Since the introduction of the Best Original Song category at the 7th Oscars in 1934, many toons have been recognized for their tunes. Indeed, the first appearance by an animated film in the category came just six years later at the 13th Academy Awards ceremony, when the timeless “When You Wish Upon a Star” from “Pinocchio” won. Songs from an additional dozen animated or animated/live-action films have prevailed since, including “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” from “Song of the South” (1947) and “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from “Mary Poppins” (1964).
The other 10 wins date back to 1989 and the start of the Disney Renaissance: “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid” (1989); “Beauty and the Beast” from “Beauty and the Beast” (1991); “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin” (1992); “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King” (1994); “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas” (1995); “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt” (1998); “You’ll Be in My Heart” from “Tarzan” (1999); “If I Didn’t Have You” from “Monsters, Inc.” (2001); “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3” (2010); and “Let It Go” from “Frozen” (2013).
This year, there is no shortage of contenders vying to be the 14th animated film to take home the Best Original Song Oscar.
Heavily favored for multiple bids is Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning star of “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,” who has co-written tunes for Disney’s “Moana.” Two tracks in particular – “How Far I’ll Go” and “We Know the Way” – appear poised to be serious contenders and could propel him to EGOT status. His collaborators on “Moana” are Opetaia Foa’i and Mark Mancina.
Illumination Entertainment’s “Sing,” a feature jam-packed with covers of classic songs, also includes a couple of original tunes. “Faith,” composed by Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco, is a duet by Oscar-winner Stevie Wonder and Grammy-nominee Ariana Grande. “Set It All Free,” composed by Dave Bassett, is performed in the picture by Scarlett Johansson, who in 2012 sang the nominated “Before My Time” from the documentary “Chasing Ice.”
Disney’s critically acclaimed box office smash “Zootopia” is a sure bet for a Best Animated Feature bid and could surface in Best Original Song to boot. “Try Everything,” composed by Sia, Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel S. Eriksen and performed by Shakira, is featured prominently in the film.
The best-selling song of the summer was Justin Timberlake‘s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” and it is eligible for consideration here as it was penned for DreamWorks’ “Trolls.” The infectious tune was co-written and produced by Max Martin and Shellback.
Never to be underestimated is a true legend of the category: eight-time Oscar champ Alan Menken. The composer, who also has 11 Grammys and a Tony Award under his belt, penned the original tune “The Great Beyond” with Christopher Lennertz, for Columbia Pictures’ raunchy “Sausage Party.” Columbia Pictures is mounting a serious awards campaign, with Oscar screeners recently sent out. This would mark Menken’s first appearance in the category since 2010’s “Tangled.”
Others in the mix include Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey for “Suis-moi” from the French animated picture “The Little Prince.” Grammy-nominated country superstar Blake Shelton penned “Friends” for “The Angry Birds Movie” soundtrack. And Eloi Painchaud has “Hymn,” crooned by Oscar favorite Celine Dion in “Snowtime!.”
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