2011 Oscars Update: Best Original Song

I love this category. It’s so fucked up.

The best thing about the Best Original Song category is how badly the Academy is in voting for it. This year, we’re going to catch it in the early stages. Just like cancer. Ideally.

The Academy has just announced 39 songs that have been shortlisted for Best Original Song. Very soon, the music branch of the Academy — those fuckers — will get together, listen to all these songs, along with accompanying clips. Clips from the film — kind of like when people make those shitty youtube videos. Then what they do is vote on the songs. The voting goes from 6-10, with half-star increments. Don’t ask why, that’s just how it works.

A song is required to have an average of 8.25 in order to be nominated. The highest 5 (if five songs get above 8.25) are nominated. If no songs receive an 8.25, there is no Best Original Song category that year. If only one receives an 8.25 average, then that one song, and the song that gets the second highest average, will be nominated. If two songs get it, they’re in. And I believe there’s some kind of tie scenario that leads to a revote. It’s fucked up, right? This explains how such terrible choices can get in year after year and the really good stuff routinely gets left off.

So what we’re going to do — right now, in fact — is listen to all 39 songs, I’m gonna link to whatever clips I can find, and then I’m gonna vote, and leave it up to you to vote for yourself, and then by the end of the article, we’re gonna see if we can narrow down a random sampling of people’s choices for songs. In fact, fuck it — if enough people stumbling upon this article really want to vote, throw some votes in. I’ll average it out and do it just like the Academy does it. And maybe we’ll see just how out of touch they are.

Personally, I just think it’s one of those situations where — they started having fun, they’re like the white people who give in and start dancing, they gave an Oscar to Three Six Mafia, and then everyone was like, “What the fuck?”, and they got all self-conscious and felt really aware of themselves, and then got really conservative in ways that could only happen when someone takes a nipple out on live television (Walter Cronkite). That can only explain just how bad they’ve been over the past few years in nominating songs.

Either way, let’s listen to all 39 songs, and see which ones actually should be nominated:

(P.S. I love how subjective this whole thing is. There is an Academy Award category solely dedicated to comparing music tastes.)

Also, remember — voting: 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10. This is what I know to be the voting system for the Academy, so this is the system I’m using.

  • “The World I Knew,” from African Cats

Everything about this song is hilarious to me. From the choice of singer, to the video itself, to the film its for.

It’s like The Lion King with Tinker Bell in it. Also, what’s with all the enunciating here? Am I right?

I guess… 6.5? They’d never nominate this anyway? Right?

I — re — ally — ho — pe — not. That would really suck — ve — ry — much.

  • “Lay Your Head Down,” from Albert Nobbs

Oh fuck yeah — Sinead O’Connor singing, and co-written by Glenn Close? This definitely gets on. This is their chance to nominate Glenn Close for two Oscars. They’re totally gonna take this. They can get Sinead to sing it at the ceremony, and maybe get that interpretive dance team to do their shit in the background again.

My vote? Uhh… 7. Maybe 7.5. It’s early. Maybe I’ll warm up to this song by the time I hear the rest of them.

I can totally see them nominating this, though.

  • “Star Spangled Man,” from Captain America: The First Avenger

Do I even need to say anything here? This will never make it on in a million years.

It’s also not that good a song. This is a 6 for me. Just — no. This is like when “Stu’s Song” from The Hangover was on the shortlist for a nomination. It’s like — really?

  • “Collision of Worlds,” from Cars 2

Yeah, you just know this’ll get on. They love this bullshit.

My vote is 7. This is way too country for me. Also, Robbie Williams — he is British, isn’t he?

I know it will get on, but I hope it doesn’t. This is going to be one of those songs where they vote it on, and you’re like, “What the fuck kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?”

  • “Dakkanaga Dugu Dugu,” from DAM999
  • “DAM999 Theme Song,” from DAM999
  • “Mujhe Chod Ke,” from DAM999

Yeah, I don’t know what this movie is, either. It’s Bollywood. These will never get nominated. “Jai Ho” was the closest they were gonna get.

  • “Rainbird,” from Dirty Girl

Uh huh. This is a far cry from the tone of that trailer I saw for this. Not a bad song, though.

7.5? Sure. Why not? I’d have considered an 8, but the clips of that lady singing scared me.

