Sunday, August 28, 2016

Best Song: "I Need to Wake Up" (2006)

Scene from An Inconvenient Truth
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 2006 and The Academy is celebrating its 79th year. Director Martin Scorsese wins Best Picture for The Departed as well as received a standing ovation when he won Best Director. Peter O'Toole's Best Actor nomination for Venus made him the most nominated actor without a win. Jennifer Hudson's Best Actress win for Dreamgirls marked her as the 15th person to win for their debut role. Meanwhile, An Inconvenient Truth becomes the first documentary to win Best Original Song with "I Need to Wake Up"

The Nominees

Song: "Listen"
Film: Dreamgirls
Performers: Beyonce

I think that I was slow to come around to Beyonce as a musician. Yes, I think she's talented and definitely knew how to make a pop song. However, her proudly feminist approach to music goes further back than I would've initially thought (Lemonade is also worth checking out). However, I think that she owns this song so well that you buy into every note as she passionately, loudly sings from the bottom of her soul. You believe her when she says that she wants some independence. You come away feeling that emotion. This definitely throws the roof off of most other nominees from recent years.

Song: "Love You I Do"
Film: Dreamgirls
Performers: Jennifer Hudson

Even though I love musicals, the Dreamgirls phenomenon escaped me. I remember trying to watch the film at home and not understanding the big deal of Jennifer Hudson's performance. She was confident and I definitely don't question her nomination. I am mostly baffled by the choice to call her the best. Still, she is a pretty good singer and she does this song justice. It's not much of a song, in fact it's kind of corny. However, it gets the point across beautifully, and sometimes that's all that's necessary to make a difference.

Song: "Our Town"
Film: Cars
Performers: James Taylor

The first thing to overcome is understanding that anything this sweet and beautiful could come from Cars. That's pretty difficult considering that even 10 years later, it's on the lower tier of Pixar's work. However, I do have to admit that James Taylor is an easy sell otherwise. His simple acoustic guitar and humble voice does make for a nice song. I definitely think that there's something here with integrity and heart that makes it stand out. I simply don't buy it as a Cars song, which is what keeps throwing me off, I guess.

Song: "Patience"
Film: Dreamgirls
Performers:  Eddie Murphy, Anika Noni Rose, and Keith Robinson

Like I mentioned earlier, the whole Dreamgirls phenomenon escaped me. While I definitely think that there's plenty of quality production here, it falls on the side of merely liking the song. I admit that I still get a kick out of Eddie Murphy doing something above his norm for this film, but this is your average soul song where everyone sings in harmony. It's good, but there's so many others that have a standout moment. I dare argue that Beyonce's nominated song alone proves this case. Still, I get why Dreamgirls came up strong this year. Music-heavy films deserve to dominate this category. I just am not wild about this song.

The Winner

Song: "I Need to Wake Up"
Film: An Inconvenient Truth
Performers: Melissa Etheridge

I guess there was a time when this novelty wasn't so hollow and contrived. As much as I'm for music in film, there's something about making message songs for documentaries that feels crass to me. In this case, it's not much of a song beyond the whole "save the Earth" thing that Al Gore was singing about. In my opinion, it's not even a great Melissa Etheridge song and relies on her familiar cadence and rhythms. It doesn't have much going for it, and I definitely think it set up a bad trend of Oscar nominated music from documentaries, specifically in the field of unnecessary. Maybe if this song was better, I could change my mind. Instead, I'm left rolling my eyes because I knew that we needed to save the planet before this song started, and it does little to make me want to be active. Also, every song from Dreamgirls on here is leagues better. This win is nonsense.

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. "Listen" - Dreamgirls (2006)
46. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
47. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
48. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
49. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
50. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
51. "Look to Your Path" - The Chorus (2004)
52. "The Hands That Built America" - Gangs of New York (2002)
53. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
54. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
55. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
56. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
57. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
58. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
59. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
60. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
61. "Travellin' Thru" - Transamerica (2005)
62. "Vanilla Sky" - Vanilla Sky (2001)
63. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
64. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
65. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
66. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
67. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
68. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
69. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
70. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
71. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
72. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
73. "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. "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" - Hustle & Flow (2005)
56. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
57. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
58. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
59. "If I Didn't Have You" - Monsters Inc. (2001)
60. "When You Believe" - The Prince of Egypt (1998)
61. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
62. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
63. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
64. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
65. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
66. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
67. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
68. "I Need to Wake Up" - An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
69. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
70. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
71. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
72. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
73. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

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