Man, Muppet, and Rio – Oscar Music in 2011

24 Feb

The One Ring to Rule Them All...Oh...That's not the ring from Lord of the Rings?

Ah, the Oscars, the culmination of the past year in cinema, adorned with obsessed fashion coverage, long-winded thank you speeches, and Billy Crystal (as much a part of the Oscars as the Oscar statuette itself). The awards show is easily bashed, but, let’s be real, it is the true acting award, and it’s hard not to take a peak at the telecast. The 84th Oscars will air this Sunday and it is very likely that an ode to movies created before the Stock Market Crash of 1929 may win Best Picture. While I have not seen “The Artist” (and trust me, I want to), I have heard from reliable sources that it is not only beautiful, but also it, even without a spoken word, makes you smile throughout.

But I’d like to focus this post on the music of the Oscars. Have you ever had a good idea a little too late? I had one of those earlier today. I would love to do a series on the Best Original Song category through the years, presenting my pick of the best original song winners of each decade, but I arrived to the show just before they announced Best Picture, so to speak. There is just no time to do this feature this year. Next year, though, watch out for it around this time (hopefully a week or two prior).

I will, though, feature the nominees for Best Original Song of 2011, and I will provide you with a little teaser of the string of posts I will do around a year from now. This year there are only two nominees for Best Original Song. The fight is between an animated animal party movie and The Muppets. “Real in Rio” vs. “Man or Muppet.”

Both songs come from light-hearted kids movies and feature colorful characters. “Man or Muppet,” despite how idiotic it seems on the surface, does present the conflict of identity and I like how the song actually does have some meaning, so I am going with that as the winner (and I think it will win). No offense to both of the songs, but this is a category that has seen some pretty awesome songs in the past, and this year’s small stock is weak.

The category was not an original Oscar award. It was installed at the 7th Annual Oscars in 1934, where “The Continental” by Con Conrad and Herb Magidson took home the prize for their song that appeared in the movie “The Gay Divorcee,” a movie that ends in dancing and features Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (one of the 10 movies they made together). Was this the best song of the 1930’s to win the award for Best Original Song? If you are up on your movie release years then you know this answer is clearly no. While it is a good song, and so is the 1936 winner “The Way You Look Tonight,” written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, which was also featured in a movie featuring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (“Swing Time”), it is not the best of the decade.

The 1939 Academy Awards featured a decent year of movies (I’d say). Best Picture went to a small featurette about the Civil War called “Gone with the Wind.” How about that movie starring that Iowa kid who was in a lot of Westerns. What’s his name again? John Wayne in “Stagecoach.”

And then there was the winner of the Best Original Score and Song category. A movie about a girl who just wanted to go home. Yeah, you know it.

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