Oscar's first round of Best Original Song contenders: fixing last year's mistakes

It was reported yesterday that Adele's James Bond theme song, "Skyfall," would be eligible for the Best Original Song award at the upcoming Oscar ceremonies, despite including elements of the well-established (and, at this point, not original) Bond theme. But what's also news is that unlike last year, when 37 out of 39 possible songs were disqualified for the same award, there are now 75 contenders and different standards. The Academy is shooting for a total of five nominees, up from last year's confounding two. So, what happened, and what did they fix this time around? And who can beat Adele? (In my opinion? Nobody.)

Earlier this year, when the Oscar nominees were announced for the 84th Annual Academy Awards, many were shocked when only two songs were up for Best Original Song: "Man or Muppet," from The Muppets, and "Real in Rio," from Rio. What was that all about? Did the title of the song have to contain the title of the movie? What happened was an extremely picky-sounding point system, with the Academy's music branch voters bestowing ratings from six to ten points on the 39 eligible songs. And only songs receiving an 8.25 rating or higher could be nominated. Considering the star power behind several of the original contenders -- Elton John (who sang two songs for Gnomeo and Juliet, one with Lady Gaga), Elvis Costello ("Sparkling Day," One Day), Mary J. Blige ("Living Proof," The Help), and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken ("Star-Spangled Man," Captain America) -- it was really surprising that basically no one was deemed worthy of even a nomination. Blame the Russian and French judges, I suppose.

This year, however, the Academy has seen how weird that was and changed things up a bit. A five-nominee minimum has been established, and the finalists will be voted upon by the music branch, eliminating the points system. Among the possible nominees competing with "Skyfall": "Suddenly," the new song written for Les Misérables, Karen O.'s "Strange Love" from Frankenweenie, two songs from Brave, four songs from Django Unchained, and "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from Seth MacFarlane's Ted (!!!). Lots of variety in this one, plenty of interesting songs that may or may not be performed at the show, but we won't know until all the nominees are announced on January 10 -- before the Golden Globe Awards. (Yet another shakeup by the Academy.) The 85th Annual Academy Awards telecast will air on Sunday, February 24 on ABC.

And here is "Skyfall," for your listening pleasure:

Adele's 'Skyfall' theme deemed eligible for original song Oscar [EW]


  1. Considering the other (should-have-been) nominees from last year, I’d say that the winner was well chosen. I’d have loved to see Segal sing it live!

    1. say what?

      i’m no adele fan — i’ve enjoyed what has randomly crossed my radar without seeking her music out — but i do have to admire much of what she is able to do with her voice.

      i’m able to work the better part of 2 octaves — not prettily, mind you, but…  — and can say, from singing along, that adele moves at least beyond that. my guess is around 3.

      she’s a natural blues belter who makes her bread and butter from her lower range, but also displays a clear upper range and falsetto.  her upper range can fluctuate between chest and head and she seems to have pinpoint control of vibrato no matter which register she is singing in.

      you can dislike an artist all you would like, but making silly comments like yours does your argument great disservice and leaves you looking like a bitter and uniformed crank.

      she’s selling millions of albums, selling out stadiums, charming both serious music critics and adoring fans alike, and doing so with music that borrows more from soul than from pop.  unlike so many out there, she’s a fairly plain looking woman working without gimmick or autotune.

      if anyone with a decent vocal range could do that, then she probably wouldn’t be the success that she is, would she?

    1. Agreed.  Repetitive and it uses a tepid build to a nondescript sonic climax.  Something else might be better.

  2. Brave will win. Disney always wins despite being usually awful, awful songs. These songs are awful, and will still win.

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