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Weekend Earworms: The 5 Oscar Nominees for Best Original Song

Weekend Earworms: The 5 Oscar Nominees for Best Original Song

An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things, ever. We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs—even if only for the weekend. So shove this into your grey matter!

Happy “Hollywood pats itself on the back” day, everybody! The 89th Oscars are tonight and all manner of film industry folks will be gathering at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA, to celebrate the thing they already make boatloads of money for! Alright, that seemed cynical (mainly because it was), but you have to admit the Oscars can be a fairly silly affair with the exception of a few categories. The films nominated for Best Picture can be important because they, simply by being nominated, bring in entirely new audiences of people who would have otherwise never watched the films. That, no matter how incremental, can push more people into seeking out great films which can then raise the bar for the whole industry.

What also has a hand in raising the bar for film (or at least not letting it fall) are the music nominations. Composers work their butts off producing original scores that elevate films beyond the visual and are integral to their success while “Best Original Song” can often become part of how each year is musically defined (along with the Grammys, chart success, and album sales.)

In my opinion, this year’s nominees include three wonderful songs that could proudly represent the year in film and two others from a film I admittedly didn’t care for too much. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them takes home the win simply because the film industry tends to love itself a little too much at times.

Let’s slog through these first two and then we’ll get to the real contenders.

“City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land


Unpopular opinion alert! I wasn’t a big fan of La La Land as a film so I certainly don’t think it’s particularly Oscar-worthy. It did have some truly lovely moments but ultimately felt like a padded short film that forgot it was a musical after 20 minutes and then tried to make up for it in the last 10. The music in it isn’t necessarily bad by any means, but it just doesn’t have the heft or oomph that I’d expect for an Oscar nomination (let alone two songs!). Yet, I admit my negative nancy-ness over these songs probably has to do with how stunning the other three nominated songs are.

“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

Man oh man. This song has some weight to it and is utterly heartbreaking even without its connection to the film it was written for. The song was written by J. Ralph and Sting for the documentary Jim: The James Foley Story that chronicled the life of journalist and war correspondent James Foley.

Foley was captured in 2012 and held prisoner by ISIS for two years before his brutal execution at the hands of his captors. The film interviews Foley’s family, friends, and fellow hostages about the man he was and the work he did. “The Empty Chair” is performed by Sting from the perspective of a hostage (one can assume Foley) and how he finds some semblance of comfort in imagining he’s safe back home.

Even if this song doesn’t win, perhaps its nomination allows people to become aware of the film and Foley’s story.

“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls

You have to admit this song is extraordinarily catchy and I would challenge anyone to listen to it without smiling or moving at least a little bit. It’s no surprise that Justin Timberlake is capable of making a catchy tune that’ll live on for years, but it feels Trolls was made specifically for this song instead of the other way around. “Can’t Stop The Feeling” is performing really well on pretty much every music chart, but that likely has little to do with the movie it’s in and everything to do with it being an upbeat Timberlake song.

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

If I had any say in what song should win the Oscar it would be this one, written and produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The song, sung by Auli’i Cravalho, is everything a Disney song should be. The feeling of a spirited young person yearning to break free from the life she knows and make a name for herself is in ever second of this song.

And that energy continues throughout the rest of the soundtrack. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hand in the music is evident in the way that every song feels connected and seems to flow into the next, making the entire experience of Moana, in my humble cranky opinion, one of the best musicals in years.

What song do you think should win “Best Original Song”? Let’s discuss in the comments below as long as you don’t think La La Land‘s music is better than the rest of the nominees!

Image: Disney


Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago, IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)

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