Best Original Song – 1979

Official Nominations: It Goes Like It Goes. I’ll Never Say Goodbye. It’s Easy To Say. Rainbow Connection. Through The Eyes Of Love.

There’s only one winner here, surely, and it ain’t It Goes Like It Goes which picked up the official win. That song is a little odd, a ballad which starts with this strange minor key intro before dropping into a faux-Joni Mitchell dance. It’s another one of those Oscar songs that goes absolutely nowhere and is mostly forgettable. Melissa Manchester became the first person to be nominated in the same year for two songs from two films – I’ll Never Say Goodbye is belted out but terrible while Through The Eyes Of Love is much better and fits the sentimental nature of Ice Castles (which I’ve always had some fondness for). It’s Easy To Say from 10 is understated but not very interesting. The undisputed winner is of course Rainbow Connection – still not a great song, but sweet, endearing, and light years ahead of anything else in the category.

My Winner: Rainbow Connection.

A Frog, a Banjo, and an Indelible Message: Making “The Rainbow Connection”  | Vanity Fair

My Nominations: Rainbow Connection. Moonraker. Aquarius. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life. Fantasy. Goodbye Friends. Get Out And Stay Out. Four Faces. Joker James. The Rose. In The City.

Fantasy is from Robert Altman’s forgotten A Perfect Couple – there’s a number of decent ballads and soft rock songs on its soundtrack so you can pick any from it. Goodbye Friends is from the same soundtrack, maybe the standout song as it feels like a more traditional musical number and moves through different tones and stages. Three songs are added to the soundtrack of Quadrophenia, and they’re all great. I’m biased though as I love the original album so finding these bonus extras is always a treat. Get Out And Stay Out is good but a little too repetitive to win. Four Faces is great but feels pretty different from the rest of the soundtrack, while Joker James is very old school The Who in the chorus with verses having their late 70s vibe. You can’t not include The Rose here, perhaps the most gaping miss from the Official Nominations, with Bette Middler blasting it out. Not typically my sort of thing but it works damn well. So much so that I also allowed it to be one of my Wedding songs – played while going up the aisle/completing the service etc. In The City from The Warriors was later covered by The Eagles – Joe Walsh’s original still feels like quintessential US 70s Rock.

My Winner: Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Best Original Song – 1978

Official Nominations: Last Dance. Hopelessly Devoted To You. The Last Time I Felt Like This. Ready To Take A Chance Again. When You’re Loved.

It’s the late seventies, so that means disco and Donna Summer. She won an Oscar here for Last Dance from a film she appears in – Thank God It’s Friday. It’s like a crappy, Disco version of Slackers or Dazed And Confused. Last Dance is a simmering ballad that seems to be going nowhere until there’s a pause and the disco comes. That’s when the song really gets going, but for me it’s never more than just okay.  Hopelessly Devoted To You is the single entry for Grease – a little odd when there is at least one more obvious choice. It’s a pretty wanky ballad which starts out with that country twang I hate, then has a bit of the 50s ballad thrown in, then has a belting chorus by Newton-John – unsurprisingly it doesn’t work.

Both of the previous songs were big hits outside of the movies – our remaining options seem minor by comparison. The Last Time I Felt Like This is a nice, simple Mathis/Olivor ballad which starts promisingly but quickly becomes boring while Barry Manilow’s Ready To Take A Chance Again doesn’t start well but has a better chorus. Finally, The Magic Of Lassie is a musical about Lassie and Jimmy Stewart, with a lot of not very good songs. The Sherman Brothers know how to pen a hit, but When You’re Loved is yet another meandering, aimless ballad.

My Winner: Last Dance

Last Dance (Donna Summer song) - Wikipedia

My Nominations: You’re The One That I Want. Summer Nights. Greased Lightning. Copacabana. Ease On Down The Road. Caravans. Another Fine Mess. Bright Eyes.

Before we get to Grease, lets look at the other contenders – Caravans, from the movie of same name, is a much more interesting ballad than any of those officially nominated – an epic sounding folk song. Ease On Down The Road from The Wiz is a bit of a forgotten Michael Jackson song – a slice of Mowtown funk from before he truly hit it big as a solo artist. Another Fine Mess from The End is a much better ballad than those above – nice melodies, interesting shifts, good lyrics, and a good Glenn Campbell performance.

The only genuine contender here to Grease is of course Bright Eyes from Watership Down. It’s a haunting piece forever intertwined with visuals from the movie and is arguably the best song here. It’s not quite as iconic as those from Grease though, so that may have a bearing on what you select. Greased Lightning is cheesy rock’n’roll fun. Summer Nights is horny and fun, though I’ve never been keen on the actual vocal performance – it would be much better served without all the backing vocals and musical theatre crap – just do it right. What can you say about You’re The One That I Want? It was always played at school discos when I was young and it occasionally pops up in weddings I’ve been to – it’s fast, fun, changes tone nicely, its infectious, and is one of the most famous songs from the movies.

