The Oscars are fast approaching, and among the prized awards set to be handed out at the Dolby Theatre on the 12th of March will be the best original song, a category that has been won by a host of unforgettable classics.
It is always one of the most eagerly awaited awards of the night, not least because each of the nominated acts will perform their song during the event itself, leading to some of the most memorable moments that have ever occurred during the running of the prestigious event.
What Makes a Great Movie Soundtrack or Song?
You can never underestimate the importance of a song and soundtrack when it comes to putting together a cinematic masterpiece; indeed, if you are an aspiring filmmaker, you may well be keen to pair up with musicians you may know to produce a track that is ideal for the story you are attempting to tell. Failing that, you can make good use of royalty-free music that could be the right choice for your production and one that won’t break the bank.
Often once a movie is over and you’ve left the cinema, it’s a tune, track, or theme that will linger in your mind and play in your mind. A great soundtrack or song needs to hit home in two ways.
Firstly, clearly, the track or soundtrack needs to be of superior quality, but more importantly, it needs to fit the film, and the relevant scenes, perfectly.
Some directors make great use of non-original soundtracks, such as Quentin Tarantino or Martin Scorcese, who frequently use existing material in ways that greatly elevate their masterpieces.
The use of original scores and songs is, arguably, a far harder nut to crack. There are some directors who frequently use the same composers to put together the overall score and may seek out other contributors for specific songs that fit the overall piece.
A song that suits a movie needs to do so on many levels. It will need to fit the pace of a scene and the overall vibe that the director is seeking to convey to an audience, and it’s an art form that is far tougher than you might at first think.
Top Six Best Every Oscar Winning Songs
For the purpose of this article, we are only looking at the original song winners, which doesn’t mean we don’t value the original score category, but just that it’s often the case that an individual song, rather than a long-running theme or score, really captures the attention of an audience.
Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Burt Bacharach and Hal David
This is an interesting one. On the face of it, the song doesn’t really seem to suit a western, but it has now quite simply become iconic as part of the overall feature film. By all accounts, star Robert Redford didn’t like the song, but even he must now understand the greatness of the tune and the way it adds to the excellent movie.
Take My Breath Away from Top Gun – Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock
There are occasionally songs that effectively will always only be remembered for the context within a film they are in. Take My Breath Away, performed by Berlin, is now synonymous with the original Top Gun movie and very evocative of the 1980s as a whole.
It’s not a song you might expect to have won an Oscar due to the fact that it’s incredibly mainstream and went on to become a massive hit, but you can’t deny that when you hear it, all you think of is Tom Cruise and a fighter jet!
Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer
This ranks in the truly unforgettable category. This classic, from the superb Breakfast at Tiffany’s, has been covered by many artists since its 1961 release, and it’s very interesting in the sense that the song doesn’t have a chorus.
It’s only a two-minute-long song sung by Audrey Hepburn for the movie, but one that perfectly illustrates the romance between the two lead characters. As well as winning an Oscar, it also picked up a number of Grammy Awards.
Can You Feel the Long Tonight from The Lion King – Elton John and Tim Rice
Interestingly, Elton John and Tim Rice would have known their chances of winning the Oscar for best original song in 1994 was very much a likely event. That’s because of the five songs nominated, three were from the Lion King soundtrack, and therefore they were always likely to pick up the statuette.
It’s a great song and one that was sung by Sir Elton John in the closing credits but covered by other artists during the film itself.
My Heart Will Go On from Titanic – James Horner and Will Jennings
Sung by Celine Dion, this song waltzed to the prize of the best original song and was one of eleven Oscars that the James Cameron epic won that year. The track went to number one just about everywhere in the world. It sold over 4 million copies in the United States alone and is one that will live long in the memory.
Lose Yourself from Eight Mile – Jeff Bass, Eminem, and Luis Resto
Given that 8 Mile, from late director Curtis Hanson, is effectively a biopic of sorts, Eminem was always going to be producing the music that his character would be performing, as well as the songs that appear on the film’s soundtrack.
The world-famous rapper took home the best original song for his excellent work on Lose Yourself, which quickly became something of an anthem and a massive success in its own right.