Best Original Song nominees typically don’t get much more interesting than they did last year when Alone Yet Not Alone, a film which, to my knowledge, has still not been released, mysteriously got a nod for its title track. Turns out, the head of the Academy’s music branch had some ties to the film, and it was disqualified. This boring bit of awards intrigue is a perfect match to the boring songs often populate the category. Sure, “Glory” and “Everything Is Awesome” are great, but here are some alternate choices worth considering.
“Hate the Sport” – We Are The Best!
This song is as delightful an expression of unfocused angst as the film it comes from. The main characters in this Swedish film are obsessed with punk rock, and they attempt to start a group despite two major obstacles: one, they don’t know how to play any instruments, and two, they don’t have a whole lot to rebel against. So the inspiration for their first (and only) song is their hatred for sports and the people who play them. The passion on display in the song is infectious. You’ve never hated anything as much as these girls hate the sport, but you’ll be hating it right along with them in short order.
“Spooks” – Inherent Vice
This is technically a track from Jonny Greenwood’s score, but it’s worth including. It was originally composed as a Radiohead song, but was abandoned and recycled by Greenwood, so its point of origin lends it some legitimacy in this category (though it’s certainly not “original”). The film’s soundtrack plays bits of Joanna Newsom’s narration over this track, and while they aren’t from the scene in the film where this track occurs, they perfectly complement its paranoid groove.
“I Love You All” – Frank
I wasn’t crazy about this film, but I’d have a hard time admitting that its end-credits song isn’t solid. The title character’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics alongside the quasi-normal melody make a beautifully weird juxtaposition. Those lyrics are the real hero of the song; “stench of cigarettes and stale urea,” for example, paints a strong mental image without including any context for it. It’s just what Frank was smelling when he was coming up with the song in the final scene. And it’s all in service of the most popular theme in the history of songwriting: an expression of love. There’s something wonderful about absurdity in the service of banality.
“I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie” – God Help the Girl
This song also existed before the film was made, but I’m letting it slide. The songs in this film were originally written with a movie musical in mind, it just took a while for the movie itself to get made. Also, this song is so eminently lovable that any disqualifying technicalities should be excused.
“It Was The Last Thing On Your Mind” – They Came Together
This isn’t a particularly great song, but not without good reason. It’s a parody of the uber-generic love ballads that are so often produced alongside romantic comedies with the hopes of the film’s success increasing its exposure or vice versa. The moment in They Came Together where this song plays is a hilarious expose of the calculated business motivation behind these songs. The film suddenly turns into a music video for the song — a music video which includes clips from the film and appearances from the out-of-character lead actors. Best Original Song? Maybe not. Best Send-Up Of Original Songs? Without a doubt.