My Winner: You’re The One That I Want

Best Original Song – 1971

Official Nominations: Theme From Shaft – Shaft. The Age Of Not Believing – Bedknobs And Broomsticks. All His Children – Sometimes A Great Notion. Bless The Beasts And Children – Bless The Beasts And Children. Life Is What You Make It – Kotch.

You know you’ve entered the 1970s when you hear those opening cymbols and guitars from the Shaft Theme. As iconic a song as you’re ever likely to hear, I had the pleasure of seeing Hayes play it live. It’s a rarity for a movie such as Shaft to receive any notice from The Academy, but the quality of the music is unavoidable and it is a deserving winner. Now, just compare that with The Age Of Not Believing, a cynical attempt at cashing in on the success of Mary Poppins. The lyrics are good, but the music, melody, and performance are all dreadful. It is quite clear that the world has moved on from such songs when paired with Shaft. All His Children is another weird choice, a dreary old Country Western song that sounds ridiculous alongside Shaft. Bless The Beasts And Children is a long forgotten song and film, but in both cases it feels like they should be cult hits – a coming of age outsiders tale, and a gorgeous performance by The Carpenters over a fairly average song. Life Is What You Make It is a touching song from a touching film, but let down by that old style vocal performance I despise.

My Winner: Theme From Shaft

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My Nominations: Diamonds Are Forever. Theme From Shaft. The Candy Man. Pure Imagination. I’ve Got A Golden Ticket.

Joining Theme From Shaft is one of the most famous Bond songs. Diamonds Are Forever is timeless and iconic, and features one of Shirley Bassey’s most incredible performances, though my favourite part has always been the eerie intro. My final three picks are all from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory – film etched into the minds of every British person who grew up in the 70s or 80s. It was played every year in my school towards the end of term, and rarely a month passes where it isn’t shown on TV. The Candy Man may be the most famous track worldwide, due to various covers and popping up in The Simpsons etc. It’s a saccharine, juicy, light and joyful song. Pure Imagination is exactly as the name suggests, a wistful, beautiful song with a dreamlike quality which instantly transports you back to your childhood. I’ve Got A Golden Ticket is another fun, hook-laden track, a song of celebration and hope. The film has a number of other memorable songs, but these three are the strongest.

My Winner: Theme From Shaft.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Original Song – 1970

Official Nominations: For All We Know – Lovers And Other Strangers. Whistling Away The Dark – Darling Lili. Till Love Touches Your Life – Madron. Pieces of Dreams – Pieces Of Dreams. Thank You Very Much – Scrooge.

The official winner of 1970, For All We Know, is known more popularly thanks to The Carpenters’ version, but Larry Meredith’s original is just as lovely. Whistling Away The Dark is a vain attempt to keep the old Hollywood Musical tradition alive – it actually isn’t too bad a song and keeps the whining of old at bay – it’s melancholy and tearfully hopeful, haunting but doesn’t quite hit all the marks for me. Till Love Touches Your Life is a bizarre song for a fairly average Western, a song with a sprinting guitar line and with strings and vocals which swell as the song progresses. Many big voice vocalists have covered this one as it lends itself to huge gulps of air. Pieces Of Dreams has been a difficult one to nail down as so many people have covered it – it’s an okay song crafted by Michel Legrand but nothing special. Thank You Very Much is another average one, lyrics better than the music as it’s all about Scrooge being dead while he thinks he is being praised.

My Winner: For All We Know – Lovers And Other Strangers.

My Nominations: Something In The Air – The Magic Christian. Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat – The Aristocats. You Don’t Know What’s Going On – Joe. Suicide Is Painless – MASH. Crumbling Land – Zabriskie Point.

I have picked five different songs from five films separate from the official picks. Thunderclap Newman’s Something In The Air is a bit of a cheat as it wasn’t expressly written for any movie, but it features so heavily in The Magic Christian that it feels like it was written for the movie. Everybody Wants To Be A Cat starts slowly but features a breathless, barnstorming finish. You Don’t Know What’s Going On feels exactly like the sort of song that The Academy would nominate – it has an unusual, interesting flavour which hadn’t really been seen in movies before. Exuma’s performance is tribal and powerful, and the chorus is infectious. Suicide Is Painless (even though the Manic Street Preachers version is superior) is a haunting, tuneful, soulful ballad, and it’s a mystery why it wasn’t nominated. Say what you will about Zabriskie Point, but it has a pretty good soundtrack, with Crumbling Land being maybe the most interesting – a unique foray into Country music by Pink Floyd. It feels more like a typical late sixties folk song to be honest, but its strange rhythms and vocals make it memorable.

My Winner: Suicide Is Painless – MASH

Let us know in the comments which song of 1970 you would pick!

Best Original Song – 1969

Official Nominations: Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head – Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Come Saturday Morning – The Sterile Cuckoo. Jean – The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie. True Grit – True Grit. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life – The Happy Ending.

The winner this year is a timeless hit by Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis, one which evokes plenty of images from the movie it was written for, but one which works just as well outside of the film, even for those who aren’t aware the film exists. Charming, melancholy, and hopeful, it’s a well deserved winner. Come Saturday Morning, performed by The Sandpipers feels like a Simon & Garfunkel track, with gentle folk sounds and pleasant harmonies – acoustic guitars and flutes are prominent, and while breezy it lacks a a key hook.