  • “Keep On Walking,” from The First Grader

Couldn’t find out anything about this song, let alone a clip. Seems too obscure to get in. Maybe, since they like shit like this, but I’d need to hear it to know for sure.

  • “Where the River Goes,” from Footloose

Not a bad song, but not one that should be nominated.

7.5. But seriously, this shouldn’t get on.

Far cry from the original Footloose.

  • “Hello Hello,” from Gnomeo and Juliet

Written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin, and Lada Gaga sings on it.

If there ever was a perfect storm of a song, this is it. (You knew the Globes were gonna go apeshit over this.)

It’s not a bad song. Not a particularly memorable one, but, good. 8. But I gotta tell you — the version with just Elton on it is much better.

I know they’re gonna be hard pressed to resist the urge to have Gaga there on the red carpet and performing this song. There’s no way they pass that up. There just isn’t. I think we should pencil this one in right the fuck now.

  • “Love Builds a Garden,” from Gnomeo and Juliet

I really thought this was going to end up being a much better song than the other one. That’s usually what happens. The Academy is forced to choose between the really obvious, mainstream choice, or the slower, better song that might not go over as well at the actual ceremony. But no — this is just okay.

7.5. They should just pick the other one. Neither will win, but at least the other one provides interest with Gaga. This is nice, but, I don’t think they’ll vote for it. Unless they go both, but that seems improbable.

  • “Bridge of Light,” from Happy Feet Two

Oh man, we got Pink up in here too.

I just assume 75% of the songs nominated in this category will be from animated films. Which is tough, since there are several animated films with songs.

This one isn’t that bad at all. Also, this sounds more like a song Elton would write than the Elton songs. Strange.

I actually do like this better than the Elton song. Maybe I’ll go 8.5 here. Maybe not. I guess I have to vote something high somewhere. Let’s start here. This is definitely the song I’ve liked best so far. That’s not to say my feelings for it will cool, but — what the hell?

  • “The Mighty Sven,” from Happy Feet Two

Nope. Telling you right now, before I even listen to it — never gonna happen.

Oh, I remember this song — it wasn’t bad.

Still, not gonna happen. 7, though. It’s not bad, just — no nomination.

  • “Never Be Daunted,” from HappyThankYouMorePlease

Nope. Won’t get nominated. Tell you right now. It’s just too indie of a song. Every song written for an indie movie sounds like this. Acoustic, soulful. And they’re all just good enough to make you go, “But it’s not that bad.”

7. I’ve heard way too many of these in my time.

  • “Hell and Back,” from Hell and Back Again

You know where I know J. Ralph from? He did the music for Lucky Number Slevin and wrote the “Kansas City Shuffle” song. I’m not proud of knowing this, I’m just saying — that’s where I know him from.

Classier people will know him as the dude who wrote the music for Man on Wire.

This song isn’t bad, but — too on the nose. At least for a nomination. At the end of a documentary, it works.

7. But no nomination.

  • “The Living Proof,” from The Help

Just seeing the film there I’m telling you this will be nominated.

The Academy just eats this shit up. The soulful song about black people rising above.

There’s gonna be a Gospel choir by the end of this, isn’t there?

I don’t really like this that much. It just seems like an obvious choice. Which means it’ll get on, but — really?

7. I’m already resigned to the fact that it gets on. Just like I’m resigned to the fact that this gets nominated for Best Picture. (I’m just… disappointed.)

Oh, hey, look at that — no choir. That’s nice.

If there’s a Gospel choir at the ceremony, I’m calling racism.

Just because it’s a song about black people does not automatically mean it requires a Gospel choir.

  • “Coeur Volant,” from Hugo

This song is fucking magical.

Stick with it — they start singing by the minute-45 mark. I love these French-style songs. Plus it highlights the score of Hugo, which is awesome.

Not sure if it’ll get on, because it’s all in French, but I loved it. So that’s something.

9.

  • “It’s How We Play,” from I Don’t Know How She Does It

A song from a Sarah Jessica Parker movie is shortlisted for an Oscar.

Pause for that to sink in.

I don’t know which song it is in that video — and I don’t care. It won’t get in.

6.

  • “When the Heart Dies,” from In the Land of Blood and Honey

No clips online for this one. Could get on based on the subject matter. They love this shit. I’d have to hear it to be sure.

