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Friday, December 17, 2010

Time to listen and view some fantastic music!

Mark Evanier has a fascinating blog, particularly if you are interested in show biz. You can find it at

What follows is some of his commentary that leads into a video from YouTube that features the late Sammy Davis, Jr., and Steve Lawrence, two great singers and showmen. Notice the crystal clear lyrics, the great phrasing, and, of course, the absolutely beautiful music.

Excerpts from Mark’s comments:

To be eligible, a song must consist of words and music, both of which are original and written specifically for the film. A clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition of both lyric and melody must be used in the body of the film or as the first music cue in the end credits.

So does this mean a song under opening titles and credits is not eligible? If so, might that have something to do with the fact that almost no one does that kind of song anymore? Anyway, I was not aware that a song is not a song unless it has lyrics.

The "written specifically for the film" clause is why, incidentally, a stage musical transferred to the screen will often have a couple of new songs added. Either the composer wants a shot at winning an Oscar or the studio thinks it will help the box office if the film wins that award...or most likely, both. It's why they added "I Move On" to Chicago and why they added "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and a few others to Grease and why they added "You Must Love Me" to Evita and why they added "Surprise, Surprise" to A Chorus Line and why they added "Pet Me, Poppa" and "Adelaide" to Guys and Dolls and why they added "Mean Green Mother" to Little Shop of Horrors and why they added "Being in Love" to The Music Man and you get the idea. I think I read somewhere that before Dolly Parton agreed to appear in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas or Nine to Five, she insisted she be able to write at least one song for each so she'd have a crack at that Oscar.

What's interesting, of course, is that so few songs written for movies in the last few decades are familiar to us even if we've seen the films...and some songs we do know weren't even nominated. I'll bet more people know "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Life of Brian (a film which received zero Oscar nominations) than that year's winner, "It Goes Like It Goes," which was from the movie, Norma Rae. Most of you also probably know — and some artists still record — two songs which were nominated that year but lost: "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie and "Through the Eyes of Love" from Ice Castles.

At the Oscars the following year, Steve Lawrence and Sammy Davis sang a darn good medley of songs that were written for movies and which became part of American culture...but were not nominated. In fairness, a lot of these tunes were penned at a time when there were a lot of good songs in the cinema so they didn't necessarily go unnominated because no one recognized their appeal. Some years then, there were ten great songs but only five could be nominated. That has not been a problem in quite some time.

Watch, listen, and enjoy:

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