Sunday, October 23, 2016

Best Song: "Glory" (2014)

Scene from Selma
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 2014 and The Academy is celebrating its 87th year. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Birdman won Best Picture. It was also the first time in five years that every Best Picture nominee won at least one award. Birdman was also the first Best Picture winner to do so without a Best Editing nomination since Ordinary People. Inarritu was also the second-consecutive Best Director winner to be of Mexican heritage. Birdman's Emmnauel Lubezki's Best Cinematography win made him the fourth person to win consecutive Oscars in the category. Robert Duvall's Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Judge made him the oldest acting nominee ever at the age of 84. Meanwhile, Selma marched with "Glory" on its way to a Best Original Song win.

The Nominees

Song: "Everything is Awesome"
Film: The LEGO Movie
Performers: Tegan and Sara, The Lonely Island

The only good thing to come out of this song was the Lego Oscar. Everything else is contrived ear worm material. Speaking as I like both Tegan and Sara and The Lonely Island, it is unfortunate that I can't stand this song. It doesn't really have much in the way of substance and the chorus is about the only thing that has given this any form of a legacy It's a mediocre song, and it shouldn't have been nominated just like the movie wasn't for equally rational reasons. The only positive that I hope comes from this is that this means that any song from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping stands a chance of making this year's cut. Trust me, that is an inspired soundtrack that puts "Everything is Awesome" to shame.

Song: "Grateful"
Film: Beyond the Lights
Performers: Rita Ora

There's so much that works about this song on a base level. It has the soaring chorus that captures its essence. There's the sincere lyrics that create a deeper emotion. It feels like Rita Ora actually is grateful. While I do wish that there was a bit more of a hook to it, it does work as a general pop song. It fills the listener with wonder and makes them appreciate everything more. It's not a great song, but it's a strong filler nominee that is very well produced and captures at its center what the nominees of recent years should have: passion.

Song: "I'm Not Gonna Miss You"
Film: Glen Campbell:: I'll Be Me
Performers: Glen Campbell

Seriously, let's ask ourselves why this didn't win. It has the same emotional impact that the more publicized Johnny Cash cover of "Hurt" had. It's so earnest and passionate that it tears right to the core. You feel sad as the man sings directly to you. My one concern was that this song doesn't hold up without the context of Glen Campbell's failing health. I think it does, and it reflects the rare gift of an artist who is able to perfectly expose himself in his autumn years. Seriously, this is like the inspired levels that David Bowie's "Blackstar" did earlier this year. It's an emotional roller coaster. I wonder if this only lost because of the Oscars So White backlash and the idea of awarding a country song would be seen as appealing to old white people. Seriously, this puts Crazy Heart's "The Weary Kind" to shame. It's so good, especially in an otherwise not awesome year.

Song: "Lost Stars"
Film: Begin Again
Performers: Adam Levine

This is quite the year for filler nominees. Begin Again is a terrible movie, so it is a relief that the one song that spawned from it was a quaint little pop ditty. It manages to have the swaying vibe of contemplation that makes generic pop work. It doesn't have much else going for it beyond that. It's just a song that feels manufactured to produce this philosophical bent that we're all "lost stars" as the song puts it. Adam Levine in context is fine, though I don't know that he brings anything exceptional to it. This song is so middle of the road. I fear that this is the caliber to which all future Oscar nominated songs will strive. Help us if this is true. We really deserve better.

The Winner

Song: "Glory"
Film: Selma
Performers: John Legend, Common

I get why this song won. It definitely has the power to move the audience, especially in juxtaposition to Selma. It has so much rich content that explores America's Civil Rights history. It is a well crafted, well produced song. My issue is that I don't feel like it is more than a message song with the corny addition of Common rapping great ideas over it. John Legend solo could've knocked this out of the park. It has so much going on that it's easy to ignore that some of it is a tad predictable. I think it is a song that won mostly for its time and place. Then again, it probably also won because this was such a mediocre year for music. Who knows.

