Though in the past decade there's been some surprisingly inspired winners in the likes of The Swell Season's "Falling Slowly" (from "Once") Eminem's "Lose Yourself" (from "8 Mile"), Three 6 Mafia's "It's Hard Out There For a Pimp" (from "Hustle & Flow") and Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett's "The Weary Kind" (from "Crazy Heart"), the Academy's music branch has in general had a very difficult time figuring how to be consistent in rewarding the most deserving songs in a given year.
Karen O's "All is Love" (from "Where The Wild Things Are") Badly Drawn Boy's "Silent Sigh" (from "About a Boy") . Gustavo Santaolalla, Bernie Taupin and Emmylou Harris's "A Love That Never Grows Old" (from "Brokeback Mountain"), Marc Shaiman's "America Fuck Yeah" (from "Team America: World Police), Eddie Vedder's "Guaranteed" (from "Into The Wild"), Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" (from "The Wrestler"), and Jon Brion's "Knock Yourself Out" (from "I Heart Huckabees") are among the many incredibly deserving songs that recently failed to nab a nomination. Some of these songs were disqualified thanks to the category's peculiar rules ("A Love That Never Grows Old" wasn't used prominently enough in "Mountain," for example), but most just didn't get the votes. This despite the fact that an endless parade of forgettable songs did indeed ("Learn To Be Lonely" from "The Phantom of the Opera," anyone? How about "In The Deep" from "Crash"?).
Last year was particularly problematic. While "Man or Muppet" — Bret McKenzie's track from "The Muppets," which won the prize — was definitely a worthy tune, it competed against only one other song (the forgettable "Real in Rio" from "Rio"), a strange move thanks to a complicated rule system involving each member of the Music Branch of the Academy being asked to vote for their favorite songs, using a special points system (using 10, 9.5, 9, 8.5, 8, 7.5, 7, 6.5 or 6 points to score the song). Only those songs that received an average score of 8.25 or more were eligible for nomination. If no song received an average of 8.25 or more, there would be no nominees. And if only one song achieved that score, it and the song receiving the next highest score would be the two nominees, as was the case last year.
After the criticism that came with only two songs being nominated, yet another rule change was made by the committee. Instead of the wacky math system that was set in place the number of nominations is now contingent upon the number of submissions. Depending on the amount received by the Academy there would be a minimum of five, three or none for any given year. The submissions are not official this year, but last year the number of submissions doubled the necessary minimum for five, suggesting it is very unlikely that the category would have fewer than five nominees in the future.
So assuming we indeed will see five nominees again this year, where could things head? It's a largely difficult category to predict, but Indiewire's current predictions in the category suggest the as-yet-unheard sole original song from "Les Miserables" (titled "Suddenly," and sung by Hugh Jackman) seems like a shoo-in (the music branch loves an original song made for an old musical, see tracks from "Chicago," "Dreamgirls," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Nine" all making the cut recently), while songs from "Lawless" (Willie Nelson), "Brave" (Birdy and Mumford & Sons), "Joyful Noise" (Dolly Parton) and "Skyfall" (Adele) could all join it.
Parton's sweet little diddy, entitled "From Here To Moon and Back," is a personal favorite, and will hopefully give Parton her third nomination in this category. It seems like a safe bet given that it is an easy listen and the least likely to divide among a largely older voting branch:
As for Adele, one would think she's the frontrunner here, given a) "Skyfall" is a huge hit, b) the song was extremely well-recieved and is a big hit in itself and c) everyone loves Adele and she'll guarantee some extra interest in the telecast. But not so fast. A Bond film hasn't been nominated since "For Your Eyes Only" in 1981, quite a few years before Adele was even born. And Eminem and Three Six Mafia aside, the Academy tends to ignore younger, popular artists in this category. But can they really resist this?:
But let's imagine if Adele and Dolly Parton both made the cut, and were joined by the likes of…. Fiona Apple, Florence Welch and Karen O!? All three have songs that could very well prove eligible. And while hell would have most definitely frozen over if all five somehow got nominated, what a dreamy, female-oriented hell that would be. And one in which I (for once) would not designate the best original song performances as a mid-telecast bathroom break.If
Apple, Welch and Ms. O join Arcade Fire and recent Mercury Prize winners Alt-J as the artists behind five songs posted below that would most definitely help the makeover the Academy clearly wants in this category (and while we haven't heard it yet, Frank Ocean's song from "Django Unchained" could help do the same trick). So we hereby dare the Academy to nominate even one of these five songs we have heard. Feel free to offer other suggestions in the comments of this article.
Alt-J feat. Mountain Man – Buffalo (from "Silver Linings Playbook")
Arcade Fire – Abraham's Daughter (from "The Hunger Games")
Fiona Apple – Dull Tool (from "This is 40")
Florence + The Machine – Breath of Life (from "Snow White and the Huntsman")
Karen O – Strange Love (from "Frankenweenie")