The Nominees for Best Original Song:
“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
Music and Lyrics by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from Frozen
Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from Her
Music by Karen O; Lyrics by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyrics by Paul Hewson
Thoughts On The Nominees: Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Lana Del Rey have all been snubbed by the Academy this year. Go figure: Swift and Coldplay were up for a Golden Globe a month and a half ago, and Lana was nominated in the nearly-identical Grammy category for The Great Gatsby’s “Young and Beautiful” (she lost to Adele…who also won the Oscar for “Skyfall” last year; don’t get us started on the timelines and the semantics of varying qualifications for the same song being nominated in different years for different shiny statues). Needless to say — but we’re saying it anyway — we’ve got big question marks dancing above our heads as to why there’s no sign of these major players in this Oscar contest.
But, that being said, there’s still a quartet of true contenders in this category. There were originally five nominees, but “Alone Yet Not Alone” from an obscure film of the same name was removed from the running when the Academy learned that there was some improper campaigning by the song’s composer Bruce Broughton (he emailed Academy members during the voting period, against Academy rules). And then there were four. (Let’s face it, “Alone” was never really a contender anyway.)
So, let’s dig in, shall we? Bono sings the heck out of “Ordinary Love”, and this helped U2 nab the Golden Globe back in January. There’s historical context to consider here, too, since Nelson Mandela died less than a week after the song was released, so there could be some sentiment in the voting. Karen O’s lullaby to love is gorgeous in its subtlety and the song deserves its nomination for the film Her, but “The Moon Song” just isn’t big enough for Oscar — especially when it’s pitted against the the huge, emotive theatrics of Frozen’s “Let It Go” as sung by the formidable Idina Menzel (even though it’s the writers, not the performers who go home with the golden guy). And then there’s that other cartoon with the incredibly infectious “Happy” by Pharrell Williams (more on that in a minute). And, just to keep things interesting, here’s the real kicker: For the first time in more than a few years, all of the nominated songs will be performed live by their original artists at this year’s Academy Awards to keep us guessing as to who a hands-down favorite might be. (Hopefully none will don a Canadian-Mounties-inspired Vivienne Westwood hat. Just sayin’.)
Who Should Win: We’re all for U2 and the man their song celebrates, but if we put sentimentality aside and base our vote on sheer musical prowess, we think it’s a battle between those lovable li’l minions (and Pharrell) and the hit-makers behind “Let It Go” from Frozen. Forced to call it, “Happy” has our vote for its sheer joy and its toe-tapping, smile-inducing, smile-widening likability.
Who Will Win: The feel-good ditty from Despicable Me 2 that came out…well, way back when last summer just seems to be hitting its stride now with repeated radio airplay, so we’re tempted to call “Happy” a quiet, come-from-behind upset. But betting against a Disney tune when it’s belted by someone with a set of pipes like Idina Menzel — that’s no wager we’d take in Vegas. Frozen’s popularity simply cannot be ignored — it’s been picking up snow, um, steam like a snowball rolling down a hill during a polar vortex all winter long. Plus, when you consider that songs in Disney films have a long history of winning in the Best Original Song category at the Oscars (just think: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty And The Beast, Toy Story 3, Tarzan — the list goes on), it’s almost a no-brainer. We think the tradition continues this year, as well, and “Let It Go” will not be frozen out of this one. The li’l bald dude is theirs.
Who do you think will win in the Best Original Song category? Let us know below!
Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.