Sunday, October 30, 2016

Best Song: "The Writing's On the Wall" (2015)

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 2015 and The Academy is celebrating its 88th year. Director Tom McCarthy's Spotlight won Best Picture. It was the first film since The Greatest Show on Earth to win just two Oscars. The Revenant director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu became the third person to win back-to-back Best Director statues. Creed actor Sylvester Stallone's nomination for Best Supporting Actor became the sixth person to be nominated for playing the same character in two different films. The Hateful Eight composer Ennio Morricone's Best Original Score win made him the oldest competitive Oscar winner at 87. The Revenant cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki became the first person to win three consecutive Best Cinematography awards. Meanwhile, James Bond found that "The Writing's on the Wall" for Spectre's Best Original Song win.

The Nominees

Song: "Earned It"
Film: Fifty Shades of Grey
Performers: The Weeknd

While I think my opinion's controversial enough when I say that Fifty Shades of Grey isn't a terrible film (more solid than great), I think I'll go one step further and say that this song's pretty great. It captures the eroticism of the subject matter and The Weeknd's crooning voice just seduces the listener perfectly. It may a pretty straightforward song, but I think that it's one of the best crafted and produced that I've heard over the past few years. Considering that this year continues the terrible trend of "Who is that?" nominees, it's nice to know that the movie soundtrack isn't dead. This, for lack of a better word, earned this nomination.

Song: "Manta Ray"
Film: Racing Extinction
Performers: Anohni

I will admit that there's nothing wrong with this song. I actually think that it sounds beautiful. The violin strings add an elegance that makes this all the more meditative. My issue is one that probably lead to the unfortunate cancelling of Anohni's Oscar performance. I simply think that the song is an acquired taste by which it is difficult to fully appreciate unless you like Anohni's style of singing. It's very well done and production is ethereal. It's just that there's something to the melodies that keep me from loving it. It's by no means a bad song and it promotes a great subject (though that shouldn't impact your judgment of the song at all). It's just not my favorite from this list.

Song: "Simple Song #3"
Film: Youth
Performers: Sumi Jo

I suppose that it's time to call me uncultured. Not since the 1930's nominees have I avoided having to regularly talk about genres of music that I just don't get. I understand if you like opera. It's an eclectic genre. However, I found myself more entranced by the production than the actual song. I never enjoyed the operatic, low bellowing voice that draws the center of this song. The strings are lovely and I would say that they make this composition lovely to listen to at arms' length. I just wish that I was able to admit to liking it on a more personal level. It's good and I'm glad that the Oscars are recognizing diverse genres nowadays, but again I get on a very insensitive level why this song wasn't performed. It's just not as commercial as Lady GaGa or The Weeknd. 

Song: "Til It Happens to You"
Film: The Hunting Ground
Performers: Lady GaGa

I first heard this song at the Oscars like most people. I believe that I was distracted by Lady GaGa's performance. Not that her imagery of having survivors line up behind her, but that she seemed to be passionately rocking out. There was something distracting about it that keeps me from loving it. I admit that even its status as a message song knocks some points off. However, I think that this is one of the few message songs of the past few years that comes out swinging. It makes you emotional. It makes you feel the power. It does go over the top, but it does so in awe-inspiring fashion to cover a subject that, as the song suggests, is hard to understand until it happens to you. I think Lady GaGa did a great and tender job with it, and upon reflection I am with those that believe that this should've won.

The Winner

Song: "The Writing's On the Wall"
Film: Spectre
Performers: Sam Smith

It may not be great to say, but this song winning may have been worth it for the Sam Smith story that followed where he claimed that it was one of the worst nights of his life. I admit that in general I have not been a fan of his work. He is fine, but I never gave him a second thought. That is pretty much how I come out of this song. Was it good? Probably. It just didn't have the best that an Oscar-nominated James Bond song should have. It does have nasally, girlish singing though and lyrics that read like someone's bitter about their personal relationship. That doesn't scream espionage, though why would I be concerned? I don't even watch Bond movies regularly. This song's okay, and that's about all it will ever be.

What's Next?

I am both saddened and relieved to have made it through 82 years of Best Original Song nominees and winners. I have personally learned a lot about music through this column, and I only wish that there were another 82 years to go through. With that said, this isn't the end of the column. Additional entries will be published the week after the Oscars with all of the familiar criticisms and rankings. Before then, I will say goodbye gradually with a three week retrospective that will focus on the highlights, songs that should've been nominated, and finally a more general view on the award in general. I look forward to publishing them at the regular times and hope that you have enjoyed reading this. If nothing else, I'm looking forward to compiling songs that should've been nominated. There's so many to choose from.

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. "Til It Happens to You" - The Hunting Ground (2015)
58. "Look to Your Path" - The Chorus (2004)
59. "The Hands That Built America" - Gangs of New York (2002)
60. "That Thing You Do" - That Thing You Do (1996)
61. "O... Saya" - Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
62. "Walk on the Wild Side" - Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
63. "Almost in Your Arms (Love Song from Houseboat)" - Houseboat (1958)
64. "Build Me a Kiss to Dream On" - The Strip (1951)
65. "Separate Lives" - White Night (1985)
66. "Star!" - Star! (1968)
67. "Two Hearts" - Buster (1988)
68. "Real in Rio" - Rio (2011)
69. "Wilhemina" - Wabash Avenue (1950)
70. "Travellin' Thru" - Transamerica (2005)
71. "Vanilla Sky" - Vanilla Sky (2001)
72. "Through a Long and Sleepless Night" - Come to the Stable (1949)
73. "Waltzing in the Clouds" - Spring Parade (1940)
74. "Endless Love" - Endless Love (1981)
75. "Strange Are the Ways of Love" - The Young Land (1959)
76. "Ole Buttermilk Sky" - Canyon Passage (1946)
77. "Julie" - Julie (1956)
78. "Dust" - Under Western Stars (1938)
79. "The Woody Woodpecker Song" - Wet Blanket Policy (1948)
80. "I Poured My Heart Into a Song" - Second Fiddle (1939)
81. "Remember Me" - Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)
82. "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. "The Writing's On the Wall" - Spectre (2015)
76. "I Need to Wake Up" - An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
77. "The Lullaby of Broadway" - Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
78. "Man or Muppet" - The Muppets (2011)
79. "Flashdance... What a Feeling" - Flashdance (1983)
80. "We May Never Love Like This Again" - The Towering Inferno (1974)
81. "Sweet Leiulani" - Waikiki Wedding (1937)
82. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - The Woman in Red (1984)

1 comment:

  1. If only "Feels Like Summer" from Shaun The Sheep was nominated.
    Worst snub of the awards season for me. >_<