  • “Ja Nao Estar” from José and Pilar

No idea what this is. Let’s assume it won’t get on until it does. Mmmkay?

  • “The Keeper,” from Machine Gun Preacher

This will never get nominated. You know how I know that? They didn’t nominate him for his Bond song! Seriously, Academy. You guys suck.

But, this song — pretty good.

7.5. Don’t think it’ll get nominated. Maybe, but I doubt it. They have quite the aversion to rock stars. Lady Gaga is okay, because it’s for children, but rock stars? No way.

(My favorite part of that is when they say, “We don’t like Bruce Springsteen. He’s a rock star. We don’t want to nominate him for “The Wrestler.” And they conveniently forget the fact that BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ALREADY HAS AN OSCAR! He won for “Streets of Philadelphia.” Hypocrisy is so funny.)

  • “Life’s a Happy Song,” from The Muppets

There’s your fucking nominee! There better be two songs from this movie that are nominated. This one, and the one two songs below this.

How does this song automatically not become the favorite to win?

9.5. Love this.

  • “Man or Muppet,” from “The Muppets”

I like this song, but I’m a realist, and I don’t see three songs from this film getting nominated. This is clearly the weakest of the three.

8. It works in the context of the film, but it would just be weird to see this being performed at the ceremony. At least “Life’s a Happy Song” is universal — and that’s what it takes to win this category. I seriously think that’s the one that’s gonna win.

  • “Pictures in My Head,” from The Muppets

This was them going for “The Rainbow Connection.” I’m cool with that. I liked this song a lot. This had me bawling when they did it in the film.

They might not actually nominate this, just because it’s so contextual. You have to understand what’s going on in the film in order to understand the lyrics.

But nominating this allows them to have all the Muppets perform this. How do you not do that? Come on, Academy.

9.

  • “Summer Song,” from The Music Never Stopped

Uhh… all right.

6.5. Never gonna happen.

  • “Imaginary Friends,” from Olive

No idea what the film or the song is. So let’s just assume that means it’ll never happen.

  • “Sparkling Day,” from One Day

Elvis Costello? That’s — interesting.

6. I really didn’t like this song at all. (Or the film, really.)

  • “Taking You with Me,” from Our Idiot Brother

I actually really liked this one.

8.

It’ll never get nominated, but I liked it a lot compared to most of these other ones.

  • “The Greatest Song I Ever Heard,” from POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

6.5.

This will never get nominated. I almost want them to, just to see what OK Go can do with an Oscar performance. But even if they do get nominated (which will take a miracle), you know they won’t let them do the kind of shit they do in their videos at the Oscars.

So, in order to lament that, let’s look at a few of their awesome videos:

That last one is just brilliant. All of them are brilliant. Didn’t that make you feel better about the shit the Academy is probably going to nominate?

  • “Hot Wings,” from Rio

Oh dear god, please don’t nominate will.i.am for an Oscar.

The Academy is usually good at not nominating people like this, but you never know.

This song is fucking terrible.

6.

  • “Let Me Take You to Rio,” from Rio

The good thing about the Academy being as terrible as they are at judging songs is that you know they’d never nominate shit like this. So I don’t have to worry about it so much.

6. Just, awful.

  • “Real in Rio,” from Rio

Wait, so this means this movie won’t be getting nominated in this category? Can this be?

If any song is getting in from this movie, it’s this one — and that’s saying something.

6.

  • “Shelter,” from Take Shelter

That guy’s voice is way too weird for this to get nominated.

Honestly, if the Academy can vote the way they do, I feel my criteria make just as much sense.

6.5. I thought this would be better than it was.

  • “Gathering Stories,” from We Bought a Zoo

Oh, they love this shit. They fucking shower in songs like this. I fully expect this to make it on.

In theory.

Now that I hear more of the song than the first twenty seconds — I actually think this won’t make it on. Way too modern for them. No way they vote for this. Maybe they do — there’s still that outside chance — but I say no.

7.

  • “Pop,” from White Irish Drinkers

Ha ha ha.

7.5. Very Irish. No way this ever gets voted on. But this was quite fun to listen to, the once.

  • “Think You Can Wait,” from Win Win

An official video — that means they’re campaigning. Which means this could actually get on.

I don’t see this getting on, but the campaigning means it has a chance.

6.5.

