For Oscars, time to sing a new song
Can't do it, can you?
Don't worry, you're not alone. Most avid filmgoers and award-season scorekeepers couldn't sing "Loin de Paname" from "Paris 36" if their very "vies" depended on it. In what has become an annual phenomenon, we're once again looking at a slate of Oscar-nominated songs that, while recognizing some fine work, pays tribute to music that most people with a working radio or iPod have never heard.
Clark Collis wrote a nice, long story on this very subject in Entertainment Weekly's current Oscar issue, which, for reasons that defy Internet logic, I was unable to track down on the Web. But EW's Oscar guru, Dave Karger, wrote a blog post that touches on many of the same themes addressed in Collis's piece and cites the '80s as a time when pop music and Oscar enjoyed a much more symbiotic relationship.
Consider the songs that won the Academy Award for best original song between the years of, say, 1971 and 1990. With a couple of exceptions -- most notably, 1979's "It Goes Like It Goes" from the movie "Norma Rae," which had no business beating Kermit the Frog's well-known ditty about rainbows, and 1988's "Let the River Run" from "Working Girl" -- every single one of these tunes reached the masses.
Theme from "Shaft," winner in '71? You know it and love it.
"Last Dance" by Donna Summer, the disco victor in '78? You'd dance to that right now if I fired it up.
"Flashdance ... What a Feeling," Oscar's triumphant 1983 tune? In a flash, it still takes over your soul.
"Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie, which won in 1985?
Okay, so I didn't say they were all good. The point is you could probably name all of these tunes in fewer than five notes. And whether these pop songs were of the highest quality or not, at the very least they certainly seem emblematic of their era.
Flash forward to the '00s and that same statement only applies to one of the decade's winners -- "Lose Yourself" by Eminem.
So why has this happened? Is it because the music industry is so fractured that universally known pop music no longer exists? (I'd say no.) Have the original songs created for movie soundtracks gotten notably less catchy? (Not necessarily, although Collis's article -- which, again, I *so* wish I could link to -- points out that soundtracks no longer sell the way they once did and studios now invest less time and money in movie music.)
I think the truth is that the Academy's approach to honoring cinematic tuneage needs a revamp. Certainly the voters should still recognize original songs and original scores. But I propose a new award: best adapted song.
This would allow the Academy to applaud tracks that may not have been written expressly for the purposes of a certain film, like, say, Sad Brad Smith's "Help Yourself" from "Up in the Air," which was booted out of the best song race this year because a portion of it had been previously rendered. (And yeah, I know it's not exactly sweeping the dance clubs either, but it's a great song and deserved to compete.)
More importantly, a category like this would also allow more rock, pop and hip-hop favorites that play prominent, even iconic roles in modern movies to be recognized. Imagine a world where, say, "Tango de Roxanne" from "Moulin Rouge" could win an Oscar. Or "Mad World" from "Donnie Darko." Or "Where is My Mind?" from "Fight Club."
Hey, if we can do 10 best picture nominees, why not?
Guest Celebritologist Jen Chaney oversees online movie coverage for the Post and feels strongly that "Blame Canada" was robbed of its rightful Oscar in 1999.
| February 9, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Awards Season
Save & Share: Previous: Jackson's doctor charged with involuntary manslaughter; Brangelina sues tabloid
Next: Angelina Jolie visits Haiti; 'Catch' captain dies
Posted by: wadejg | February 9, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: td_in_baltimore | February 9, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mdreader01 | February 9, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hodie2 | February 9, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mdreader01 | February 9, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: grog00 | February 9, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | February 9, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hodie2 | February 9, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Bawlmer51 | February 9, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: mcleve | February 9, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: scandibaby | February 9, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: northgs | February 9, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: td_in_baltimore | February 9, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sorcerers_cat | February 9, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: snowflakegarcia | February 10, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.