This year’s Oscar Original Song shortlist has recognized a number of tunes from Black narrative or documentary films, while at the same time kept up an Academy tradition of begin able to embrace a silly song. On Tuesday that specifically meant “Wuhan Flu” from Amazon’s Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and “Husavik” from Netflix’s Will Ferrell-Rachel McAdams comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga both made the first cut.
“Wuhan Flu” and “Husavik” follows in the tradition of AMPAS honoring such satirical tunes as “Blame Canada” from 2000’s South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and the Bret McKenzie-penned ditty “Man or Muppet” in 2011 from The Muppets.
There was a time during the late 1980s when the Best Song category felt like a top 40 list with Oscar winners like “What a Feeling” from Flashdance, “I Just Called to Say I Loved You” from The Women in Red and “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun. However, Music Branch rules looked to curb that and laud tunes that were truly sincere and inherent to the big-screen work at hand, i.e., second end credit songs were automatically disqualified. While the category hasn’t always been flooded with top 40 tunes of late, an adoration of pop artists prevails with winners such as Lady Gaga for “Shallow” from A Star Is Born, the Elton John-Bernie Taupin song “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman, and Adele’s 007 theme “Skyfall” from the same-titled film to name a few.
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This year’s shortlist’s embrace of pop and R&B artists is no exception including Christina Aguilera’s “Loyal Brave True” from Disney’s Mulan, Janelle Monáe’s “Turntables” from the doc All In: The Fight for Democracy, Mary J. Blige’s “See What You’ve Done” from the prison documentary Belly of the Beast, John Legend’s “Never Break” from the doc Giving Voice, and H.E.R.’s “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah.
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Missing from the shortlist: all of Sia’s songs from her controversial autism feature Music, which was nominated in the Best Feature – Musical/Comedy and Best Actress – Musical/Comedy (for Kate Hudson) categories at the Golden Globes. The movie was shot four years ago and reportedly received an extra $12 million in funding so she could amp up the soundtrack and make it more commercial; a move that has only alienated critics. The Globes also nominated the Andra Day-performed song “Tigress & Tweed” from The United States vs. Billie Holiday; that track is absent from today’s Oscar shortlist.
Take a listen below to all the shortlisted Oscar Original Songs:
Turntables, from All In: The Fight for Democracy
See What You’ve Done, from Belly of the Beast
Wuhan Flu, from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Husavik, from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
Never Break, from Giving Voice
Make It Work, from Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Fight For You, from Judas and the Black Messiah
lo Sì (Seen), from The Life Ahead (La Vita Davanti a Se)
Rain Song, from Minari
Show Me Your Soul, from Mr. Soul!
Loyal Brave True, from Mulan
Free, from The One and Only Ivan
Speak Now, from One Night in Miami
Green, from Sound of Metal
Hear My Voice, from The Trial of the Chicago 7
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