Oscars 2015 Category Breakdown: Best Original Song

Every year before the Oscars I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category, how it works, what its history is, how it usually turns out, and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

How these work is — I go over each category’s history, give you all the previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees. And then I’ll go over how each of the guilds (if there is a corresponding guild) have went, and how that corresponds to the Oscars (some guilds mean a lot to how a category will play out. Others mean nothing). It’s basically everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision when you make your picks on Oscar night. And then I also rank the nominees at the end in terms of where I see them in terms of their likelihood to win.

Today is Best Original Song. A category previously won by Eminem, Three 6 Mafia, and Rogers & Hammerstein.

Year Best Original Song Winners Other Nominees
1934 “The Contnental,” The Gay Divorcee “Carioca,” Flying Down to Rio

“Love in Bloom,” She Loves Me Not

1935 “Lullaby of Broadway,” Gold Diggers of 1935 “Lovely to Look at,” Roberta

“Cheek to Cheek,” Top Hat

1936 “The Way You Look Tonight,” Swing Time “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Born to Dance

“Pennies from Heaven,” Pennies from Heaven

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

“Did I Remember,” Suzy

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

1937 “Sweet Leilani,” Waikiki Wedding “Whispers in the Dark,” Artists and Models

“Remember Me,” Mr. Dodd Takes the Air

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

“That Old Feeling,” Vogues of 1938

1938 “Thanks for the Memory,” The Big Broadcast of 1938 “Always and Always,” Mannequin

“Change Partners,” Carefree

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

“Dust,” Under Western Stars

“Jeepers Creepers,” Going Places

“Merrily We Live,” Merrily We Live

“A Mist over the Moon,” The Lady Objects

“My Own,” That Certain Age

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

1939 “Over the Rainbow,” The Wizard of Oz “Faithful Forever,” Gulliver’s Travels

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

“Wishing,” Love Affair

1940 “When You Wish Upon a Star,” Pinocchio “Down Argentine Way,” Down Argentine Way

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

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

“Love of My Life,” Second Chorus

“Only Forever,” Rhythm on the River

“Our Love Affair,” Strike Up the Band

“Waltzing in the Clouds,” Spring Parade

“Who Am I?,” Hit Parade of 1941

1941 “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” Lady Be Good “Baby Mine,” Dumbo

“Be Honest With Me,” Ridin’ on the Rainbow

“Blues in the Night,” Blues in the Night

“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B,”Buck Privates

“Chattanooga Choo Choo” Sun Valley Serenade

“Dolores,” Las Vegas Nights

“Out of the Silence,” All-American Co-Ed

“Since I Kissed My Baby Goodbye,” You’ll Never Get Rich

1942 “White Christmas,” Holiday Inn “Always in My Heart,” Always in My Heart

“Dearly Beloved,” You Were Never Lovelier

“How About You?”, Babes on Broadway

“I’ve Heard That Song Before,” Youth on Parade

“I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo,” Orchestra Wives

“Love Is a Song,” Bambi

“Pennies for Peppino,” Flying with Music

“Pig Foot Pete,” Hellzapoppin’

“There’s a Breeze on Lake Louise,” The Mayor of 44th Street

1943 “You’ll Never Know,” Hello, Frisco, Hello “Change of Heart,” Hit Parade of 1943

“Happiness is a Thing Called Joe,” Cabin in the Sky

“My Shining Hour,” The Sky’s the Limit

“Saludos Amigos,” Saludos Amigos

“Say a Prayer for the Boys Over There,”Hers to Hold

“That Old Black Magic,” Star Spangled Rhythm

“They’re Either Too Young or too Old,”Thank Your Lucky Stars

“We Mustn’t Say Good Bye,” Stage Door Canteen

“You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,”Something to Shout About

1944 “Swinging on a Star,” Going My Way “I Couldn’t Sleep a Wink Last Night,”Higher and Higher

“I’ll Walk Alone,” Follow the Boys

“I’m Making Believe,” Sweet and Low-Down

“Long Ago (and Far Away),” Cover Girl

“Now I Know,” Up in Arms

“Remember Me to Carolina,” Minstrel Man

“Rio de Janeiro,” Brazil

“Silver Shadows and Golden Dreams,” Lady, Let’s Dance

“Too Much in Love,” Song of the Open Road

“The Trolley Song,” Meet Me in St. Louis

1945 “It Might as Well Be Spring,” State Fair “Accentuate the Positive,” Here Come the Waves

