Sunday, July 3, 2016

Best Song: "When You Believe" (1998)

Scene from The Prince of Egypt
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 1998 and The Academy is celebrating its 71st year.  Director John Madden becomes the third director to have a Shakespeare-based film win Best Picture with Shakespeare in Love.  Life is Beautiful became the second film to be nominated in both Best Picture and Best Foreign Film. The film's Roberto Benigni became the second person to direct himself to a Best Actor win, the third to win for a non-English speaking role, and the fourth to receive acting, directing, writing, and producing nominations for the same film. Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench became the first duo to receive nominations for playing the same role (Queen Elizabeth) in two different films and eras. Meanwhile, The Prince of Egypt rules in the Best Original Song category with the number "When You Believe."

The Nominees

Song: "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"
Film: Armageddon
Performers: Aerosmith

Well, someone saw Titanic. Seriously, it's hard to not listen to this song and imagine that some executives thought that it would be a good idea to have their own version of a ballad in Michael Bay's asteroid movie. The only difference is that Celine Dion is too wimpy. They needed Aerosmith to be all tender, with help from reliable lyricist Dianne Warren. It's a little distracting when you do all of these songs in a row, but that's not necessarily a problem. The song's actually a decent burner of a track that managed to capture longing and desire in ways that most of the songs on this list don't. For starters, it's a radio hit that I've heard way too much. It's also evidence that the Best Original Song could be a lot more interesting than it ends up being. This is a pretty good song, though it definitely sounds like it exists for cynical reasons.


Song: "The Prayer"
Film: Quest for Camelot
Performers: Celine Dion

Hey, welcome back Celine Dion. She never left, but considering that she's coming off of Titanic, this does feel a little like a sympathy nomination. The song itself is fine and has a tender and perfectly reasonable existence from a film that I barely remember. There's not much that I really have to say on this number other than that I realize that Dion used to be everywhere and she doesn't bother me as much as I would initially believe. It's a good song, but I don't have much of an opinion on it otherwise.

Song: "A Soft Place to Fall"
Film: The Horse Whisperer
Performers: Allison Moorer

I have to be honest. It could just be that we're coming off of a stellar year, but nothing from this group of nominees is really standing out as being impressive. I will give Allison Moorer credit. She does do the ballad justice with some beautiful melodies and a nice country twinge in the background. Overall, it's a sweet and sentimental song that moves at a stead pace. I'm sure that if I was given context that I would like the song better. For now, I can say that it was okay and the production was solid. However, it doesn't really stick with me as being memorable beyond the clever title.

Song: "That'll Do"
Film: Babe:: Pig in the City
Performers: Peter Gabriel

Right as I was ready to write off 1998's group of nominees, Randy Newman returns with his unique style of melodies and the deceptively simple subject. With help from Peter Gabriel, it's a tender song with an immediately catchy melody that overwhelms the sentimentality and makes for a great song. I like that even though it doesn't sound big, it draws you in and builds slowly to a great and simple "That'll do." I like this song and the production is really good. The melody is even better. It may not be the greatest song ever to come out of this category, but it definitely gets the smile going.

The Winner

Song: "When You Believe"
Film: The Prince of Egypt
Performers: Sally Dworsky

I will give them this. This is probably the most pronounced production of every song on this list. It definitely has a sense of grandiosity that overwhelms, eventually building to a powerful closing. The theme is also simple and beautiful in its own way. However, I just don't feel much power coming from the song otherwise. It's a little too straightforward and doesn't do much clever with the lyrics and content at hand. Yes, the multilingual approach was a nice touch, but what does this song really have that makes it stand out? You can say that any Disney film was the Frozen of its time and that x was the "Let it Go" in which an annoying earworm with mundane lyrics took the nation by storm without reason. I'd say that this is more in line with that, but way worse.

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. "That'll Do" - Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
41. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
42. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
43. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
44. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
45. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
46. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
47. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
48. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
49. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
50. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
51. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
52. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
53. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
54. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
55. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
56. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
57. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
58. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
59. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
60. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
61. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
62. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
63. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
64. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
65. "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. "When You Believe" - The Prince of Egypt (1998)
54. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
55. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
56. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
57. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
58. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
59. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
60. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
61. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
62. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
63. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
64. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
65. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

No comments:

Post a Comment