You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

In tune with Oscars’ best song nominees

Eye on the Oscars 2013: Music

After years of criticism about its often strange and unfathomable choices in the song category, the Academy’s music branch finally dumped its confusing numerical grading in 2012 and returned to the time-honored system of top five vote-getters as the nominees.

So, for only the second time in five years, five original tunes are competing. And the diversity is striking: one from a documentary, another from a romantic comedy, one by a mega-selling artist for an action pic, a new song written for a stage-hit-turned-film-musical, and a lullaby in an Indian language.

‘Before My Time’ from ‘Chasing Ice
Music and lyrics by J. Ralph

Only the third song from a documentary ever nominated for an Oscar, “Before My Time” appears under the end titles of Jeff Orlowski’s film about climate change. Explains New York-based composer Ralph: “At the end of the film, with this collage of images that encapsulated the entire experience, I wanted an aural journey, an abstract dialogue with nature, to help people absorb and reflect what they had just seen.”
Scarlett Johansson sings this melancholy ode with just a piano and the evocative solo violin of classical performer Joshua Bell. “I wanted to create this lyrical dialogue between humans and nature,” Ralph says. “There’s nothing more organic than a wooden violin from the 1700s.”

‘Everybody Needs a Best Friend’ from ‘Ted’
Music by Walter Murphy, lyrics by Seth MacFarlane

First-time nominees Murphy and Oscar host MacFarlane penned their song even before shooting began, per Murphy (who scores MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” and “American Dad” TV series) — from the point of view of the talking teddy bear.
They asked Norah Jones to sing it, as “one of the few people who can really sell this type of song in a pure, classic way, without gilding it ‘American Idol’ style,” adds MacFarlane. Murphy conducted a 55-piece jazz orchestra in a swinging arrangement. “When you have a film that edgy, it works well

to balance (the humor) against something classic sonically,” MacFarlane says.

‘Pi’s Lullaby’ from ‘Life of Pi’
Music by Mychael Danna, lyrics by Bombay Jayashri

film opens with a sweet, soothing lullaby, sung in the south Indian language of Tamil. Director Ang Lee “wanted to begin the film in this Garden of Eden, Pi’s birthplace, a childhood paradise ,” says Danna. “We wanted to get across, with the music, his mother’s love, this warm and solid place that feels like it will never go away.”
Lyricist-singer Bombay Jayashri is “a very accomplished classical South Indian, Carnatic singer. She’s also had some pop music experience and some hits, in fact, so she’s perfect. She’s got this voice that translates both Eastern and Western.” The lyrics make reference to some of the animals glimpsed in the opening.

‘Skyfall’ from ‘Skyfall’
Music and lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth

The only commercial hit among the five nominees, Adele’s soulful, soaring ballad under the titles of the 23rd James Bond film became only the fourth 007 theme ever nominated (the last time was “For Your Eyes Only” 31 years ago). Marking the series’ 50th anniversary, it hearkens back to the days of such Shirley Bassey classics as “Goldfinger” and “Diamonds Are Forever.”

Adele collaborated with producer Paul Epworth (they shared Grammys for their work on her best-selling “21” album) on both lyrics and music. “The song was so much about death and rebirth,” says Epworth. “It’s like two people having each other’s back when everything comes down around your ears.”

‘Suddenly’ from ‘Les Miserables’
Music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Director Tom Hooper came up with the idea of a scene as Valjean (Hugh Jackman) rides away in a carriage, having just saved little Cosette from a life of drudgery and abuse — “that unique moment,” says lyricist Boublil, “when Jean Valjean feels, for the first time, something he’s never felt before. It’s the discovery of love.” Jackman sings this hopeful soliloquy.
Adds composer Schonberg: “It’s a very simple song, with no sophisticated chords. I recorded the piano, and with orchestrator Anne Dudley, we did a small string quartet on it. We wanted it to be very simple and not overproduced for that first moment of tenderness and love between Valjean and the little girl.”

Eye on the Oscars 2013: Music
“Anna Karenina” | “Argo” | “Life of Pi” | “Lincoln” | “Skyfall”
Best Song

More Music

  • Obit Obituary Placeholder

    Nick Tosches, Author of Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis Biographies, Dies at 69

    Some time around the turn of the century, author Nick Tosches prankishly hacked his own online biography so that it gave his death date as the year 2021 — picked, he said, because “it was the anniversary of Dante’s death (in 1321); it made so much sense.” He wasn’t too many years off with that [...]

  • Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike

    Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike Take No. 1 Spot on Top 100 DJs Poll

    The duo of Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike top DJ Mag’s 2019 Top 100 DJs poll, returning to the list since taking the No. 1 spot in 2015 and dethroning Martin Garrix after three years of dominance. The results of the Top 100 DJs were arrived at from 1.3 million votes cast in 179 countries. [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Marc Byers

    Execs from Motown, Live Nation, Recording Academy Set to Speak at Culture Creators' Inaugural C2 Summit

    Culture Creators, the organization which recognizes minorities in film, television, music and fashion, is holding its first-ever C2 Summit on Oct. 21 in Washington D.C. Its mission: to engage, mentor, and provide recruitment opportunities to students of color attending historically black colleges and universities. Students were selected from an application process and will participate in [...]

  • Rami Dawod SESAC

    SESAC Toasts Rami Dawod as Pop Songwriter of the Year

    Camila Cabello’s “Never Be The Same” and “Electricity” by Mark Ronson and Silk City featuring Dua Lipa are just a few of the co-writing credits celebrated during an October 16 dinner at Nobu Malibu hosted by SESAC in honor of Rami Dawod. Named Pop Songwriter of the Year by the performance rights organization, Dawod is [...]

  • Luis Fonsi Erika Ender Latin Grammys

    The Second Latin Explosion: How 'Despacito' Ushered in a New Generation of Stars

    Music is an ever-evolving art, and for the Latin Recording Academy, that’s meant riding multiple waves of attention. The most recent arrived with the stratospheric success of “Despacito,” which kicked off a second Latin Explosion with full force in 2017. The Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit, later featuring verses by Justin Bieber, made Latin [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content