The LAMB Devours the Oscars 2018: Best Original Song

by Jay Cluitt · February 9, 2018 · Featured, LAMB Devours the Oscars · 1 Comment

Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:

Today, Todd Liebenow from Forgotten Films is here to look at the nominees for Best Original Song.

You know as well as I do what the number one topic of discussion is regarding the Oscars each year…how long the ceremony is. You always hear someone talk about how surely there are a few categories that can be trimmed, and that’s when the hatred always turns its attention to Best Original Song. After all, you could kill roughly 20 to 25 minutes of the broadcast just by not having those songs performed. Plus, there is the debate about what the point of this award is, anyway. Is it about the songs themselves, or how the songs contribute to the rest of the film? If the later is the case, then can a song that only runs over the end credits truly be the best choice? I don’t think we’ll ever know for certain what the right approach to this category is.

I admit, this Oscar category has frustrated me in recent years. This is primarily because so many of the winning songs have been so stinkin’ unmemorable lately. The few exceptions have been 2011’s winner “Man or Muppet” and the juggernaut that was Frozen’s “Let it Go.” Clearly there is trouble with the category when two years ago they gave the award to the unbearable song from Spectre, “Writing’s on the Wall.” The trumpet-like mating calls of an elk would’ve made a better Bond theme than that monstrosity. Still, I’m not one of those people that says dump the category. I love movie music, I just wish Hollywood would up their game a bit.

As for this year’s nominees, let me begin by saying I have not seen any of the films they come from as of yet. This is par for the course for me. I’m at that stage in life where getting to the movie theater is a rare treat, so I don’t see most films until they’ve made their way to DVD or streaming. So, I have no idea how these songs factor into the greater context of the films they represent. In fact, I hadn’t even heard any of these songs until sitting down a half hour ago. So, here are my reactions….

Mystery of Love – Call Me By Your Name (Sufjan Stevens)

First up we have “Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens from the film Call Me by Your Name. I’ve heard a bit of buzz about this song. A few other film bloggers and podcasters had been vocal in their praise of this song and how moving it was. Um…okay. I mean, it was a fine song and all, but I can’t say I was overly “moved” by it. Truth be told, I found it pleasant for the first half of its running time, but then it started to get a bit monotonous. I’ve got nothing against Sufjan Stevens, mind you. The man released a whole album inspired by my home state of Illinois. It even features a song named for my favorite obscure holiday, Casimir Pulaski Day. That song’s not up for an Oscar, though. As for “Mystery of Love,” I know many consider it to be one of the front runners, but it just wasn’t that awe inspiring for me.

Stand Up For Something – Marshall (Diane Warren, Common)

We move on to “Stand Up for Something” from Marshall; a film I admit I didn’t know existed until these nominations came out. The song is performed by Andra Day featuring Common. Apologies to Miss Day, but I can’t really say I was familiar with her until now either. Cut me some slack, this isn’t really my style of music. Perhaps that’s why this song didn’t really resonate with me either. Sure there is some weight to the lyrics, but they are literally drowned by a beat that is way too present. Not a strong nominee in my book.

This Is Me – The Greatest Showman (Benj Pasek, Justin Paul)

The next song I cued up was “This Is Me” from the musical The Greatest Showman. This is the tune that won the Golden Globe a few weeks ago. It also has the distinction of being the one song out of these five that I really really enjoyed. It’s a big, rousing number with inspiring lyrics. It doesn’t hurt that this song is from an actual musical, which can certainly be an advantage in this category. I could easily see the actual Oscar broadcast starting with a performance of this song. Show clips of various films from the past year as it’s performed…movie fans all over the world will gush.

Mighty River – Mudbound (Mary J. Blige)

Next up is “Mighty River” from the Netflix film Mudbound, performed by Mary J Blige. She not only appears in the film, as well, but got a Best Supporting Actress nomination to show for it. Here we have a very pretty song, but again, not terribly memorable. The song actually runs out of steam with about two minutes of run time left to go. I can only take so much of the backup singers repeating “Like a river, mighty river” over and over again.

Remember Me – Coco (Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez)

Last but not least we have “Remember Me” from Pixar’s Coco. Now, Pixar has had some success in this category before, but that’s all courtesy of Mr. Randy Newman. This song does have a pedigree of its own, though, as it is penned by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, who took home the gold with “Let it Go.” This song is certainly pleasant enough, but the prevailing opinion I’ve heard from those who have seen Coco is that the songs are far from the most memorable aspect of that film. You can never rule out an animated film in this category, though.

As for me, if I were a voter, my support would go to “This Is Me.” Having listened to all these songs a few times through as I write this article, it’s the one that has really stuck with me. With the Golden Globe win under its belt, I think it has to be considered the frontrunner at this point. Sadly, I have to say that overall it’s another pretty weak year for the Best Original Song category. Come on Hollywood! Where’s the next “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp?

What do you think is going to win?