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Beyonce, Jay-Z, U2 and Ariana Grande Among Music Superstars Shortlisted for Oscars’ Best Song Nominations

FILE - In this July 14,
Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

The music shortlists for Oscar consideration, announced Tuesday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, might just be the most star-studded lineup in history.

Nearly all of the 15 songs on the list for potential nomination have been written or recorded by pop superstars, and the approximately 375 members of Oscar’s music branch are going to have a difficult time paring the list down to five best-song nominees.

The most interesting matchup involves spouses Jay-Z (cited for his song “Guns Go Bang” from “The Harder They Fall,” Jay-Z also serving as the film’s producer) and Beyoncé (for her “Be Alive” from “King Richard”).

Three songs on the shortlist are by past Oscar winners: H.E.R., last year’s surprise victor for “Fight for You,” has “Automatic Woman” from “Bruised” in contention; “La La Land” songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are co-writers of “The Anonymous Ones” from “Dear Evan Hansen”; and Jennifer Hudson is one of the writers on “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect.” Hudson could potentially be in the running for Best Actress come nominations morning.

James Bond theme “No Time to Die” — already a Grammy winner for writers Billie Eilish and Finneas — is a likely lock for a nomination. Songs from animated movies are always serious contenders, and this year they include Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto” and U2’s “Your Song Saved My Life” from “Sing 2.” Should Miranda go all the way, he would complete his EGOT with the win here.

Sparks has “So May We Start?” from “Annette,” Ariana Grande “Just Look Up” from “Don’t Look Up,” and Idina Menzel “Dream Girl” from “Cinderella.”

Music royalty from earlier generations who could snag nominations include Van Morrison for “Down to Joy” from “Belfast,” Brian Wilson for “Right Where I Belong” from the documentary “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road” and Carole King, co-writer with Hudson on the song from “Respect.”

Twelve-time nominee (thus far without a win) Diane Warren is back in the mix with “Somehow You Do” from the obscure drama “Four Good Days,” and the well-liked “CODA” is also on the list with “Beyond the Shore,” by veteran pop producer Marius De Vries.

Most of the 15 original scores on Oscar’s 2021 shortlist were predictable, including two by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood – “The Power of the Dog” and “Spencer” – and two by movie-music veteran and past Oscar winner Hans Zimmer: the sci-fi “Dune” and the 007 epic “No Time to Die.”

But this year’s list was also surprisingly diverse, including one woman and four persons of color: Mexican-American composer Germaine Franco was cited for her colorful “Encanto” score. Three African-American composers also made the list: Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe for “Candyman,” Jeymes Samuel for “The Harder They Fall” and Kris Bowers for “King Richard.”

The only other past Oscar winner to gain a spot on the list is Alexandre Desplat, for “The French Dispatch,” although four previous Oscar nominees are also included: Daniel Pemberton for “Being the Ricardos,” Nicholas Britell for “Don’t Look Up,” Alberto Iglesias for “Parallel Mothers” and Carter Burwell for “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Two period pieces round out the list: “The Last Duel” by Harry Gregson-Williams and “The Green Knight” by Daniel Hart.

Conspicuous by their absence: Nathan Johnson’s score for “Nightmare Alley,” which may have been unveiled too late for most voters to see; and two songs by The National from “Cyrano.”

Music-branch voters chose from 84 eligible songs and 136 eligible scores. Voting for the final five nominees in each category begins Jan. 27, and the nominations will be announced on Feb. 8. The 94th Academy Awards are on March 27.

The alphabetical lists follow. The Academy announced only the film titles and song titles, not the specific composers or songwriters.

Music (Original Score)

“Being the Ricardos”
“Candyman”
“Don’t Look Up”
“Dune”
“Encanto”
“The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun”
“The Green Knight”
“The Harder They Fall”
“King Richard”
“The Last Duel”
“No Time to Die”
“Parallel Mothers”
“The Power of the Dog”
“Spencer”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”

Music (Original Song)

“So May We Start?” from “Annette”
“Down To Joy” from “Belfast”
“Right Where I Belong” from “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road”
“Automatic Woman” from “Bruised”
“Dream Girl” from “Cinderella”
“Beyond The Shore” from “CODA”
“The Anonymous Ones” from “Dear Evan Hansen”
“Just Look Up” from “Don’t Look Up”
“Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto”
“Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days”
“Guns Go Bang” from “The Harder They Fall”
“Be Alive” from “King Richard”
“No Time To Die” from “No Time to Die”
“Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect”
“Your Song Saved My Life” from “Sing 2”