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Best Original Song: A Categorical History (1934-1940)

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while. Once I got done with all the Oscar Quest categories, I said to myself, “What other categories can I write up that would be fun?” And most of them wouldn’t be terribly interesting. Who really wants to hear me talk in depth about Best Sound? This one seemed like an obvious one because — we can all do it so easily.

All you really need to do to put forth an opinion on the Best Original Song category is listen to all the songs. Pretty simple. The hard part’s just finding them. Which I did. Though I’m linking to so many Youtube videos I can only do a couple of years at a time. Five, in fact. Otherwise it gets crazy and the pages take forever to load.

So that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll go through every year of Best Original Song, I’ll link to as many songs as I can find, and I’ll tell what I like and what I’d have voted for. And we’ll get to go over the rich history that is original songs in movies.

I’ll point out that the category only began in 1934, so, we’ll start from there and go up to 1940 and then go five years at a time. I’m also structuring it in the order of — WINNER first, in ALL CAPS, then the other nominees. Then I’ll talk about the category, what I like and such, then vote, then rank the songs. Just because that’s what I’ve done. Really, it’s about listening to good music.

(Note: The only original clip / actual version of the song from the movie that I couldn’t find was “Did I Remember,” which literally got taken down today, as this article was going up. And I think “Love of My Life” is a later recording. Other than that, I think I got actual recordings/clips for everything, and nothing’s missing. So that’s good. That’s a good start.)

1934: “THE CONTINENTAL,” FROM THE GAY DIVORCEE

“Carioca,” from Flying Down to Rio

“Love in Bloom,” from She Loves Me Not

Analysis: Being that this is the first category — I feel like I have to go with Fred and Ginger. That’s what original music is all about. I’m talking about “The Continental,” not “Carioca.” I’m sure most of it has to do with the dancing and not the song — but I don’t care. It’s like Walter Brennan winning the first ever Best Supporting Actor — the performance isn’t amazing, but it’s Walter Brennan. He epitomizes the category. And so do the songs from Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films. Don’t believe me? Wait until we get to the years after this.

My Vote: “The Continental”

Rankings:

3. “Carioca”

2. “Love in Bloom”

1. “The Continental”

1935: “LULLABY OF BROADWAY,” FROM GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935

“Lovely to Look at,” from Roberta

“Cheek to Cheek,” from Top Hat

Analysis: I like that we get the bonus Busby Berkeley number in the video. Still doesn’t change the fact that “Cheek to Cheek” really should have won here. That’s one of the great songs for all time. Big mistake, here. (P.S. I really don’t like Irene Dunne’s singing voice.)

My Vote: “Cheek to Cheek”

Rankings:

3. “Lovely to Look At”

2. “Lullaby of Broadway”

1. “Cheek to Cheek”

1936: “THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT,” FROM SWING TIME

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” from Born to Dance

“Pennies from Heaven,” from Pennies from Heaven

(Though, personally, I really like this version, that they used in The Artist.

“When Did You Leave Heaven,” from Sing, Baby, Sing

“Did I Remember,” from Suzy

“A Melody from the Sky,” from Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Analysis: “The Way You Look Tonight” is so amazing. What a beautiful, beautiful song. It wins this, hands down. “Pennies from Heaven” is another one. What a great pair of songs.

“Did I Remember” and “A Melody from the Sky” are also really solid songs.

(P.S. Swing Time also featured “A Fine Romance,” which is another great, great song.)

My Vote: “The Way You Look Tonight”

Rankings:

6. “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”

5. “When Did You Leave Heaven”

4. “Did I Remember”

3. “A Melody from the Sky”

2. “Pennies from Heaven”

1. “The Way You Look Tonight”

1937: “SWEET LEILANI,” FROM WAIKIKI WEDDING

“Whispers in the Dark,” from Artists and Models

“Remember Me,” from Mr. Dodd Takes the Air

“They Can’t Take That Away from Me,” from Shall We Dance

“That Old Feeling,” from Vogues of 1938

Analysis: I would just like to point out that “They All Laughed” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” — not nominated. Two songs that win this category by themselves — not nominated.

Just getting that out of the way. If I didn’t respect the Oscars as much as I do, I’d vote for those songs anyway. (Sadly, write-ins only happened in 1934 and 1935.)

“Whispers in the Dark” and “That Old Feeling” are also good ones from this category.

Still — I’m taking “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” It’s just as good as voting for the songs that should have been here.

