Academy Award for Best Original Song – A Closer Look

There are five songs nominated in the shortlist for the Best Original Song Oscar. Here’s my take on them.

Everything Is Awesome (from The Lego Movie)
Music and lyric by Shawn Patterson
Performed by Tegan & Sara feat The Lonely Island

Total YouTube views as of 26/01/2015 = 28,675,867
Well, I think this is the one song on the list that you already know. If you’ve not seen this film, then you can bet someone else you know has. And if they have, they will undoubtedly have sung you some or all of this song. It’s catchy as hell. I’m amazed it has been nominated to be honest, but it is a just nomination and it would be a worthy winner. Before the nominations were released I had never heard of the other four songs on this list and if recent track records are anything to go with then the most popular song always wins (see the wickedly talented, the one and only Adele Dazeem’s “Let It Go” in 2013* and Elvian Conchords Brett McKenzie’s “Man or Muppet” in 2012). The best thing about this winning would be Andy Samberg’s acceptance speech, which, if track record is anything to go by, would be awesome.

Glory (from Selma)
Music and lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
Performed by Common and John Legend

Total YouTube views as of 26/01/2015 = 1,613,740
John Legend has provided a quality chorus and backing track here, the “One day, when the glory comes” refrain more than catchy enough to stay in my head for a while. I have to say though, Common’s rapping leaves a lot to be desired. Music lovers in the UK may be forgiven for not knowing Common. He’s really a lot more well known in the US. It’s weird though, because here he has the look and feel of a middling defence lawyer in a low-budget made-for-TV courtroom drama. Don’t get me wrong, the words he has written are powerful enough, but the way they’re delivered just left me feeling a little indifferent. Mind you, I haven’t bought a hip-hop album since Mos Def’s 1999 hit “Black on Both Sides”, so maybe this just isn’t aimed at me.

Grateful (from Beyond The Lights)
Music and lyric by Diane Warren
Performed by Rita Ora

Number of YouTube views as of 26/01/2015 = 331,107
By far and away the worst song on the list. I’ve no idea how this got nominated. If there was a special award for Best Diane Warren Song of 2014 it wouldn’t even win (remember Paloma Faith’s “Only Love Can Hurt Like This” was released in 2014). The film isn’t even very popular. Baffling really.

I’m Not Going to Miss You (from Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me)
Music, lyric and performance by Glen Campbell

Total YouTube views as of 26/01/2015 = 6,858,585
This would be a good shout for the win. The film Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me has been making waves across the regions it has been available. It charts Glen Campbell’s journey suffering from Alzheimer’s, which is noble subject matter for a film. I’m yet to see it, but this song (Campbell’s last recording) is staunch reminder of his talents. It isn’t by any means his greatest work, but it is proof that the magic is still there as his condition worsens. It’s sad to listen to and should the Academy want to avoid a popular but jokey winner then this will be the one they go for.

Lost Stars (from Begin Again)
Music and lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
Performed by Adam Levine

Total YouTube views as of 26/01/2015 = 20,025,920
There’s a clear reason for this being nominated: TV viewing figures. These award ceremonies are often quite uncomfortable affairs. Neil Patrick Harris will inevitably deliver a well-polished and sharp performance as presenter this year, but more often than not the links and prize giving segments are awkward, silence-filled affairs that leaves the audience begging for reprieve. When Adam Levine takes to the stage we will at least know he’ll nail this song. Taken from Begin Again, a film in which he stars alongside Keira Knightley and James Corden, this is actually a solid power-ballad, the type for which Maroon 5 have become household names. It’s one of the better ones too. It has been included on the reissue of their latest album V, which will help boost sales. I don’t think he’ll be gutted when he finds out he hasn’t won – he’ll be more bothered about how critics react to his first major acting role (quite well, I might add)**. If I were choosing and wanted a serious option, this is the one I’d go for.

* If you’ve not heard this song yet, it’s quite the song. You should check it out. If only it was more popular.

** Critics have been widely accepting-to-encouraging of Levine’s big screen acting debut. That will come as a relief to Levine, who was so desperate to land the role he agreed to do it for free. As a business-minded individual I’m sure it was a calculated risk. He’s singing half of the soundtrack so at worst it will serve as a money-maker for the royalties from he’ll get from the OST, whilst he will also get a welcome boost of interest in their latest album V. Clever boy.

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