“I did not expect to get the nomination this year,” says Diane Warren about her Oscar bid for writing the song “Grateful” for “Beyond the Lights” (listen to our podcast interview below). “I was going up against artists and songs like Coldplay and Lana Del Rey, or Lorde, who did all the ‘Hunger Games’ songs … but would I like to win an Oscar? Yeah, of course. I’m getting to Susan Lucci territory now.”
That’s because this is her seventh nomination without a win. “Six-time loser, man!” she jokes.
Her first bid came in 1987 for “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from “Mannequin.” Then came a string of five nominations in a six year period (1996-2001) that started with one of her best known songs, “Because You Loved Me,” performed by Celine Dion and featured in the film “Up Close & Personal.” “That kind of opened the door to doing a lot more movie songs,” says Warren of that song’s effect on her career.
“Up Close & Personal” was produced by Disney, which led to more Disney productions for Warren and more Oscar nominations: for “Con Air” in 1997 (“How Do I Live,” recorded separately by Trisha Yearwood and LeAnn Rimes), “Armageddon” in 1998 (“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith), “Music of the Heart” in 1999 (the title song by Gloria Estefan and ‘N Sync) and “Pearl Harbor” in 2001 (“There You’ll Be” by Faith Hill).
Her nomination for “Grateful,” performed by Rita Ora, is her first in 13 years, but while she had no expectations of recognition for it, “there were other years in the last few years where I was kind of disappointed.” One such time was 2010, when she wrote “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” performed by Cher in the film “Burlesque.” That was the song that snapped her losing streak at the Golden Globes; it was her first win after five nominations.
Of that Globes win, Warren remembers, “I was so used to losing, I was sitting at the table, and I guess my name was called. I didn’t expect to win, so I just kept sitting there, and someone goes, ‘Diane, Diane, you won, get up there.'” But the academy didn’t nominate the song.
Despite critical acclaim, “Beyond the Lights” flew under the radar when it was released last November, and so has Warren’s song, which has been her one point of frustration in an otherwise celebratory experience.
Warren’s previous Oscar-nominated songs have been major hits for the artists who recorded them, and “this song should be like that,” she says. “It hasn’t been released as a single, which I don’t understand … If I was [making the decisions], I would be like, okay let’s get this out there, let’s get a video done. This is a mass-appeal song. It’s about being grateful for everything. Everybody in the world goes through hard times, especially now.”
Regardless, she’s enjoying the unexpected nomination alongside her fellow artists: “The nominees lunch was really fun. We’re all sitting there and I’m going like, four out of five of these people are going to be pretty bummed out in about two weeks.”
Do you think the seventh nomination will be lucky for Warren on Sunday night? Listen to our podcast below, then listen to “Grateful” and use our drag-and-drop menu to make your predictions for Best Song. Click here to enter or edit your picks in all Oscar races.