Jean starts like one of those whining ballads from countless movies from previous decades, but once the verse starts it becomes something better. It does veer close to those awful ballads once the additional singing voices join, but largely stays clean, though again it lacks a hook – it also doesn’t seem to fit with the characters of Jean Brodie. True Grit also falls foul of almost striking those vintage notes, but again the vocals manage to raise the song above the unfortunate instrumentation – it’s a decent performance from Glen Campbell, Bernstein’s music is fine but once again there isn’t anything memorable. The Bergmans and Michel Legrand pick up another nomination and create another widely covered song in What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life – it’s a smooth ballad with sparse arrangement, an okay verse which gets worse as the music and vocals crescendo – more forgettable stuff.

My Winner: Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.

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My Nominations: Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head – Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Change Of Habit – Change Of Habit. Ballad Of Easy Rider – Easy Rider. Wand’rin’ Star – Paint Your Wagon. Get A Bloomin’ Move On – The Italian Job. Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Only My Winner makes it over to my list of nominations, joining one of The King’s last decent songs from one of his last movies. Change Of Habit is one of his better movie songs, funky, with a solid rock beat and strong vocal performance – no gimmicks and with a nice distorted lead guitar riff. It sounds both modern and like something you would expect to see in a late 70s US detective show. Great drums in the final section. As great as the soundtrack to Easy Rider is, most of its songs were not written for the movie and were taken from previous seminal 60s movies. Roger McGuinn’s track evokes all of the themes from the movie without the drug-haze. It has a timeless 60s folk edge, a sense of hope and freedom, and still feels powerful today.

Wand’rin’ Star from Paint Your Wagon is a strange one – it has all of the humming voices and guitars you would expect in a Spaghetti Western song, but it is given a grandiose all American twist with gorgeous strings and downbeat, growling, almost spoken vocal by Lee Marvin. Many will be put off by the vocals, but the melodies are still catchy. Adding some British groove to the mix is Get A Bloomin Move On, a painfully catchy track which I can’t love 100% because rhyming slang and Cockney accents piss me off – the song feels like a lost Beatles track with tonnes of varying, overlapping sections and a myriad of instruments and moments destined to chant at football games. Most people remember We Have All The Time In The World from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but I personally cannot stand that song and feel it is one of the most depressing dirges ever penned. I feel, even though it’s a little twee, that Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown is the vastly superior song – it doesn’t really have anything in common with the film (aside from snow) but it’s all lovely and the main line demands you to sing along. Of course it works well as a festive standalone song.

My Winner: Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.

Let us know in the comments what your favourite movie song of 1969 is!

Best Original Song – 1968

Official Nominations: The Windmills Of Your Mind – The Thomas Crown Affair. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. For Love Of Ivy – For Love Of Ivy. Funny Girl – Funny Girl. Star! – Star!

Unsurprisingly, Musicals make up the bulk of the nominations, but surprisingly a non-musical thriller picks up the win. The Windmills Of Your Mind, by Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman, and Marilyn Bergman merges the French New Wave cool with beach side 60s pop, the swaying melancholy melodies juxtaposed by the lightning fast lyrics and vocals. The win seems to be because the song is unusual and doesn’t have an obvious hook, but is nevertheless an interesting song and winner. Other artists would cover the song at a much slower pace – I’ll leave it up to you to decide which style is best. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is absolute nonsense, twee, grating, but still damn catchy. At barely a minute long it feels like it doesn’t deserve a nomination, but it’s pretty iconic and memorable. For Love Of Ivy feels like an early Motown-lite song, showcasing the increasing talents of Quincy Jones but it’s a largely forgettable ballad. Funny Girl is all about the performance, with Streisand giving it her all, but the song itself, while lyrically interesting, has nothing strong in either melody or innovation. Between Jimmy Van Housen and Sammy Cahn you would expect a big band, swinging song with a hook, but Star! is bland from a musical perspective. The lyrics are fine, but the song itself is just another by the numbers Musical standard with nothing to make it stand out.

My Winner: The Windmills Of Your Mind.

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My Nominations: Consider Yourself. Food Glorious Food. The Windmills Of Your Mind. Once Upon A Time In The West Theme. All I Needed Was The Rain. A Little Less Conversation.

While the songs from Oscar! may not necessarily be considered originals as they are the same as those from the Stage version, they had not yet appeared on film so that’s good enough for me. I’ve never been a fan of musicals, but both Consider Yourself and Food Glorious Food are such a part of British childhood that they are inescapable  – luckily both songs are good fun (but I despise those feckin accents). I may be cheating a little when I include the Once Upon A Time In The West theme, but its wordless vocals area again good enough for me – it’s a glorious piece of music. A Little Less Conversation became a huge hit over thirty years after the release of Live A Little, Love A Little with an awful remix which plagued TV and radio – the original is much better. Finally, another Elvis song from another Elvis movie – All I Needed Was The Rain from Stay Away, Joe – a blues rock drawl featuring thunder and dog howls.

My Winner: Once Upon A Time In The West Theme.