Calling all original song contenders

Posted by · 1:28 pm · November 1st, 2011

In four or five weeks we’ll be closing out this year’s slate of crafts category analysis via the weekly Tech Support column with my contribution to the cause: Best Original Song. I tend to wait until the end on that because it’s best to hold off until a list of eligible contenders is announced and in place and, of course, to gauge how the tunes are used in the films in question.

But I haven’t even gotten around to assembling a decent list of possibilities until just recently. So maybe it’s time to toss that out there and maybe ask for a little help from the readership, since I’m sure plenty of you know some things about this race that I don’t.

Let’s start with a few things to get the discussion going, though. And animated films are always a good place to look. With that in mind, 20th Century Fox’s “Rio” has a trio of contenders: “Real in Rio,” “Let Me Take You to Rio” and “Hot Wings (I Wanna Party).”

Disney has a couple of possibilities from “Winnie the Pooh” (“The Backson Song” and “So Long”), three planned submissions from “The Muppets” (“Life’s a Happy Song,” “Pictures in my Head” and “Man or Muppet”), two Elton John-penned tracks from “Gnomeo & Juliet” (“Hello Hello” and “Love Builds a Garden”), one from the documentary “African Cats” (“The World I Knew”) and one from Best Picture contender “The Help” in Mary J. Blige’s “The Living Proof.”

Add all that to “Collision of Worlds” from Pixar’s “Cars 2” and it’s safe to say the studio will be pretty busy with this category this year.

Next up, there’s Chris Cornell’s “The Keeper” from September release “Machine Gun Preacher.” It’s a closing credits track (which could work against it, given voting procedures), but a good song nevertheless. (Check out my two-part interview with Cornell here and here.)

Joining Cornell on the rocker front is Sigur Rós front man Jónsi, back in the race with “Gathering Stories” from Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo” after an initial brush with the category last year with “Sticks & Stones” from “How to Train Your Dragon.”

One of the more unique contenders in play will be the Alan Menken-penned U.S.O. number “Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Given its usage in the film, it could be a strong possibility for a nomination.

There are two original songs from the “Footloose” remake, as previously reported (“Fake I.D.” and “Where the River Goes”), while Sinéad O’Connor’s lovely “Lay Your Head Down” from “Albert Nobbs” (written by Glenn Close), despite being a closing credits track, could easily find its way to a nod.

Finally, Willie Nelson will be in the mix this year with “Hell and Back” (written by J. Ralph, who had a few tracks from “Wretches & Jabbers” in contention last year) from the documentary “Hell and Back Again.”

And that’s all I have on my list at the moment. But it’s an on-going project. Feel free to mention anything I should take note of. The list of eligible contenders should be revealed in mid-December and it always contains a fair share of surprises. Soon enough around these parts we should finally have the Best Original Song Contenders page up and running.

More refined discussion on all this in a month’s time.

For year round entertainment commentary and awards season news follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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