IT didn’t win Best Picture but La La Land did score the Best Original Song at last year’s Oscars.
Yet 12 months later, many would struggle to remember the song’s title let alone hum a few bars. (It was City of Stars).
The Academy’s nod to the supporting role of music in film is rarely a chart-topper. Not even Adele’s unleashing her power lungs on the Bond theme Skyfall nor the annoyingly ubiquitous Frozen theme Let It Go managed to reach No. 1 in Australia.
The Best Song noms in recent decades have been dominated by Bond themes, Disney or Pixar showstoppers or a new song added to the cast recording of a Broadway adaptation. Existing songs from stage musicals adapted for the big screen aren’t eligible for the Oscars.
A golden era for big movie themes emerged in the 1980s and 90s when almost every Oscar winner also happened to be a No. 1 chart hit.
From Irene Cara’s Fame in 1980 and then Flashdance … What A Feeling in 1983 through to Bruce Springsteen’s Streets Of Philadelphia and Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, these unforgettable marriages of music with pictures remain pop culture magic two decades later.
A host of A-listers have tried to parlay their pop power into winning the prized trophy with Bono, Sting, Springsteen, Elton John and Phil Collins regulars among the nominees in the past 25 years.
Despite the Academy voters’ hit and miss record on picking the best track each year, fans prefer the oldies even now.
American polling site FiveThirtyEight used a random match-up generator to pit every winner over the eight decade history against each other to find the Best Best Song — and the Worst Best Song.
The winner of their poll was the Wizard Of Oz classic Over The Rainbow from 1939, followed by Pinocchio theme When You Wish Upon A Star (1940), Elton John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight from Lion King (1994), Flashdance … What A Feeling (1983) and The Way You Look Tonight from Swing Time (1936).
The best songs from recent years was Eminem’s Lose Yourself (2002) and Adele’s Skyfall in 2012.
The worst song according to the match-ups was Sweet Leilani sung by Bing Crosby for the 1937 film Waikiki Wedding with Man Or Muppet, written by Flight Of The Conchords’ Bret McKenzie for the 2011 The Muppets movie.
It is unlikely the 2018 nominees list of Best Original Songs will be on high rotation at your next karaoke night.
The only song to trouble the Australian charts is This Is Me from the Greatest Showman, which peaked at No. 10. The other nominees are Remember Me from Coco, Mystery Of Love from Call Me By My Name, Stand Up For Something from Marshall and Mighty River from Mudbound.
Based on sheer popularity, This Is Me should win but those Frozen writers, who are also behind the Coco tune, have popular history on their side.
Ahead of the big reveal tomorrow, here’s a look at some of the recent Best Songs winners at the Oscars and who should have won the gong on the night.
Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man), Madonna for Dick Tracy.
Oh, come on. Madge and the movies have polarised fans and critics for decades but she has an enviable strike rate at the Oscars. Surely the Oscar should have gone to the fist-pumping hair rock of Jon Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory for the Young Guns II soundtrack.
You Must Love Me, Madonna for Evita
A new track written for the film adaptation was a typically bombastic Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice composition. Adam Schlesinger’s That Thing You Do!, the theme for the Tom Hanks movie of the same name perfectly captured the 60s pop sound of the film’s fictional band The Wonders and has been covered numerous times including by The Knack, NSYNC and Pentatonix.
You’ll Be In My Heart, Phil Collins for Tarzan.
There was a collective eyeroll among music fans when the winner was announced for this Disney theme. One of the most underrated and revered songwriters of her generation Aimee Mann had written the songs for the Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia and Save Me was a standout piece of alternative pop magic.
I Need To Wake Up, Melissa Etheridge for An Inconvenient Truth.
The earnest and worthy documentary theme beat out three nominees from the movie which ushered in a renaissance for Hollywood musicals. How Beyonce’s Listen or Jennifer Hudson’s
Love You I Do from Dreamgirls didn’t take this one out remains a crime against movie themes.
Let It Go, Idina Menzel for Frozen
The song which drove millions of parents to the brink of insanity was classical musical theatre fodder and peaked at No. 16 on the ARIA charts. The Golden Man trophy belonged to the Man in the Hat, Pharrell Williams for the infectious and innovative hit Happy from Despicable Me 2 soundtrack reigned supreme at No. 1 and was the inescapable feel-good song of the year.
Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall for Spectre.
One of the less memorable Bond themes struggled to make a dent on the ARIA charts, peaking at No. 43. And while it didn’t make any appearance on the pop charts, Lady Gaga and Diane Warren’s searingly haunting orchestral ballad Til It Happens To You from the Hunting Ground, a documentary about campus rape in the US deserved the gong.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s City of Stars for La La Land.
Another big musical number, another forgettable song which went nowhere on the pop charts in Australia. Justin Timberlake’s delightfully upbeat pop tune Can’t Stop The Feeling from Trolls reached No. 3 at the charts and has become one of his biggest hits.