“Anywhere,” Tonight and Any Night

“The Cat and the Canary,” Why Girls Leave Home

“Endlessly,” Earl Carroll Vanities

“I Fall In Love Too Easily,” Anchors Aweigh

“I’ll Buy That Dream,” Sing Your Way Home

“Linda,” The Story of G.I. Joe

“Love Letters,” Love Letters

“More and More,” Can’t Help Singing

“Sleighride in July,” Belle of the Yukon

“So in Love,” Wonder Man

“Some Sunday Morning,” San Antonio

1946 “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,”The Harvey Girls “All Through the Day,” Centennial Summer

“I Can’t Begin to Tell You,” The Dolly Sisters

“Ole Buttermilk Sky,” Canyon Passage

“You Keep Coming Back Like a Song,” Blue Skies

1947 “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” Song of the South “A Gal in Calico,” The Time, the Place and the Girl

“I Wish I Didn’t Love You So,” The Perils of Pauline

“Pass That Peace Pipe,” Good News

“You Do,” Mother Wore Tights

1948 “Buttons and Bows,” The Paleface “For Every Man There’s a Woman,” Casbah

“It’s Magic,” Romance on the High Seas

“This Is the Moment,” That Lady in Ermine

“The Woody Woodpecker Song,” Wet Blanket Policy

1949 “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” Neptune’s Daughter “It’s a Great Feeling,” It’s a Great Feeling

“Lavender Blue,” So Dear to My Heart

“My Foolish Heart,” My Foolish Heart

“Through a Long and Sleepless Night,”Come to the Stable

1950 “Mona Lisa,” Captain Carey, U.S.A. “Be My Love,” The Toast of New Orleans

“Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo,” Cinderella

“Mule Train,” Singing Guns

“Wilhelmina,” Wabash Avenue

1951 “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,”Here Comes the Groom “Never,” Golden Girl

“Wonder Why,” Rich, Young and Pretty

“Too Late Now,” Royal Wedding

“A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” The Strip

1952 “High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’), High Noon “Am I in Love,” Son of Paleface

“Because You’re Mine,” Because You’re Mine

“Thumbelina,” Hans Christian Andersen

“Zing a Little Zong,” Just for You

1953 “Secret Love,” Calamity Jane “The Moon is Blue,” The Moon is Blue

“My Flaming Heart,” Small Town Girl

“Sadie Thompson’s Song (Blue Pacific Blues),” Miss Sadie Thompson

“That’s Amore,” The Caddy

1954 “Three Coins in the Fountain,” Three Coins in the Fountain “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep,”White Christmas

“The High and the Mighty,” The High and the Mighty

“Holy My Hand,” Susan Slept Here

“The Man that Got Away, “A Star is Born

1955 “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” Love is a Many-Splendored Thing “I’ll Never Stop Loving You, Love Me or Leave Me

“Something’s Gotta Give,” Daddy Long Legs

“(Love Is) The Tender Trap,” The Tender Trap

“Unchained Melody,” Unchained

1956 “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Qué Será, Será),”The Man Who Knew Too Much “Friendly Persuasion,” Friendly Persuasion

“Julie,” Julie

“True Love,” High Society

“Written on the Wind,” Written on the Wind

1957 “All the Way,” The Joker is Wild “An Affair to Remember,” An Affair to Remember

“April Love,” April Love

“Tammy,” Tammy and the Bachelor

“Wild Is the Wind,” Wild Is the Wind

1958 “Gigi,” Gigi “Almost in Your Arms (Love Song fromHouseboat),” Houseboat

“A Certain Smile,” A Certain Smile

“To Love and Be Loved,” Some Came Running

“A Very Precious Love,” Marjorie Morningstar

1959 “High Hopes,” A Hole in the Head “The Best of Everything,” The Best of Everything

“The Five Pennies,” The Five Pennies

“The Hanging Tree,” The Hanging Tree

“Strange Are the Ways of Love,” The Young Land

1960 “Never on Sunday,” Never on Sunday “The Facts of Life,” The Facts of Life

“Faraway Part of Town,” Pepe

“The Green Leaves of Summer,” The Alamo

“The Second Time Around,” High Time

1961 “Moon River,” Breakfast at Tiffany’s “Bachelor in Paradise,” Bachelor in Paradise

