And so Oscar season officially begins. With the announcement of last Thursday’s nominations, the annual awards campaign has kicked off. While there were notable surprises and snubs in every category, let’s get to the one that matters to readers of this blog though, Best Original Song.
- Lost Stars – Adam Levine (Begin Again)
- Grateful – Rita Ora (Beyond the Lights)
- Glory – Common & John Legend (Selma)
- I’m Not Gonna Miss You – Glen Campbell (Glen Campbell : I’ll Be Me)
- Everything is AWESOME!!! – Tegan & Sara and The Lonely Island (The LEGO Movie)
That is the field for this year’s Best Original Song winner, which to me, could not be more depressing. In a year that was so uncommonly great for music in movie, to look at that crop as the “best” of the year seems so falsely representative of what the year was. There’s been a lot of talk over the past week of how the mostly older white male demographic that makes up the Academy is out of touch with society and film. The Best Original Song category makes the case that they must be well out of touch with music too.
For starters, the Academy’s strict archaic rules that determine a song’s eligibility has already kept out a crop of songs that otherwise could have livened up the field. Songs like Charli XCX’s summer anthem “Boom Clap” from The Fault In Our Stars was ruled ineligible because of it’s inclusion on her own album that came out later in the year. Had Charli XCX pushed back her album just two weeks to a 2015 release, the song would be suddenly eligible for nomination, such is the fickleness of the Oscar’s rules.
Also while Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch was responsible for 2014’s best musical with his directorial debut, God Help the Girl, all of his songs too were ruled ineligible for existing before the film’s release. Now, the fact that Glen Hansard wrote ‘Falling Slowly’ long before the release of Once somehow did not seem to stop it from winning an Oscar in 2007, but apparently this is now an issue. Which rules out a field that could have included more fun and playful fare, like “I’ll Have to Dance with Cassie.”
Even when the Academy is handed what seems like a home-run, they seem to pass. With the release of the latest Hunger Games film, Lorde’s soundtrack was a project of pure passion. And the Australian wunderkind’s own contribution, “Yellow Flicker Beat” was a catchy and powerful tune, one created from the sounds and story of the film. The song has even become something of a chart hit over the past couple months. And yet, the Oscars decided the song was not good enough to merit a nomination.
So what are we left with then? Adam Levine doing his best Coldplay impression in an effort to seem “authentic?” The race really only comes down to two songs that have actually earned their place here, “Glory” and “Everything is AWESOME!!!,” two songs that could not be more different. Common has had a history of being one of hip-hop’s greatest at creating socially-conscious rap music and with the film of Selma, he’s handed a perfect platform. The song is at times a little heavy-handed, but with references to Ferguson and a message that we still have not truly made Dr. King’s dream a reality, it’s a powerfully relevant choice.
And yet, I’ll be whole-heartedly supporting “Everything is AWESOME!!!” in a year where the best and most original music feels ignored, we have a nomination for “Everything is AWESOME!!!.” The completely unhinged and hilarious EDM number from Tegan & Sara and The Lonely Island provides one of the greatest moments in a film filled with them. But more then that, a win for The LEGO Movie‘s featured track provides a faint glimmer of hope for a future where the Oscars choose songs on merit and not merely as a defensive statement on how illustrious their own trophy is.