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