“Love Theme from El Cid (The Falcon and the Dove),” El Cid

“Pocketful of Miracles,” Pocketful of Miracles

“Town Without Pity,” Town Without Pity

1962 “Days of Wine and Roses,” Days of Wine and Roses “Love Song from Mutiny on the Bounty (Follow Me),” Mutiny on the Bounty

“Song from Two for the Seesaw (Second Chance),“ Two for the Seesaw

“Walk on the Wild Side,” Walk on the Wild Side

1963 “Call Me Irresponsible,” Papa’s Delicate Condition “Charade,” Charade

“It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

“More,” Mondo Cane

“So Little Time,” 55 Days at Peking

1964 “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” Mary Poppins “Dear Heart,” Dear Heart

“Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte

“My Kind of Town,” Robin and the 7 Hoods

“Where Love has Gone,” Where Love Has Gone

1965 “The Shadow of Your Smile,” The Sandpiper “The Ballad of Cat Ballou,” Cat Ballou

“I Will Wait for You,” The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

“The Sweetheart Tree,” The Great Race

“What’s New Pussycat?,” What’s New Pussycat?

1966 “Born Free,” Born Free “Alfie,” Alfie

“Georgy Girl,” Georgy Girl

“My Wishing Doll,” Hawaii

“A Time for Love,” An American Dream

1967 “Talk to the Animals,” Doctor Dolittle “The Bare Necessessities,” The Jungle Book

“The Eyes of Love,” Banning

“The Look of Love,” Casino Royale

“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” Thoroughly Modern Millie

1968 “Windmills of Your Mind,” The Thomas Crown Affair “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

“For Love of Ivy,” For Love of Ivy

“Funny Girl,” Funny Girl

“Star!,” Star!

1969 “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid “Come Saturday Morning,” The Sterile Cuckoo

“Jean,” The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

“True Grit,” True Grit

“What Are You Doing for the Rest of Your Life?, The Happy Ending

1970 “For All We Know,” Lovers and Other Strangers “Whistling Away the Dark,“ Darling Lili

“Till Love Touches Your Life,” Madron

“Pieces of Dreams,” Pieces of Dreams

“Thank You Very Much,” Scrooge

1971 “Theme from Shaft,” Shaft “The Age of Not Believing,” Bedknobs and Broomsticks

“Bless the Beasts and Children,” Bless the Beasts and Children

“Life Is What You Make It,” Kotch

“All His Children,” Sometimes a Great Notion

1972 “The Morning After,” The Poseidon Adventure “Ben,” Ben

“Marmalade, Molasses & Honey,” The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean

“Come Follow, Follow Me,” The Little Ark

“Strange Are the Ways of Love,” The Stepmother

1973 “The Way We Were,” The Way We Were “(You’re So) Nice to Be Around,” Cinderella Liberty

“Live and Let Die,” Live and Let Die

“Love,” Robin Hood

“All That Love Went To Waste,” A Touch of Class

1974 “We May Never Love Like This Again,” The Towering Inferno “Benji’s Theme (I Feel Love),” Benji

“Blazing Saddles,” Blazing Saddles

“Wherever Love Takes Me,” Gold

“Little Prince,” The Little Prince

1975 “I’m Easy,” Nashville “How Lucky Can You Get,” Funny Lady

“Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To),” Mahogany

“Richard’s Window,” The Other Side of the Mountain

“Now That We’re in Love,” Whiffs

1976 “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born),” A Star is Born “A World That Never Was,” Half a House

“Ave Satani,” The Omen

“Come to Me,” The Pink Panther Strikes Again

“Gonna Fly Now,” Rocky

1977 “You Light Up My Life,” You Light Up My Life “Candle on the Water,” Pete’s Dragon

“Someone’s Waiting for You,” The Rescuers

“The Slipper and the Rose Waltz (He Danced with Me/She Danced with Me),”The Slipper and the Rose

“Nobody Does It Better,” Nobody Does It Better

1978 “Last Dance,” Thank God It’s Friday “Ready To Take a Chance Again,” Foul Play

“Hopelessly Devoted to You,” Grease

“When You’re Loved,” The Magic of Lassie

“The Last Time I Felt Like This,” Same Time, Next Year

1979 “It Goes Like It Goes,” Norma Rae “Through the Eyes of Love,” Ice Castles

“The Rainbow Connection,” The Muppet Movie

“I’ll Never Say Goodbye,” The Promise

“It’s Easy To Say,” 10

1980 “Fame,” Fame “People Alone,” The Competition

“Out Here On My Own,” Fame

“On the Road Again,” Honeysuckle Rose

“Nine to Five,” Nine to Five

1981 “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),”Arthur “Endless Love,” Endless Love

