. Julianne Moore received Best Actress (Far From Heaven) and Best Supporting Actress (The Hours) nominations making her the ninth performer to be nominated twice in one year. Meanwhile, a journey down to Best Original Song asks us to "Lose Yourself" as 8 Mile becomes the first rap song to win the category.

The Nominees

Song: "Burn it Blue"
Film: Frida
Performers: Caetano Veloso, Lila Downs

It's nice to hear some upbeat music on this list. I especially like the Latin vibe on this song and the guitar's steady beat is a lot of fun. I definitely think that Caetano Veloso's singing is so full of passion that it resonates in every line he sings. I think that it loses some energy on the back half - though I'm just not sure if this is a conjoined version of two different songs. Otherwise, I really like it and feel that it's a strong way to kick off 2002's nominees. I admit that it's very catchy and has a lot going for it. I just hope my memory of this decade being the one that loses all of the fun music nominees isn't true because, to be fair, it's songs like these that remind me of how few of them I've actually heard before despite having lived through them all.

Song: "Father and Daughter"
Film: The Wild Thornberrys Movie
Performers: Paul Simon

I will admit that I have never been the biggest Paul Simon fan. I think that he's fine, but none of his music necessarily stands out as exceptional to me. However, I will give him this. He has a knack for crafting something so mundane and simple without making it obnoxious. Here, he manages to craft a father's love for his daughter with a redundant drum beat and a silly guitar ditty that actually comes across as endearing the longer that you listen to it. To be honest, it's a corny song, and one that feels at times generic. However, Simon's passion manages to elevate it enough to something akin to heartwarming that it doesn't matter. It isn't the greatest song I've heard from Simon, but hey. At least it's another good song on this list.

Song: "The Hands That Built America"
Film: Gangs of New York
Performers: U2

I have to admit that I also miss when these songs had an overwhelming quality to them. I'm talking about songs that used production to their extent, creating an emotional resonance with strings that make you feel the power of cinema through song. I'll admit that "My Heart Will Go On" did it better, but it's one of the features of U2's song that makes this hard to say no to. In fact, I am generally a Gangs of New York apologist - believing that it is possibly Martin Scorsese's flawed masterpiece (though he does have several flawless masterpieces). It's hard to get through this song without feeling some immersion that makes me more likely to be susceptible to the lyrics of helping to build America into what it was. I may not like U2 all that much either, but man do they know how to produce an an anthemic song from time to time.

Song: "I Move On"
Film: Chicago
Performers: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Listen. I like Chicago and feel that it's status as a lesser Best Picture winner is a little unwarranted. Rob Marshall definitely deserved the credit he gets for making musicals fun again. However, there's just something about this song that feels so filler. While I will give it props for sounding like it fits in the movie it's in, it doesn't have much of anything else going for it. I like it, but I feel like it's the equivalent of a chorus line playing off the end of the show. There's no big triumphant moment. It's just a moment to take your bows and, as the song suggests, move on. It's okay, but I don't entirely get why this was nominated for reasons other than Chicago was doing big business elsewhere this year.

The Winner

Song: "Lose Yourself"
Film: 8 Mile
Performers: Eminem

Forgive me if I fall into hyperbole. This was definitely one of the songs associated with my middle school years. On the playground, we pretty much bonded over learning the lyrics to "Lose Yourself" as if it was some challenge. We were the Eminem generation who grew up during his arguably best years, and this song is more than just another rap song. It was a phenomenon of sorts, being played on every possible music station and even becoming a can-do sports anthem of sorts. I still have a strong knowledge of the lyrics, and this is one of the few Best Original Song winners from this time that I feel transcends merely winning Oscars and actually works as a genuinely great song. Basically, ask people if this won an Oscar, and you're bound to get mixed reception. This is both the epitome of what I hope The Oscars can do by providing other worthy genre songs with wins as well as the impact of the soundtrack. I cannot recall 8 Mile, but I sure can recall this song. You don't have too many songs nowadays that work without the film association.

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. "The Hands That Built America" - Gangs of New York (2002)
50. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
51. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
52. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
53. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
54. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
55. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
56. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
57. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
58. "Vanilla Sky" - Vanilla Sky (2001)
59. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
60. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
61. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
62. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
63. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
64. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
65. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
66. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
67. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
68. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
69. "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. "Lose Yourself" - 8 Mile (2002)
13. "It Goes Like It Goes" - Norma Rae (1979)
14. "You'll Be in My Heart" - Tarzan (1999)
15. "Colors of the Wind" - Pocahontas (1995)
16. "Theme From Shaft" - Shaft (1971)
17. "For All We Know" - Love and Other Strangers (1970)
18. "All the Way" - The Joker is Wild (1957)
19. "Never on Sunday" - Never on Sunday (1960)
20. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" - Mary Poppins (1964)
21. "I'm Easy" - Nashville (1975)
22. "Beauty and the Beast" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
23. "Talk to the Animals" - Dr. Dolittle (1967)
24. "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - Neptune's Daughter (1949)
25. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" - Here Comes the Groom (1951)
26. "Born Free" - Born Free (1966)
27. "Fame" - Fame (1980)
28. "Three Coins in the Fountain" - Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
29. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')" - High Noon (1952)
30. "Love is A Many Splendored Thing" - Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1955)
31. "It Might as Well Be Spring" - State Fair (1945)
32. "White Christmas" - Holiday Inn (1942)
33. "Thanks for the Memory" - The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
34. "The Last Time I Saw Paris" - Lady Be Good (1941)
35. "Things Have Changed" - Wonder Boys (2000)
36. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" - The Lion King (1994)
37. "High Hopes" - A Hole in the Head (1959)
38. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
39. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
40. "The Streets of Philadelphia" - Philadelphia (1993)
41. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
42. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
43. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
44. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
45. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
46. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
47. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" - Dick Tracy (1990)
48. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
49. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
50. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
51. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
52. "You Must Love Me" - Evita (1996)
53. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
54. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
55. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
56. "If I Didn't Have You" - Monsters Inc. (2001)
57. "When You Believe" - The Prince of Egypt (1998)
58. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
59. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
60. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
61. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
62. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
63. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
64. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
65. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
66. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
67. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
68. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
69. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

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