Songs from children's films have often done well in this category. The previous year, "Toy Story 3" won for Randy Newman's theme "We Belong Together." Songs from the animated films "Monsters Inc." ("If I Didn't Have You"), "Tarzan" ("You'll Be in My Heart"), and "The Prince of Egypt" ("When You Believe") have also won.
But a variety of styles and genres have also prevailed in recent years, from hip-hop ("Lose Yourself" from "8 Mile," "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle & Flow"), to country ("The Weary Kind" from "Crazy Heart"), to Indian ("Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire"), to folk ("Falling Slowly" from "Once").
The category has been in flux in recent years, with recent procedures dictating that a song receive a minimum score from voters in order to be nominated. (Last year, only two tunes made the cut.) That has been amended this year, and the Academy will once again nominate the top five vote-getters.
Among the contenders are "Suddenly," written by the composers of "Les Miserables" for its theatrical release; Adele's title song from the James Bond film "Skyfall"; and "Still Alive" from the documentary "Paul Williams: Still Alive."
A trio of songs from "Lawless" could be in the running, including "Midnight Run" performed by Willie Nelson, as well as "Fire in the Blood" and "Cosmonaut" performed by the Bootleggers and Emmylou Harris.