Songwriters explain all

Composers, lyricists recount how they made tunes fit films

Songwriters explain their thinking behind the words and melodies they penned.

Song: “I See You”
Performed by: Leona Lewis
Written by: James Horner, Simon Franglen and Thaddis Harrell
Key lyric: “I pray in my heart that this world never ends/I see me through your eyes/Breathing new life, flying high.”
Context: Plays over the end credits, melody is interwoven throughout the score.
In their words: “The indigenous (alien) Na’vi in ‘Avatar’ don’t say ‘I love you.’ They say ‘I see you.’ Which means ‘I see through you, I understand you and your aura,” says Horner.

Song: “Winter”
Performed by: U2
Written by: U2 (Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.)
Oscar pedigree: 1 nomination for best song
Key lyric: “Words will land on me/Then abandon me/Mangle, un­tangle me/Leave me on the floor.”
Context: Plays over end credits
In their words: “The song had to connect with the deep emotion of the piece without becoming overblown,” says the Edge, “We kept having to make the music less and less intense so that the vocal could really drive the song.

Song: “Smoke Without Fire”
Performed by: Duffy
Written by: Duffy, Bernard Butler
Oscar pedigree: None
Key lyric: “If I learned you weren’t the loving kind/I would have saved some peace of mind/My friends told me you would break my heart/And never last, we would surely part/There’s no smoke without fire/Baby, baby, you’re a liar.”
Context: Plays over end titles.
In their words: Speaking of the duplicitous womanizer played by Peter Sarsgaard and his relationship with impressionable Jenny (Carey Mulligan), Duffy says: “When you’re young and you’re lost, you want somebody to save you, and you want to cheat and be older than your years. I’ve probably been there once or twice in my life.”

Song: “Trust Me”
Performed by: Steve Tyrell
Written by: Marvin Hamlisch (music), Alan and Marilyn Bergman (lyrics)
Oscar pedigree: Hamlisch: best song: 8 noms, 1 win; score: 4 noms, 2 wins. The Bergmans: best song: 15 noms, 2 wins; score: 1 nom, 1 win.
Key lyric: “Trust Me/There’s an art knowing how to cut the corners/A trick to living strictly by your wits/And if they call you crazy/They won’t label you the crackpot with the jackpot.”
Context: Plays at end of the film as protag goes to jail, gets out and reflects on his life.
In their words: “We wanted the audience to laugh on the first line,” says Marilyn Bergman. Adds Hamlisch: “In my mind, I wrote the song for Frank Sinatra in a true ’50/’60s (Vegas) kind of way, as if he was saying ‘Hey baby! Are you eating that steak?

Song: “New Divide”
Performed by: Linkin Park
Written by: Joe Hahn, Brad Delson & Mike Shinoda
Oscar pedigree: None
Key lyric: Give me reason to fill this hole, connect the space between/Let it be enough to reach the truth that lies across this new divide.”
Context: Plays over end titles and is interwoven into the score.
In their words: “I was drawn to the idea that the main character, Sam, was on the verge of a massive change in his life; he had to make decisions about who he was going to be. Like many people, I can remember being in that same place,” says Shinoda.

Song: “Possibility”
Performed by: Lykke Li
Written by: Li
Oscar pedigree: None
Key lyric: “So tell me when you hear my heart stop/You’re the only one that knows/Tell me when you hear my silence/There’s a possibility I wouldn’t know.”
Context: Plays after Edward breaks up with Bella, as she secludes herself in her room reeling from the loss.
In their own words: “It’s about the true love you experience when you’re not yet jaded by your past. You still believe love is the healer to your numbness,” Li says. “At the same time it’s very destructive.”

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