“For Your Eyes Only,” For Your Eyes Only

“The First Time It Happens,” The Great Muppet Caper

“One More Hour,” Ragtime

1982 “Up Where We Belond,” An Officer and a Gentleman “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”,Best Friends

“Eye of the Tiger,” Rocky III

“It Might Be You,” Tootsie

“If We Were In Love,” Yes, Giorgio

1983 “Flashdance… What a Feeling,” Flashdance “Maniac,” Flashdance

“Over You,” Tender Mercies

“Papa, Can You Hear Me?”, Yentl

“The Way He Makes Me Feel,” Yentl

1984 “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” The Woman in Red “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now),” Against All Odds

“Footloose,” Footloose

“Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” Footloose

“Ghostbusters,” Ghostbusters

1985 “Say You, Say Me,” White Nights “The Power of Love,” Back to the Future

“Surprise, Surprise,” A Chorus Line

“Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister),” The Color Purple

“Separate Lives,” White Nights

1986 “Take My Breath Away,” Top Gun “Somewhere Out There” An American Tail

“Glory of Love,” The Karate Kid, Part II

“Mean Green Mother From Outer Space,”Little Shop of Horrors

“Life in a Looking Glass,” That’s Life!

1987 “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” Dirty Dancing “Shakedown,” Beverly Hills Cop II

“Cry Freedom,” Cry Freedom

“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,”Mannequin

“Storybook Love,” The Princess Bride

1988 “Let the River Run,” Working Girl “Calling You,” Bagdad Café

“Two Hearts,” Buster

1989 “Under the Sea,” The Little Mermaid “After All,” Chances Are

“Kiss the Girl,” The Little Mermaid

“I Love To See You Smile,” Parenthood

“The Girl Who Used to Be Me,” Shirley Valentine

1990 “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man),”Dick Tracy “Promise Me You’ll Remember,” The Godfather Part III

“Somewhere in My Memory,” Home Alone

“I’m Checkin’ Out,” Postcards from the Edge

“Blaze of Glory,” Young Guns II

1991 “Beauty and the Beast,” Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest,” Beauty and the Beast

“Belle,” Beauty and the Beast

“When You’re Alone,” Hook

“(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

1992 “A Whole New World,” Aladdin “Friend Like Me,” Aladdin

“I Have Nothing,” The Bodyguard

“Run to You,” The Bodyguard

“Beautiful Maria of My Soul,” The Mambo Kings

1993 “Streets of Philadelphia,” Philadelphia “The Day I Fall in Love,” Beethoven’s 2nd

“Philadelphia,” Philadelphia

“Again,” Poetic Justice

“A Wink and a Smile,” Sleepless in Seattle

1994 “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” The Lion King “Look What Love Has Done,” Junior

“Circle of Life,” The Lion King

“Hakuna Matata,” The Lion King

“Make Up Your Mind,” The Paper

1995 “Colors of the Wind,” Pocahontas “Dead Man Walking,” Dead Man Walking

“Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?”,Don Juan DeMarco

“Moonlight,” Sabrina

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” Toy Story

1996 “You Must Love Me,” Evita “I Finally Found Someone,” The Mirror Has Two Faces

“For the First Time,” One Fine Day

“That Thing You Do!”, That Thing You Do!

“Because You Loved Me,” Up Close & Personal

1997 “My Heart Will Go On,” Titanic “Journey to the Past,” Anastasia

“How Do I Love,” Con Air

“Miss Misery,” Good Will Hunting

“Go the Distance,” Hercules

1998 “When You Believe,” The Prince of Egypt “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,”Armageddon

