We always look forward to hearing who's been nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards. It's by far one of the most interesting categories of the lot and, more often that not, presents a career-defining moment for the nominees, but especially the unheralded songwriters who've been toiling away in the music industry for years. Past winners include everyone from Annie Lennox and Melissa Etheridge to Adele and Three 6 Mafia. This year's bunch of nominees is just as eclectic and replete with noteworthy talents.
Music and Lyrics by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
The soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained got a jolt of emotional ballast thanks to "Who Did That To You?," the fiery hit performed by John Legend, who has sort of become the go-to man for tunes that speak powerfully to the Black experience on film. True to form, John delivers yet again on "Glory," a rapturous hymn (featuring sturdy verses from Common) off the Selma soundtrack, whose triumph at the Golden Globes recently has positioned it as the frontrunner in this competitive race. [A]
Music and Lyrics by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisobus
Keira Knightley channels the breezy vocal stylings of Colbie Caillat and Corinne Bailey Rae in rendering this indie gem off the soundtrack for Begin Again (costarring Mark Ruffalo), while making it entirely her own. Full of sprightly guitar riffs, haunting lyrics and sublime melodies, the tune fitfully examines the search for meaning in this circus called life, pondering "Are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?" [B+]
"Everything is Awesome"
Music and Lyrics by Tegan and Sara
[The Lego Movie]
It's zany quick-tempo beat is quite the pick-me-up. The middling lyrics not so much. Still, you can't knock the song's relentlessly optimistic vibe, in spite of its sunshine overload. Featured on the soundtrack to the whip-smart animated feature The Lego Movie, it has the energy, a bit of rock 'n roll edge and awesomeness to spare ― and brings out the kid in all of us. [B]
Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren
[Beyond the Lights]
If you're not a member of the Rita Ora fan club, her stunning vocal performance of the powerful pop ballad could make you a believer. At the same time, it only goes to show that celebrated songwriter Diane Warren (who has penned tunes for everyone from Whitney and J-Hud to Tessanne and Beyonce, as well as numerous other movie soundtracks) does have the Midas Touch when it comes to crafting memorable anthems that not only demand some measure of vocal prowess but ample emotional resonance amidst their exploration of life's multiple dimensions. [B]
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You"
Music and Lyrics by Glen Campbell
[I'll Be Me]
The late country legend is at the top of his game on this poetic and reflective ode to love and loss. Featured on the soundtrack to Campbell's internationally acclaimed concert feature I'll Be Me, the tune is at once simplistically gorgeous and unforgettable in its stark sense of an ending. [B+]
> OSCARS 2015: Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel lead the pack on road to Oscar night