Sunday, September 18, 2016

Best Song: "The Weary Kind" (2009)

Scene from Crazy Heart
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 2009 and The Academy is celebrating its 82nd year. Director Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to direct a Best Picture winner as well as the first female to win Best Director. This was the first year in decades that the Best Picture field was expanded from five to 10. Up became only the second film to be nominated for Best Picture after Beauty and the Beast. Geoffrey Fletcher became the first black screenwriter to win any writing award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. Meanwhile, "The Weary Kind" kept the Best Original Song category company with a Crazy Heart.

The Nominees

Song: "Almost There"
Film: The Princess and the Frog
Performers: Anika Noni Rose

Welcome back, Randy Newman. It's been awhile since we've heard you in the Best Original Song circles. The song definitely hits all of the right notes for what he does. The rhythm is peppy and it gets you moving. The vocals by Anika Noni Rose are so enthusiastic and fun that you buy into her optimism. As a whole, this is a pretty good song from a now fairly obscure Disney film. It is such an ear worm that I wouldn't be surprised if it got stuck in my head for a few hours.

Song: "Down in New Orleans"
Film: The Princess and the Frog
Performers: Dr. John

What's most impressive is that this isn't a Billy Joel song. It has that familiar upbeat stroll that he was always so good at. Even then, another knockout number by Randy Newman with assistance from Dr. John. It captures a certain essence of place that all good songs should have. I like how it builds a character around New Orleans and gets you familiar with the feel of the film to come. I haven't even seen the film, but if the music is half as good as these two tracks, then sign me up.

Song: "Loin de Paname"
Film: Paris 36
Performers: Nora Arnezeder

It's nice to see foreign music starting to pop up with more frequency in these later years. I will admit that unlike The Triplets of Belleville from a few weeks back, I have no idea what Paris 36 is. Even then, I think that this has a nice traditional tone with the accordion and the enthusiastic French singing from Nora Arnezeder. I think that it works on the simplest levels, and it's for the best. Even if I don't speak French, I feel like singing along and finding out the wonders of Paris along with the singer.

Song: "Take It All"
Film: Nine
Performers: Marion Cotillard

Was Nine a rip-off of Chicago, I mean stylistically? Because that's all I hear when I listened to this song. Even if I really like Marion Cotillard, I am left feeling like it's a hollow song with good production, but one that feels like it's imitating something else. It is big, but it doesn't have the heart. It has the enthusiastic singing, but it doesn't have the soul. Considering that Cotillard was not far off of La Vie en Rose at this point, I know that she could sing with power. This song doesn't really have that. It's merely a generic song that feels like it hopped on a bandwagon started by the rise of the 21st century musical movies, a.k.a. Chicago.

The Winner

Song: "The Weary Kind"
Film: Crazy Heart
Performers: Ryan Bingham

I understand why this won. I understand how much people wanted to reward Jeff Bridges after snubbing him for most of his career. However, this song is just fine. In fairness, this isn't the greatest year, even with some top notch Disney songs to elevate things a little. This may be far from the most distinctive decade of music that the Best Original Song category has had, but it's been the most excitingly diverse. I am fine with this winning because it is filled with soul and emotion in a way that's fine. It will get you choked up if you're in the right mood. Otherwise, it's not the best way to end such a fascinating decade for this category, but it'll do.

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. "That's How You Know" - Enchanted (2007)
18. "Belleville Rendez-vous" - The Triplets of Belleville (2003)
19. "Out Here on My Own" - Fame (1980)
20. "Journey Into the Past" - Anastasia (1997)
21. "Belle" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
22. "I've Seen it All" - Dancer in the Dark (2000)
23. "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters (1984)
24. "Friend Like Me" - Aladdin (1992)
25. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
26. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
27. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
28. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
29. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
30. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
31. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" -Mahogany (1975)
32. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Yentl (1983)
33. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
34. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
35. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
36. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
37. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
38. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
39. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
40. "Again" - Poetic Justice (1993)
41. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
42. "Cry Freedom" - Cry Freedom (1987)
43. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
44. "That'll Do" - Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
45. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
46. "Listen" - Dreamgirls (2006)
47. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
48. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
49. "Down in New Orleans" - The Princess and the Frog (2009)
50. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
51. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
52. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
53. "Look to Your Path" - The Chorus (2004)
54. "The Hands That Built America" - Gangs of New York (2002)
55. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
56. "O... Saya" - Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
57. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
58. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
59. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
60. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
61. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
62. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
63. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
64. "Travellin' Thru" - Transamerica (2005)
65. "Vanilla Sky" - Vanilla Sky (2001)
66. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
67. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
68. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
69. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
70. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
71. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
72. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
73. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
74. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
75. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
76. "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. "Jai Ho" - Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
39. "Into the West" - Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
40. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
41. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
42. "The Streets of Philadelphia" - Philadelphia (1993)
43. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
44. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
45. "The Weary Kind" - Crazy Heart (2009)
46. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
47. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
48. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
49. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
50. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" - Dick Tracy (1990)
51. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
52. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
53. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
54. "Al otra lado del rio" - The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
55. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
56. "You Must Love Me" - Evita (1996)
57. "Falling Slowly" - Once (2007)
58. "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" - Hustle & Flow (2005)
59. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
60. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
61. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
62. "If I Didn't Have You" - Monsters Inc. (2001)
63. "When You Believe" - The Prince of Egypt (1998)
64. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
65. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
66. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
67. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
68. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
69. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
70. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
71. "I Need to Wake Up" - An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
72. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
73. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
74. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
75. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
76. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

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