2012 Oscar season disappoints in best original song category
In a year where the nominations for best picture range from the feel-good The Help to the philosophical Tree of Life, the nominations for best original song remain disappointingly shallow.
For the 84th Academy Awards, only two songs were nominated for the category: Rioâs âReal in Riosâ and The Muppetâs âMan or Muppet.â Itâs not that either song is particularly awful ââMan or Muppetâ is pleasantly surprising with its witty lyricism and catchy rock underscoreâ but compared to previous years, 2012 falls far short of its predecessors.
To be fair, the best original song category is usually hit-or-miss. Last year, many audience members were disappointed to see Tangledâs mediocre âI See the Lightâ score a nomination. And the year before, two songs from The Princess and the Frog were in the running with Crazy Heartâs âThe Weary Kind,â pitting soulful fun against the mournful intricate.
Keeping in mind the past few years, the category of best original song seems to be growing more dependent on tracks from childrenâs films and musicals.
Itâs a bit of an overstatement to say that family movie soundtracks are only recently gaining attention from the Academy. (After all, Alan Menken dominated the Oscars in the early 90s with songs like âBeauty and the Beast,â âA Whole New World,â and âColors of the Wind.â) But there did use to be a larger presence of songs from films with a rating higher than âG.â
Take 1997, when Titanicâs âMy Heart Will Go Onâ completely overshadowed Herculesâ âGo the Distanceâ and Anastasiaâs âJourney to the Past.â Or rewind to 1987, where â(Iâve Had) The Time of My Lifeâ from Dirty Dancing grabbed an award in a year where no childrenâs films were nominated.
Now, however, it seems as though the category depends on family movies.
Formerly, big-name artists like Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie drew attention to the musical side of the Oscars, their memorable tracks stealing radio as well as screen time. In a field where a signature song has to match the lighting, editing, and overall tone of the film, big talent and hard work are often a requisite.
Instead, todayâs top artists opt for soundtrack credit by letting a studio borrow an already successful song. Twilightâs bestselling album featured âSupermassive Black Holeâ by Muse, which was released in 2006, a full two years before Twilight. In 2009, (500) Days of Summer highlighted Hall and Oatesâ 1980 hit âYou Make My Dreamsâ. It would appear that with a myriad of great songs already available, film studios and artists just arenât as interested in collaborating.
In fact, only a few artists even come to mind when it comes to movie soundtracks. Carrie Underwood volunteered for âEver Ever Afterâ in 2007âs Enchanted, but the song didnât garner a nomination. Leona Lewisâ work on Avatarâs âI See Youâ drew little recognition. In 2010, Miley Cyrusâ âWhen I Look at Youâ for The Last Song did well on the pop charts but got absolutely no support from the Academy.
Recent trends considered, it would seem that until studios and artists become more interested in making great soundtracks for great movies, the category of best original song will remain pretty uninspired.