“That’ll Do,” Babe: Pig in the City

“A Soft Place to Fall,” The Horse Whisperer

“The Prayer,” Quest for Camelot

1999 “You’ll Be in My Heart,” Tarzan “Save Me,” Magnolia

“Music of My Heart,” Music of the Heart

“Blame Canada,” South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut

“When She Loved Me,” Toy Story 2

2000 “Things Have Changed,” Wonder Boys “I’ve Seen It All,” Dancer in the Dark

“My Funny Friend and Me,” The Emperor’s New Groove

“A Fool in Love,” Meet the Parents

“A Love Before Time,” Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

2001 “If I Didn’t Have You,” Monsters, Inc. “Until…,” Kate and Leopold

“May It Be,” The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

“There You’ll Be,” Pearl Harbor

“Vanilla Sky,” Vanilla Sky

2002 “Lose Yourself,” 8 Mile “I Move On,” Chicago

“Burn It Blue,” Frida

“The Hands That Built America,” Gangs of New York

“Father and Daughter,” The Wild Thornberrys Movie

2003 “Into the West,” The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King “Scarlet Tide,” Cold Mountain

“You Will Be My Ain True Love,” Cold Mountain

“A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” A Mighty Wind

“Belleville Rendez-Vous,” The Triplets of Belleville

2004 “Al otro lado del rio,” The Motorcycle Diaries “Vois sur ton chermin (Look to Your Path),”The Chorus

“Learn to Be Lonely,” The Phantom of the Opera

“Believe,” The Polar Express

“Accidentally in Love,” Shrek 2

2005 “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp,” Hustle & Flow “In the Deep,” Crash

“Travelin’ Thru,” Transamerica

2006 “I Need to Wake Up,” An Inconvenient Truth “Our Town,” Cars

“Listen,” Dreamgirls

“Love You I Do,” Dreamgirls

“Patience,” Dreamgirls

2007 “Falling Slowly,” Once “Happy Working Song,” Enchanted

“So Close,” Enchanted

“That’s How You Know,” Enchanted

Raise It Up,” August Rush

2008 “Jai Ho,” Slumdog Millionaire “O…Saya,” Slumdog Millionaire

“Down to Earth,” Wall-E

2009 “The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart “Almost There,” The Princess and the Frog

“Down in New Orleans,” The Princess and the Frog

“Loin de Paname,” Paris 36

“Take It All,” Nine

2010 “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3 “I See the Light,” Tangled

“Coming Home,” Country Strong

“If I Rise,” 127 Hours

2011 “Man or Muppet,” The Muppets “Real in Rio,” Rio
2012 “Skyfall,” from Skyfall “Before My Time,” from Chasing Ice“Everybody Needs a Best Friend,” from Ted
2013 “Let It Go,” from Frozen “Happy,” from Despicable Me 2

“The Moon Song,”from Her

“Ordinary Love,” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


2014 “Glory,” from Selma “Lost Stars,” from Begin Again

“Grateful,” from Beyond the Lights

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” from Glen Campbell… Ill Be Me

“Everything Is Awesome,” from The Lego Movie

No guild for this, and no one can really guess how it’s gonna go. Pretty much you just have to wing it. It comes down to simply, what’s the best song and what’s the song people are gonna vote for. This year comes down to a 50/50 choice.

Best Original Song

“Earned It,” from Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray,” from Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” from Youth

“Till It Happens to You,” from The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s on the Wall,” from Spectre


5. “Manta Ray” — J. Ralph was nominated three years ago for Chasing Ice, and that song immediately fell to the back of the pack as well. (Also of note, three years ago, “Skyfall” won. So there’s that.) If there’s a documentary song that’s going to win, it’s not this one.

4. “Earned It” — Academy Award nominee Fifty Shades of Grey is one thing. Academy Award winner Fifty Shades of Grey is another entirely. The studio is going to campaign like crazy for this, but there’s no way people will vote for it. Not a chance in hell.

3. “Simple Song #3 — Not enough people even saw this movie, and it’s basically an opera song. There’s no chance in hell that they’re gonna vote for this. I’d actually be shocked. I’ve been shocked before. 2004, when The Motorcycle Diaries won out of nowhere. So it could happen. I’m just saying you can’t consider this a frontrunner. Because how the hell does this look like a favorite to win?

2. “Writing’s on the Wall” — This is the easiest song for them to vote for, and I’m struggling not making this the frontrunner.

1. “Till It Happens to You” — This seems like the “important” song of the group. It was performed during the PGA awards. So a lot of producers got to hear this, and word is she really sung the shit out of it. It’s things like that which make me think this song is gonna run away with the category. It’s between the populist choice of Bond and this song, which has Lady Gaga, Diane Warren and a message behind it. Sam Smith wasn’t singing at the PGA. That’s all I’m saying. I think this is your likely winner in the category.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow is Best Cinematography. We’re going from ear holes to eye holes.


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