thoughts//TOP TEN OSCAR-WINNING ORIGINAL SONGS

TOP TEN

"Let It Go" might be the last song you want to hear right now, but it has something in common with 79 other songs throughout film history. Introduced in 1934, the Academy Award for Best Original Song first went to "The Continental" from the classic The Gay Divorcee. Since then popular hits like "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing have received the award while others like "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" from Armageddon have been nominated. The list of winning songs is a smorgasbord of classics and standards. While I'm only highlighting what I think are the ten best of the list of winners, check out the list here and let me know if I've royally messed up and left off a worthy tune.

10. "LOSE YOURSELF" - 8 Mile (2002)
Music: Jeff Bass, Eminem, Luis Resto; Lyrics: Eminem
The first rap song to win the award, Eminem's "Lose Yourself" was an anthem for letting your emotions take over, in whichever way you want to translate that. 8 Mile was a box office success and features the late Brittany Murphy, but the standout was this song, which in its own right became a chart-topping hit and one of Eminem's greatest songs, so far. Some shrugged their shoulders when the song won, feeling like the Academy was trying to hard to reach the younger crowd. Eminem didn't even show up to the ceremony.

9. "WHITE CHRISTMAS" - Holiday Inn (1942)
Music and Lyrics: Irving Berlin 
It's the most recorded Christmas song, as well as the Guinness World Record holder for best-selling single of all time for Bing Crosby's version (it's estimated to have sold over 50 million copies), but it's not from the movie that made it famous, White Christmas. Before Bing Crosby crooned it in that 1954 classic, he sang it in 1942's Holiday Inn. The song was overshadowed, at first, by another of the film's song, "Be Careful, It's My Heart," but it would go on to be a chart-topping hit, especially after its reprise in White Christmas years later.


8. "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" - Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Music: Alan Menken; Lyrics: Howard Ashman
Performed in the film by Angela Lansbury's Mrs. Potts, "Beauty and the Beast" also saw a hit single in the version sung by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. The song was one of three Beauty and the Beast songs nominated, but it's only fitting that the title song would walk away the victor ("Be Our Guest" was a great contender, as well). The songs rising flow is only matched by the incredible animation of the film, the first animated feature to ever be nominated for Best Picture. 
 
7. "CHIM CHIM CHER-EE" - Mary Poppins (1964)
Music and Lyrics: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman
The story of the music of Mary Poppins is almost as intriguing as the songs themselves. "Chim Chim Cher-ee" is one of the many classics that make up the Disney film and this is equal thanks to the Sherman brothers' brilliant writing and Dick Van Dyke's horrendous, but charming, English accent. The chimney sweep spectacular features a great dance number and a tune so infectious that you're probably humming it to yourself right now. 

6. "THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT" - Swing Time (1936)
Music: Jerome Kern; Lyrics: Dorothy Fields
Fred Astaire is one of those classic entertainers and his voice is timeless, as heard in the original recording of this standard. The song's lyricist, Dorothy Fields, is famous for saying that she cried when she first heard the melody from musician Jerome Kern. Since Swing Time's release, almost every classic artist has done some sort of cover of the song. Bing Crosby, Billie Holliday, Tony Bennett, the list keeps going. It's as timeless as cinema romance can be.  

5. "CAN YOU FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT" - The Lion King (1994)
Music: Elton John; Lyrics: Tim Rice
Out of the five original songs written by Elton John and Tim Rice for The Lion King, three of them were nominated for the Oscar, with this touching ballad named king. The movie alone is a modern classic and this song fits perfectly in the transition from youth to adulthood. Disney has a knack for telling stories that would appeal to kids and adults, alike. While the Elton John version that plays over the end credits is great, the heartbreak you hear in the film's version when Timon and Pumbaa realize their best pal is falling in love is equal parts hilarious and pitiful.

4. "MOON RIVER" - Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Music: Henry Mancini; Lyrics: Johnny Mercer
So simple, yet so refined. Audrey Hepburn's version of the song is one of this classic film's highlights. Hepburn herself was honest about her small vocal range, allowing the song to be a quiet, introspective moment instead of a big musical number. Andy Williams later became famous for his own version of the song, which he performed at the Academy Awards in 1962 to audience approval.

3. "WHEN YOU WISH UPON A STAR" - Pinocchio (1940)
Music: Leigh Harline; Lyrics: Ned Washington
When you think Disney it's hard not to picture this song and the image of Pinocchio transforming from a puppet into a real boy. Jiminy Cricket is the perfect embodiment of a good conscience if there ever was one. The song is completely endearing and empowering. We've all been there as kids wishing on stars, convinced that our wish will come true. As the first Disney song to win an Oscar, it has become a resounding tribute to the spirit of movies and animation of days gone by. 


2. "MY HEART WILL GO ON" - Titanic (1997)
Music: James Horner; Lyrics: Will Jennings 
While the film has suffered from ups and downs in the pop culture realm of acceptance, it's hard to deny the power in the music. James Horner's score, alone, is enough to move you. Add in Celine Dion's incredible vocals on the song that has become her claim to fame and you've got one of cinema's greatest achievements. Skeptics may bring up the film's sappiness and possible overrated hype, but it's hard to remember a film that was such an event upon its release. "My Heart Will Go On" has stood the test of time (almost 20 years!) and will continue on as one of the greatest written songs in history. It's okay to admit you like it.

1. "OVER THE RAINBOW" - The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Music: Harold Arlen; Lyrics: Yip Harburg 
Could there be a more memorable song from a movie ever? Perhaps the best part about this song is that it almost didn't make the final cut in the film. Producers felt it may be too boring or too sad. Judy Garland was said to have broken down in tears after filming the famous sepia scene where Dorothy becomes overcome with emotions on the farm and breaks into a song of hope. It's a song that reaches far beyond any one generation. It'd be hard to find someone in the world who hasn't had some experience with both the movie and the song. It's also a paramount to the art form. Movies are about escape. Also, nothing can compete with Judy Garland's version of the song.

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