Sunday, August 14, 2016

Best Song: "Al otra lado del rio" (2004)

Scene from The Motorcycle Diaries
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 2004 and The Academy is celebrating its 77th year. Director Clint Eastwood won Best Picture for Million Dollar Baby. At the age of 74, Eastwood was also the oldest Best Director winner in history. With the loss of his Best Director nomination for The Aviator, Martin Scorsese became the fifth person to have the most nominations without a category win up to that point. Jamie Foxx won for Best Actor with Ray and was nominated for Best Supportign Actor with Collateral - thus making him only the second actor to have two nominations in one year. Cate Blanchett's win for Best Supporting Actress win for The Aviator marked her as the first person to win an Oscar for playing an Oscar winner (Katharine Hepburn). Meanwhile, Best Original Song marked the second non-English song to win the category with The Motorcycle Diaries' "Al otro lado del rio."

The Nominees

Song: "Accidentally in Love"
Film: Shrek 2
Performers: The Counting Crows

It may be fashionable to hate on the Shrek series nowadays, but I have to admit one thing. As cornball as their soundtracks were, they always tended to be some of the better in animated films. I definitely think that this meets the ear worm category, even if it's impossible really to pin this song to the film. Still, The Counting Crows sure wrote a catchy melody and made it so easy to sing along to. I personally really like this, even if the lyric department is very straightforward and silly. Still, I wish more songs like this would be made nowadays that had weight as well as catchy melodies and top notch productions.

Song: "Believe"
Film: The Polar Express
Performers: Josh Groban

I'm unsure if this is a popular opinion, but I think that Christmas songs bring out the worst in performers. The countless cover albums feel like soulless cash cows that add no artistic merit to conversation. I will give those credit that try to write original songs. They at least manage to feel a festivity that the hollowed out covers don't. To be frank, even those feel so grounded in a specific melody pattern that it's hard to really respect them. I come away from this song sort of unmoved because of how generic is sounds as a Christmas song. Josh Groban is a good singer and he delivers a great performance. It's just that everything else feels so familiar and crass that I cannot get on board with what it's saying.

Song: "Learn to Be Lonely"
Film: The Phantom of the Opera
Performers: Minnie Driver

I have to give points for the song tackling a subject that I haven't seen a million times on here. Loneliness is an inspired theme for a song, especially in relation to this source material. However, I still come away feeling like it is largely a so-so song that only works because it is melancholic. There are too many traces of optimism for my liking. Still, it's a decent song, but it does have a certain generic quality that I just cannot grab onto. Still, Minnie Driver is a far better singer than I would've assumed, so there's extra points for that as well.

Song: "Look to Your Path"
Film: The Chorus
Performers: Choir

Wow. That's one of the fun things about doing this list. I have heard so many songs that I otherwise wouldn't have. I am unsure if this is better than "Accidentally in Love" on a personal level, but I come away very moved by everything about this song. The melodies are transcendent and the pace is magnificent. I don't even know what The Chorus is, but it definitely sounds wonderful. If it's packed with more music like this, then I may be giving it a shot. Wow, is this just some powerful stuff or what.

The Winner

Song: "Al otro lado del rio"
Film: The Motorcycle Diaries
Performers: Jorge Drexler

I think that this is a good song. In fact, I would even say that I love how romantic Jorge Drexler's vocals are. I like that the melody and guitar is very simple and to the point. However, I come away with a resounding curiosity as to why this song won. It seems so small and uninterested in being recognized. Compared to the other winners from around this time, it doesn't make sense. Still, it is a nice little song and it's nice to see that The Academy still recognizes foreign language music as a legitimate art form. I just wish that a more interesting song won.

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. "Belleville Rendez-vous" - The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
18. "Out Here on My Own" - Fame (1980)
19. "Journey Into the Past" - Anastasia (1997)
20. "Belle" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
21. "I've Seen it All" - Dancer in the Dark (2000)
22. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)
23. "Friend Like Me" - Aladdin (1992)
24. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
25. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
26. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
27. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
28. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
29. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
30. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" -Mahogany (1975)
31. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Yentl (1983)
32. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
33. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
34. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
35. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
36. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
37. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
38. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
39. "Again" - Poetic Justice (1993)
40. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
41. "Cry Freedom" - Cry Freedom (1987)
42. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
43. "That'll Do" - Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
44. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
45. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
46. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
47. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
48. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
49. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
50. "Look to Your Path" - The Chorus (2004)
51. "The Hands That Built America" - Gangs of New York (2002)
52. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
53. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
54. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
55. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
56. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
57. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
58. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
59. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
60. "Vanilla Sky" - Vanilla Sky (2001)
61. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
62. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
63. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
64. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
65. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
66. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
67. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
68. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
69. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
70. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
71. "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. "Into the West" - Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
39. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
40. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
41. "The Streets of Philadelphia" - Philadelphia (1993)
42. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
43. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
44. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
45. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
46. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
47. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
48. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" - Dick Tracy (1990)
49. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
50. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
51. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
52. "Al otra lado del rio" - The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
53. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
54. "You Must Love Me" - Evita (1996)
55. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
56. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
57. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
58. "If I Didn't Have You" - Monsters Inc. (2001)
59. "When You Believe" - The Prince of Egypt (1998)
60. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
61. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
62. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
63. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
64. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
65. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
66. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
67. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
68. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
69. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
70. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
71. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

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