Thursday, June 4, 2020

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1992, Day Three: Original Song

Except for the recent phenomenons of "Shallow" from A Star is Born and the dance remixes of Frozen's "Let It Go", popular music and Oscar's Original Song category just don't have the same relationship as they did in the '80s and '90s. This year in particular: at the 36th Grammy Awards the following year, these same songs would compete against each other, and not just in the specialty categories for soundtracks. The Bodyguard's soundtrack won Album of the Year, Aladdin's "A whole New world" won Song of the Year, both competed against each other for Record of the Year (tho' The Bodyguard did so with the Dolly Parton cover "I will Always Love You" - and won), and, just like here, they made up 4/5 of the nominees for Best Song written for Visual Media.

OK, so I guess it was mostly The Bodyguard and Aladdin that dominated, but it's not difficult to see why. They're good songs! Actually, overall, it's an exceptional group of nominees, as you can hear for yourself:

Aladdin - "Friend Like Me"
music by Alan Menken
lyrics by Howard Ashman
Menken's seventh of fourteen Song nominations, Ashman's seventh and final nomination; Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Song

It's interesting that this is the show-stopper. You'd think "Prince Ali," but no, it's this number that introduces us to the Genie and his powers. Contains the lyric, "I'm on the job, you big nabob," probably my favorite line in the film.

Aladdin - "A Whole New World"
music by Alan Menken
lyrics by Tim Rice
Menken's eighth of fourteen Song nominations, Rice's first of five nominations; Golden Globe winner for Best Original Song

The lead single, the love song, the one I bet everybody knows, whatever your familiarity with the rest of the movie. It soars along with the carpet, capturing that light-headed rush of romantic possibilities. who wouldn't want to be, "Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky?"

The Bodyguard - "I Have Nothing"
music by David Foster
lyrics by Linda Thompson
Foster's second of three nominations, Thompson's first and only nomination

A key song in the film: it's the hit single from the character's film Queen of the Night, the basis for the threatening letters she's receiving. It plays throughout, most notably at a gala performance she gives in Miami. You've heard it, we've all heard it - in the movie and in real life, it was a hit! I think it's just OK...

The Bodyguard - "Run to You"
music by Jud Friedman
lyrics by Allan Rich
first of two nominations

The titular bodyguard watches the music video for this song, building the attraction between him and his client. And why wouldn't it - what bodyguard could resist his client singing about running into his arms...while running in slo-mo, clad only in translucent sheets? It is the song that defines this movie.

The Mambo Kings - "Beautiful Maria of My Soul"
music by Robert Kraft
lyrics by Arne Glimcher
first and only nomination; Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Song

Nestor Castillo writes this song - twelve different versions before he gets it right! - as a tribute for the love he left back in Cuba. I wish a man would write a song like this for me! It's romantic, sexy, believably sky-rocketing the Kings to stardom.


This going to be a very boring retrospective, I fear! For the third day in a row, I have to agree with Oscar's pick and give my vote to:


Tomorrow, let's see if I can shake things up in Best Supporting Actor: Jaye Davidson (The Crying Game), Gene Hackman (Unforgiven), Jack Nicholson (A Few Good Men), Al Pacino (Glengarry Glen Ross) and David Paymer (Mr. Saturday Night).

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