The 1939 winner, "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz, was not only an iconic performance from Judy Garland, it also was a pivotal scene in the film.
This article originally appeared on Mashable.com
We're in the final countdown to the Academy Awards, and everyone is making predictions about who will take home which golden statuette. There's no shortage of entertainment at the Oscars, from the Red Carpet fashion to the tearful acceptance speeches.
Of course, there's also the musical entertainment: the songs nominated for the coveted prize of Best Original Song and performed onstage at the Academy Awards. Before you tune in this Monday, take a look back at our selection of our favourite nominees and winners for Best Original Song (Spotify playlist is embedded for your listening pleasure at the end of this article).
The list of nominees for Best Original Song reveals just how much the movies have changed since the award was first presented at the seventh Academy Awards in 1934. Though only two songs were nominated in 1934, by the early 1940s the nominee pool had swelled to the point where it was normal for 10 songs to be considered for the prize. These songs were usually from musical cinema, and emblematic of the crucial role that music played in these movies. The 1939 winner, "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz, was not only an iconic performance from Judy Garland, it also was a pivotal scene in the film.
In the 1950s and 60s, the typical nominee pool shrank to four or five songs. Although musicals like Mary Poppins were frequently nominated, the nominees had already begun to look very different from the standard musical fare of the first half of the 20th century. By the 1970s, musicals had truly fallen out of fashion. For the next two decades, the songs recognised for the award were rarely sung by actors, rather, they were the songs that used music to enhance the action instead of propel it, as was the case with "Eye of the Tiger," nominated for Rocky III in 1982.
The 1990s marked the dawn of the golden age of Disney. Not only were Disney movies the heavyweights in nominees, but a Disney film took home the Oscar for Best Original Song six times in that decade alone. The entertainment giant recruited musical legends like Elton John, Phil Collins and Alan Menken to help them secure the accolades of the Academy. The start of a new century signalled a shift from this model, solidified with the win of the always-controversial Eminem in 2002 for "Lose Yourself," the theme from the semi-biographical 8 Mile. Despite "Lose Yourself" being wildly different from songs of 1940s musicals, the Eminem biopic was in many ways a 21st-century take on musical cinema's tropes. On the streets of Detroit, a young man uses his voice and his rap to lift himself up. With "Lose Yourself," the Best Original Song was once again part of the film's actual plot.
This somewhat surprising move was followed by the Academy continuing to award the prize to increasingly disparate films. The year 2004 saw the first win for a Spanish-language song, "Al Otro Lado del Río" from The Motorcycle Diaries. In 2005, Hustle & Flow's "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," was the second offering in the hip-hop genre to nab the Oscar. And in 2007 the winner was "Falling Slowly" from the indie film Once, which had been produced on a budget of $160,000.
The 2013 nominees include a James Bond theme, a Broadway musical number from Les Miserables and songs from Ted, Chasing Ice and The Life of Pi. Does looking back at trends in Oscar nominations give us any hint as to who will be the victor this year?
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