  • “The Backson Song,” from Winnie the Pooh

8.5. This particular song won’t get nominated, but if this clip does anything, it should show everyone just how gorgeously this film was animated, and just how much it should be nominated for Best Animated Feature. Also, it’s only 70 minutes long, so everyone should see it. It’s so magical.

  • “So Long,” from Winnie the Pooh

Cute song. 8.5.

Not sure if it’ll get nominated, but I like it a lot. So that’s something. It would be nice to see Zooey singing this at the Oscars.

– – – – – – – – – –

All right. That’s all 39 songs.

Of all 39 of them, here are the ones most likely to be nominated. Anything outside of these, I feel, would be one of those Paris 36-type random ass surprises the music branch likes to throw at us.

  • “Lay Your Head Down,” from Albert Nobbs
  • “Collision of Worlds,” from Cars 2
  • “Hello Hello,” from Gnomeo and Juliet
  • “Love Builds a Garden,” from Gnomeo and Juliet
  • “Bridge of Light,” from Happy Feet Two
  • “The Living Proof,” from The Help
  • “Coeur Volant, from Hugo
  • “When the Heart Dies,” from The Land of Blood and Honey
  • “The Keeper,” from Machine Gun Preacher
  • “Life’s a Happy Song,” from The Muppets
  • “Pictures in My Head,” from The Muppets
  • “Gathering Stories,” from We Bought a Zoo
  • “Think You Can Wait,” from Win Win
  • “So Long,” from Winnie the Pooh

I also really loved “Taking You with Me,” from Our Idiot Brother. I know it’ll never happened, but I thought the song was great. I’d like to say it has a chance, but, against that competition? No way.

Everything else, as I said, would be a huge shock. Especially considering the talent they have here.

Now, if I were nominating stuff, based on my own personal preferences, here’s what my list would look like:

  • “Coeur Volant,” from Hugo
  • “Life’s a Happy Song,” from The Muppets
  • “Pictures in My Head,” from The Muppets
  • “Taking You with Me,” from Our Idiot Brother
  • “So Long,” from Winnie the Pooh

Those were my favorite songs. If I were trying to make it more Academy-friendly as in, performances, I’d consider swapping out the Our Idiot Brother song with either Gaga and Elton or the Pink song from Happy Feet.

In terms of what’s gonna get nominated…

I’d say “Life’s a Happy Song” is your favorite to win at the moment.

“The Living Proof” is almost a shoe-in to get nominated.

So is “Lay Your Head Down.”

There’s no telling how many nominees they’re gonna have. Last year they had 4. So, if we’re going by the standard 5 nominee category (which there totally should be. There’s enough here to fill 5), I’d say the songs with the best shots to fill out those last two spots are: “Pictures in My Head,” “Hello Hello”/”Love Builds a Garden,” “Bridge of Light,” maybe “Coeur Volant,” if they really love Hugo, “So Long,” and also the Land of Blood and Honey and Win Win songs carry weight just because of the films and the topics. More so Blood and Honey. I just have a weird feeling about that one. And that’s without even having heard the damn song. I’m just watching out for it. Because if it gets nominated, then I can be like, “See?!”

That’s where we’re at with this category. It actually looks pretty good, based on the shortlist.

Then again, they’ve been known to nominate really bad songs. See: 2010, 2009 (outside “The Weary Kind”), 2006, 2004, 2003 (outside of “Into the West” and “Kiss a the End of the Rainbow”)… you get the point.

The real point here was — look at all the stuff they can nominate, and watch and see what they actually end up doing.

Though I think we can all agree that “Life’s a Happy Song” should have this category all sewn up.

Right? (I mean, last year the song that won was basically four minutes of Randy Newman saying “We Belong Together” over and over again.)

3 responses

  1. BlueFox94

    I will be reading this article several times over the next two weeks, it is SO GOOD!!!

    Merry Christmas!!

    December 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    • I have to say — of all the hundred some odd comments I’ve gotten, that might be the first that said, “That was a good post.” Thanks for that. (I also feel weird getting praise for something I literally threw together in like, 30 minutes. Whatever. I’ll take it.)

      December 20, 2011 at 6:56 pm

  2. Fred S

    Curious why you’d say the Shillaly Brothers’ “Pop” was “quite fun to listen to,” then “no way this ever gets voted on?” I thought the category was “Best Original Song.”

    January 5, 2012 at 9:12 am

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