Thursday, May 19, 2016

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What a Feeling: Best Original Song, 1983

I'm so glad we finally made it to Best Original Song, because the 80s was the decade for this category. The confusing rule changes, terrible winners, and "huh?" nominations of recent years have called into question the legitimacy, the necessity of Original Song. But without it, we wouldn't have the power ballads and pop hits that have defined the last 30 years of karaoke.

Here's just a sampling of nominees, not even winners: "9 to 5", "On the Road Again", "Endless Love", "Eye of the Tiger", "The Power of Love", "Footloose", "Let's Hear It For the Boy", "Somewhere Out There", "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now", "Kiss the Girl". Songs that, when played amongst friends, cause the whole party to stop for a group sing-along. And I haven't even touched the actual champions like "Say You, Say Me", "Up Where We Belong", "Take My Breath Away", "I Just Called to Say I Love You", and so on, and so forth.

1983 gave us three bona fide classics, songs that have stood the test of time, tunes that everyone - old, young, straights, gays, men, women - knows most of the words to. Two of them come from Flashdance, the third highest-grossing film of the year, whose soundtrack took the top spot of the Billboard Top 200 two weeks in a row. The other one comes from Yentl, Barbra Streisand's surprisingly great directorial debut.

Oh, and the other nominees were another tune from Yentl and one from Tender Mercies. Shall we have a listen?

"Flashdance...What a Feeling" from Flashdance
music by Giorgio Moroder
lyrics by Irene Cara/Keith Forsey
Perfection. Not only one of the greatest tunes ever, but the movie's conflict, the heroine's inner monologue, put to song. Also suddenly becomes an actual song that exists within the world of the film, in the famous climax. Oh my God. Hello.

"Maniac" from Flashdance
music and lyrics by Michael Sambello & Dennis McCuskey
Like, what is with these narratively-relevant songs? You don't have to dig this deep, Flashdance! And must you also do them over brilliant character-building sequences? Jesus!

"Over You" from Tender Mercies
music and lyrics by Bobby Hart & Austin Roberts
Besides "Flashdance", my ear worm song from this year. Gets a great spotlight in the movie...sadly, we leave the scene, and performance, in the middle of it. I am surprised that this is the song that made it, since much of Macs arc rests in the performance at the end, but wattaya gonna do? Still love it, and still love that Mac listens long enough to hear his ex sing "I'll gladly be a fool in love again."

"Papa, Can You Hear Me?" from Yentl
music by Michel LeGrand
lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman
I know this is heresy, but I cannot fucking stand this song. Yes, yes, Yentl has a close relationship with her father, it's because of him that she studies the Talmud, la-di-da -- it's just such a long sit, and so dull! Would that this spot had gone to "No Wonder" or "Where Is It Written?"

"The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl
music by Michel LeGrand
lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman
Much better. Smart, erotic, beautiful. "There's no chill" - not at all, Babs, not at all.


Oscar made the right call. I concur that the winner is...

"Flashdance...What a Feeling"

Tomorrow: the trend of double nods continues, with only four films appearing in Best Actress: Educating Rita, Silkwood, Terms of EndearmentTestament. But we are spoiled with this murderer's row of talent: Julie Walters, Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jane Alexander.

And don't forget to tune in Monday as we reveal the winner of Best Picture!

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