Sunday, October 9, 2016

Best Song: "Skyfall" (2012)

Scene from Skyfall
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 2012 and The Academy is celebrating its 85th year. Director Ben Affleck' Argo won Best Picture. The film was the fourth to win the category without a Best Director nomination. Producer George Clooney became the third person to win for both acting and producing Argo. Host Seth MacFarlane's Best Original Song nomination for Ted made him the first host to also be nominated in that category. Silver Linings Playbook was the 14th film to receive acting nominations in all four major categories, and the first since Reds in 1981. The film's Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence became the second-youngest winner in that category at the age of 22. Best Actor winner Daniel-Day Lewis' win for Best Actor for Lincoln made him the first three-time winner in that category. Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) became the second youngest female nominee. Amour was the fourth film nominated for Best Picture and Best Foreign Film simultaneously. At the age of 85, the film's Best Actress nominee Emmanuelle Riva became the oldest nominee in the category. The Best Supporting Actor category featured the first time that all nominees were made up of previous winners. Best Sound Editing winners Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty marked the sixth time that there has been a tie in any category. Meanwhile, Skyfall kept it classy in the Best Original Song category with a win for its titular song.

The Nominees

Song: "Before My Time"
Film: Chasing Ice
Performers: Scarlett Johansson

As much as I oppose the idea of nominating obscure songs solely to elevate documentaries, I have to admit that this is a vast improvement over An Inconvenient Truth's offering a few weeks back. I like the elegance and simplicity of what it's trying to do. There's an active sensibility to the music, but it's given restraint by a simple piano melody. Also, Scarlett Johansson has a knack for singing that one wouldn't immediately think of. As a whole, this is a good song with good production values. I just wish that there was something more to make it stand out, like a hook or breakdown in the middle. I'm not sure. It's still one of the better documentary nominated songs I've listened to.

Song: "Everybody Needs a Best Friend"
Film: Ted
Performers: Norah Jones

On one negative side, we can now admit that Seth MacFarlane is an Oscar nominee. Frankly, his directorial career has gone down hill after Ted (and I didn't like it to begin with). However, he does have a knack for one thing, which is making songs set to big orchestras that can be found in Family Guy. Thankfully, Norah Jones classes up the joint and makes it quite a bit of fun. I do admit that I like a song that has this kind of personality. I just wish that MacFarlane's other career decisions weren't as abhorrent. He has a gift for song writing. Maybe he should quit and focus specifically on that.

Song: "Pi's Lullaby"
Film: Life of Pi
Performers: Bombay Jayashri

I know that this is bringing outside forces in, but Life of Pi really deserved more awards back in 2012. It is such a wonderful film that I think will hold up. I admit that it isn't as showy as "Skyfall," but its elegant harmonies are so meditative that you could get lost in the notes. Bombay Jayashri definitely has a soothing voice that elevates the nuances and makes for something wholly beautiful. I know that I am mixed when it comes to songs like this, but I do wish that more modern nominees would calm down a bit and just enjoy the soothing nature of melody. I like this song a lot and only wish that Life of Pi showed up bigger at the Oscars.

Song: "Suddenly"
Film: Les Miserables
Performers: Hugh Jackman

It could just be that I like Les Miserables more than the average viewer. It's a film that overwhelmed me and one that I still come back to all these years later. I admit that in context, "Suddenly" has that jarring effect of being the "Oscar mandated" song. It doesn't fit with the style. Taking by itself, Hugh Jackman's passionate, tender singing does have a certain amount of value. I like it and feel like it captures the essence of what worked in Tom Hooper's adaptation. It doesn't have much else going for it, but it definitely works as a filler song for a really killer soundtrack.

The Winner

Song: "Skyfall"
Film: Skyfall
Performers: Adele

It's not a bad song. I guess there is an issue when you don't hop on the bandwagon of James Bond and Adele. I personally am impressed that I really liked "Nobody Does It Better." That was a good song full of elegance and grandiosity. "Skyfall" isn't that bad. It definitely is very well produced and has a soaring elegance. There's just something that I cannot quite connect with. Maybe it's that it drags on and feels at times self-important. I wish that there was something more. My one caveat is that I'm okay with this winning because, unlike the others, it is a legitimate ear worm that audiences know. I'm sure people will still be singing it years from now. It's what The Oscars should encourage more often. It's just that there's something vanilla about the song in terms of my personal tastes. 

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

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