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. "The Moon Song" - Her (2013)
26. "I See the Light" - Tangled (2010)
27. "Eye of the Tiger" - Rocky III (1982)
28. "Gonna Fly Now" - Rocky (1976)
29. "Charade" - Charade (1963)
30. "Pieces of Dreams" - Pieces of Dreams (1970)
31. "Wild is the Wind" - Wild is the Wind (1957) 
32. "(Love is) The Tender Trap" - The Tender Trap (1955) 
33. "Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" -Mahogany (1975)
34. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" - Yentl (1983)
35. "Pi's Lullaby" - Life of Pi (2012)
36. "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" - Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me (2014)
37. "Pass That Peace Pipe" - Good News (1947)
38. "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old" - Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)
39. "Cheek to Cheek" - Top Hat (1935)
40. "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" - Orchestra Wives (1942)
41. "Georgy Girl" - Georgy Girl (1966)
42. "The Trolley Song" - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
43. "Ac-Cent-U-Ate the Positive" - Here Comes the Wave (1945)
44. "Again" - Poetic Justice (1993)
45. "Come Saturday Morning" - The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)
46. "Cry Freedom" - Cry Freedom (1987)
47. "Live and Let Die" - Live and Let Die (1973)
48. "That'll Do" - Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
49. "Blazing Saddles" - Blazing Saddles (1974)
50. "Listen" - Dreamgirls (2006)
51. "Life is What You Make It" - Koch (1971)
52. "Thoroughly Modern Millie" - Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
53. "Down in New Orleans" - The Princess and the Frog (2009)
54. "Where Love Has Gone" - Where Love Has Gone (1964)
55. "Zing a Little Zong"  - Just For You (1952)
56. "Ready to Take a Chance Again" - Foul Play (1978)
57. "Look to Your Path" - The Chorus (2004)
58. "The Hands That Built America" - Gangs of New York (2002)
59. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
60. "O... Saya" - Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
61. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
62. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
63. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
64. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
65. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
66. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
67. "Real in Rio" - Rio (2011)
68. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
69. "Travellin' Thru" - Transamerica (2005)
70. "Vanilla Sky" - Vanilla Sky (2001)
71. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
72. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
73. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
74. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
75. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
76. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
77. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
78. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
79. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
80. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
81. "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. "Let It Go" - Frozen (2013)
40. "Into the West" - Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
41. "Gigi" - Gigi (1958)
42. "Mona Lisa" - Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
43. "Skyfall" - Skyfall (2012)
44. "We Belong Together" - Toy Story 3 (2010)
45. "Glory" - Selma (2014)
46. "The Streets of Philadelphia" - Philadelphia (1993)
47. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
48. "You Light Up My Life" - You Light Up My Life (1977)
49. "The Weary Kind" - Crazy Heart (2009)
50. "The Days of Wine and Roses" - The Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
51. "Up Where We Belong" - An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
52. "The Shadow of Your Heart" - The Sandpiper (1965)
53. "Take My Breath Away" - Top Gun (1986)
54. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)" - Dick Tracy (1990)
55. "Buttons and Bows" - The Paleface (1948)
56. "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" - Song of the South (1947)
57. "When You Wish Upon a Star" - Pinocchio (1940)
58. "Al otra lado del rio" - The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
59. "The Windmills of Your Mind" - The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
60. "You Must Love Me" - Evita (1996)
61. "Falling Slowly" - Once (2007)
62. "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" - Hustle & Flow (2005)
63. "Last Dance" - Thank God It's Friday (1978)
64. "Secret Love" - Calamity Jane (1953)
65. "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" - Arthur (1981)
66. "If I Didn't Have You" - Monsters Inc. (2001)
67. "When You Believe" - The Prince of Egypt (1998)
68. "Say You Say Me" - White Night (1985)
69. "Evergreen (Theme From A Star is Born)" - A Star is Born (1976)
70. "Call Me Irresponsible" - Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
71. "You'll Never Know" - Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
72. "On the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe" - Harvey Girls (1946)
73. "The Continental" - The Gay Divorcee (1934)
74. "Let the River Run" - Working Girl (1988)
75. "I Need to Wake Up" - An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
76. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
77. "Man or Muppet" - The Muppets (2011)
78. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
79. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
80. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
81. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

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