Can Pharrell Williams or U2 beat Disney’s ‘Let it Go’ for Best Song at Oscars?

Pharrell Williams is on a roll. He was featured in two of last year’s biggest songs, just swept the Grammys with four wins and is now tearing up the blogosphere with a surprisingly versatile hat, which he even wore in his recent webcam chat with Gold Derby.  

And his Oscar-nominated tune “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” has topped the charts in over a dozen countries and is number two on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Yet not a single Expert or Editor or Top 24 User is predicting him to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Indeed, almost all of them have it their bottom two for the category. 

His tune is infectiously cheery in the vein of 2011’s winning “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets,” but it has odds of just 50/1 (as does “The Moon Song” from “Her.”)  What could possibly be standing in its way?

Let It Go” from “Frozen” is the heavy favorite to win this category, with the backing of 25 Experts, 6 Editors, 16 of the Top 24 Users and 80% of all Users. That support translates into leading odds of 1/4. This show tune as sung by Tony champ Idina Menzel (“Wicked”) is a throwback to the “Disney Renaissance” that domainted this category for a decade beginning in 1989. Indeed, songsmiths Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez even credit “The Little Mermaid” (1989) and “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) as inspiration. However, no Walt Disney toon has taken this category since 1999’s “Tarzan.” “Let It Go” marks the fifth nomination for the studio since then. Can this one break the losing streak when Oscar champs like Alan Menken and Randy Newman could not? 

In its favor, Disney’s campaign has been much more focused this time around. While “Frozen” was full of original songs, Disney pushed only “Let It Go” as a serious contender thus avoiding multiple songs from the film being nominated and splitting the vote as happened with  2009’s “The Princess and the Frog,” as well as Disney’s 2007 live-action “Enchanted.” “Let It Go” is also a popular hit, having peaked in the top 20 in the United States, although it is the one sung by Demi Lovato. That version sounds like the songs sung by young pop stars which the star-struck Golden Globes nominate, but that the snooty Oscars snub. Think Taylor Swift for 2013 and 2012, Carrie Underwood and Christina Aguilera for 2010, Beyoncé Knowles and Miley Cyrus for 2008.

While “Let It Go” won the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for Best Song, that champ has only gone on to claim the Oscar five out of 15 times. Last year’s title track from “Skyfall” by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth won both awards; if “Let It Go” prevails, it would be the first time ever that the Critics Choice got it right two years running. 

U2 won the Golden Globe for “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” Only four of the last 15 winners went on to pick up the Oscar as well, with many of these ditties not even nominated by the music branch of the academy. “Skyfall” won the Globe as well but it has been 13 years since the Globes matched the Oscars back-to-back. U2 contended in 2002 for “The Hands That Built America” from “Gangs of New York.” That song also won the Globe but lost the Oscar to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” from “8 Mile.” With two Experts, one Editor, six of the Top 24 and 15% of Users backing this bid, “Ordinary Love” has odds of 11/2. 

“The Moon Song” by Karen O and Spike Jonze from “Her” is the least well-known nominee. However, Karen O recently debuted a remix featuring Ezra Koenig, lead singer of the Grammy-winning rock band Vampire Weekend and released the song as part of an EP last week. “The Moon Song” is a soft-spoken indie rock duet about love with guitar, all qualities shared by 2006’s winner “Falling Slowly” from “Once”. 

Who do you think is going to win Best Song? Vote below using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Come back and change your predictions as often as you like till Oscar night, March 2. 

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