My Vote: “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”

Rankings:

5. “Sweet Leilani”

4. “Remember Me”

3. “That Old Feeling”

2. “Whispers in the Dark”

1. “They Can’t Take That Away from Me”

1938: “THANKS FOR THE MEMORY,” FROM THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938

“Always and Always,” from Mannequin

“Change Partners,” from Carefree

“The Cowboy and the Lady,” from The Cowboy and the Lady

“Dust,” from Under Western Stars

“Jeepers Creepers,” from Going Places

(P.S. If you want the actual film clip — here it is.

“Merrily We Live,” from Merrily We Live

“A Mist over the Moon,” from The Lady Objects

“My Own,” from That Certain Age

“Now It Can Be Told,” from Alexander’s Ragtime Band

Analysis: Why can’t they write songs like this anymore? Every single Astaire/Rogers movie had these great songs in them. But, you know what? This is the weakest Astaire/Rogers film (where they’re the stars, so, post-Gay Divorcee), and is the only time I’m not voting for them. “Thanks for the Memory” is too good a song to not vote for. “Change Partners” is great, though.

“Jeepers Creepers” is obviously a great song. I also like “Always and Always.”

My Vote: “Thanks for the Memory”

Rankings:

10. “The Cowboy and the Lady”

9. “Dust”

8. “A Mist over the Moon”

7. “Merrily We Live”

6. “Now It Can Be Told”

5. “My Own”

4. “Always and Always”

3. “Jeepers Creepers”

2. “Change Partners”

1. “Thanks for the Memory”

1939: “OVER THE RAINBOW,” FROM THE WIZARD OF OZ

“Faithful Forever,” from Gulliver’s Travels

“I Poured My Heart into a Song,” from Second Fiddle

“Wishing,” from Love Affair

Analysis: Do I need to say anything here?

My Vote: “Over the Rainbow”

Rankings:

4. “Faithful Forever”

3. “I Poured My Heart into a Song”

2. “Wishing”

1. “Over the Rainbow”

1940: “WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR,” FROM PINOCCHIO

“Down Argentine Way,” from Down Argentine Way

“I’d Know You Anywhere,” from You’ll Find Out

“It’s a Blue World,” from Music in My Heart

“Love of My Life,” from Second Chorus

“Only Forever,” from Rhythm on the River

“Our Love Affair,” from Strike Up the Band

“Waltzing in the Clouds,” from Spring Parade

“Who Am I?,” from Hit Parade of 1941

Analysis: Again, do I need to say anything here?

My Vote: “When you Wish Upon a Star”

Rankings:

9. “Down Argentine Way”

8. “Waltzing in the Clouds”

7. “It’s a Blue World”

6. “Our Love Affair”

5. “Only Forever”

4. “Who Am I?”

3. “I’d Know You Anywhere”

2. “Love of My Life”

1. “When You Wish Upon a Star”

– – – – – – – – – –

So that’s part one. Isn’t it great that we get to see which songs were nominated here? I love this so much. I’m very excited for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is 1941-1945.

http://bplusmovieblog.com

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2 responses

  1. Michael

    I really like this idea. I think it might be cool if you talk about (more like just mention) any songs that weren’t nominated that you could think of off the top of your head. Some examples by year:
    1934: “On the Good Ship Lollipop” from Bright Eyes sung by Shirley Temple
    1935: “Animal Crackers in My Soup” from Curly Top sung by Shirley Temple
    and even possibly “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails” from Top Hat sung by Astaire
    1936: “A Fine Romance”
    1937: “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and “They All Laughed” as well as “Whistle While You Work” and maybe “Some Day My Prince Will Come” or “Heigh-Ho” all obviously from Snow White
    1938: nothing
    1939: “Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead” from The Wizard of Oz and “Good Morning” from Babes in Arms
    1940: nothing

    July 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    • I was gonna do that, but when I was writing the article, I was so deep in trying to find all the songs on Youtube that I couldn’t think of anything off the top of my head. Though I’m sure I mentioned some songs. I know I mentioned the Shall We Dance songs up there. I also scheduled these back in April and haven’t gone back to look at them other than to check up on the links. And I’m already working on stuff that’s going up over the next three months, so I doubt I’ll ever get to anything like that.

      But it’s probably for the best, since I’m not one to speculate on stuff anyway. I mostly use what wasn’t nominated to complain about the category. I don’t like looking at alternatives just because the category is the category. It gets us nowhere to think about what would have happened if something else were there. That’s why I just like using it for complaints. Like, “This piece of shit wins and (something else) wasn’t nominated?!” Or just, “…and where the hell is (this) in these nominees?”

      If I remember correctly, these articles descend into me being absolutely disgusted with the Academy and their nominations process, so I doubt thinking up alternatives was ever going to happen anyway.

      July 6, 2012 at 11:20 pm

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