A breakdown of the tunesmith contenders
“DOWN TO EARTH”“Wall-E” Music: Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman Lyrics: Peter Gabriel Oscar pedigree: Eight prior noms for Newman, first for Gabriel Awards to date: World Soundtrack Award; Golden Globe, Broadcast Film Critics and Grammy noms Placement: End credits Challenge: “The whole issue of the end credits was, we’re back on Earth and it’s still pretty bleak. Now what? Pixar decided to do a whole montage on how mankind restores itself,” says Newman. Resonance: “In a way, (the song is) kind of a rallying cry. (The result was) joyfully surprising.” Advantage: Fun, relevant song from Pixar film; animated-movie songs often win; could benefit from split “Slumdog” vote. Handicap: “Slumdog” juggernaut could wipe out its chances. “JAI HO” “Slumdog Millionaire” Music: A.R. Rahman Lyrics: Gulzar Oscar pedigree: First nom for both Awards to date: Broadcast Film Critics nom Placement: Bollywood-style musical finale in Mumbai train station Challenge: “Danny shot the song with another temp track. I could see all the moves and I figured out a way to sync it,” says Rahman. Resonance: “‘Jai Ho’ is like a blessing: ‘Be victorious.’ We felt that it would be the right thing, the right energy. He ended the film, and this was like an encore.” Advantage: Upbeat, infectious finale is like frosting on the cake of a feel-good movie. Handicap: Voters may not remember which “Slumdog” number is which, possibly splitting vote. “O … SAYA” “Slumdog Millionaire” Music and lyrics: A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam Oscar pedigree: First nom for both Awards to date: None Placement: Children playing on airport tarmac and subsequent police chase. Challenge: “We wanted to tell people that this is a film which is completely different from all other Indian films. We want to take you for a ride, in a positive way,” says Rahman. Resonance: “I heard M.I.A. three years ago; her energy was a surprise to me. So when Danny suggested M.I.A., I was very excited. I thought this was probably the right film to do.” Advantage: M.I.A. lyric and vocal make this the most contemporary sounding of the three songs, possibly appealing to younger voters. Handicap: See “Jai Ho”
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