Tag Archives: Academy Award

A Music Review of Oscar

27 Feb

At around 10:30 p.m. yesterday I wrapped up my viewing of the Oscars. I bidded my family and the downstairs television adeiu, climbed upstairs, prepared for bed, and then sat in bed for another hour until Billy Crystal wished the audience a good night. Yes, if I truly wanted to end my watching of the show I could have easily not turned on the television in my bedroom, but I cite this otherwise useless mention of the movements of my previous evening to prove a point. The Oscars, even without having anything invested in them, is intriguing and entertaining – enough to make you watch (even with an early-morning train in the morning).

I was happy to see The Artist pick up most of the large awards (including the Best Picture award), because this ode to pre-sound flicks demonstrated a good-hearted nature and an ode to film itself (which is what the Oscars represent). The Artist also won for Best Original Score and Ludovic Bource, the composer of the film’s music, definitely deserved the award.

On Friday I predicted the winner of the Best Original Song category and, while there were only two choices (so I had a decent chance of picking the winner), I accurately picked “Man or Muppet” as the winner. And while I am happy for Kermit and Miss Piggy, I am most happy for this guy.

Bret McKenzie

 

As you can probably tell from the suit and the Oscar, Bret McKenzie won something last night. He was tasked to write music for the 2012 Muppets movie, and, as musical supervisor, he penned “Man or Muppet” and another four songs for the soundtrack. So why I am happy for Mr. McKenzie, besides the fact that we are both human and he achieved a feat of accomplishment. Bret McKenzie was one-half of “Formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo,” The Flight of the Conchords. The other half was Jemaine Clement. 

My friends and I first listened to Flight of the Conchords’ unique brand of folk/comedy when we were in High School. Their purposefully awkward interplay, catchy riffs, hilarious one liners, and surprisingly good voices, had us repeatedly watching Youtube videos of their performances. And while watching those videos I just knew that one of the duo would win an Oscar for a song about muppets. Just knew it. To celebrate Mr. McKenzie’s Oscar victory here is a song about business time. I’m sure he was wearing his business socks!

On to another Oscar note. Esperanza Spalding, who has recently come into notoriety with her Grammy for Best New Artist, performed a beautiful version of “What A Wonderful World” during the In Memoriam section of the Oscars. Spalding, who plays a unique brand of soul/jazz/fusion, is proficient on bass and in vocals. Listen to the version of the classic – which she performed with The Southern California Children’s Chorus – below:

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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