The Academy Award nominees were announced last week. Having a young child I don’t often get a chance to see any of the nominated movies (or actors unless they’re doing a voice in an animated movie). I tend to focus on the music nominees because they’re a bit more accessible to me. It’s always good to see Randy Newman get nominated, even if it’s for yet another bit of sentimental pap from a Pixar movie.
When you look at a list of the songs that have won an Oscar several things stand out. First is how many of them are from Disney movies. Second is how many of them have since become forgotten footnotes to musical history. Here are some of the most enduring Oscar winners, and some of the best covers of the obscure ones.
Dave Alvin And The Guilty Women “Que Sera Sera” (from The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956)
This is Dave Alvin with his all-girl backing band. You should see them if you ever get the chance, they rock pretty hard. They slip into an easy groove on the Doris Day classic.
Little Richard “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” (from Song Of The South, 1947)
Ah, the Great Lost Disney Movie. Song Of The South has never been released in its entirety in the U.S. on home video because the good folks at Disney thought that some folks might perceive it as racist. Clips from the movie, most notably this song, have been released on home video and I was surprised to learn that the movie had been shown in theaters as recently as 1986.
Edwin Starr “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” (from Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, 1969)
Edwin Starr is best known for his protest song “War,” but he delivers a rollicking R&B version of this song. It’s a nice change of pace from both the original and all the twee covers of it out there.
Ronnie Ong “Buttons And Bows” (from The Paleface, 1948)
I know next to nothing about Ronnie Ong, and I’m not happy about it. He’s got a great swinging Asian fuzz-guitar thing going on here that makes me glad to be alive. Why he picked this song is a mystery to me as well. Maybe he’s a fan of Dinah Shore, who had a hit with it in 1947.
New Found Glory “My Heart Will Go On” (from Titanic, 1997)
Celine Dion was everywhere in 1997, belting out this crappy song and melodramatically thumping her scrawny chest. After awhile I started to envy the people in coma wards who didn’t have to know about it. This is one of those cases where the song probably won because the movie made so much money, although honestly the other nominated songs weren’t such great shakes.