This marks the first time that the five tunes in contention for Best Song are from films not nominated in any other category. In 2011, the two nominees — “Man or Muppet” (“The Muppets”) and “Real in Rio” (“Rio”) — were the lone representatives of their films with the former winning over the latter.
According to our exclusive Gold Derby odds derived from the predictions made by our 23 expert journalists, seven in-house staff editors, Top 24 users (those two dozen folks who did the best predicting last year’s winners) and contest entrants like you, Lady Gaga and Diane Warren are the clear frontrunners to win for “Til It Happens To You.” They penned the song for the documentary “The Hunting Ground.” Let’s take a closer look at that tune and its four rival nominees.
“Til It Happens to You” (“The Hunting Ground”): Music and lyrics by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren
This powerful ballad from the acclaimed documentary about sexual assault on college campuses could finally win Warren an Oscar after seven losses including for songs such as “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (from “Armageddon”) and “How Do I Live” (from “Con Air”). As for Gaga, this is her first Oscar nomination and comes at the end of an extraordinary 12 months for the pop star. She belted out “The Sound of Music” at last year’s Oscars to much acclaim, won her sixth Grammy (Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “Cheek to Cheek,” her collaboration with Tony Bennett) and surprised at the Golden Globe Awards for her lead performance in “American Horror Story: Hotel.” She has been everywhere over the past few weeks promoting the song. She delivered a memorable rendition at the PGA Awards and sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl.
Votes: 18/23 Experts; 7/7 Editors; 15/Top 24; 70% of Users
“Writing’s on the Wall” (“Spectre”): Music and lyrics by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
Although this was the first James Bond theme song to reach #1 in the United Kingdom (it peaked at #71 on the Billboard Hot 100), it has not come close to the overwhelmingly positive reviews for “Skyfall.” That 2012 title track by Adele was the first Bond tune to win an Oscar (it also won a Grammy and a Golden Globe). This song did win at the Globes and Smith is coming off four Grammys last year (including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for his megahit “Stay With Me”).
Votes: 4/23 Experts; 5/Top 24; 20% of Users
“Earned It” (“Fifty Shades of Grey”): music and lyrics by Ahamad Balshe, Stephan Moccio, Jason Quenneville and The Weeknd
Although many thought that “Love Me Like You Do” (the other “Fifty Shades of Grey” song in contention) would be nominated, the music branch went with this soulful song, which peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is up for three Grammys next Monday (Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song and Best Song Written for Visual Media). Rolling Stone ranked it 39 on its Top 50 songs of 2015. Although an accessible track sung by a well-known performer, it may have to overcome the stigma of being featured in Razzie-nominated film. But keep a close eye on this track as a possible spoiler, with many of our experts placing it in second place and Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood) predicting it to win.
Votes: 1/23 Experts; 5% of Users
“Simple Song #3” (“Youth”): Music and lyrics by David Lang
This song, a key plot point in the Paolo Sorrentino film, was written by Lang who won both the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy (Best Small Ensemble Performance) for “the little match girl passion.” It was performed by Korean soprano Sumi Jo in the triumphant final scene in which acclaimed composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) comes out of retirement to conduct his crowning achievement. Classical music only rarely makes an appearance in the Best Song category with the last such nominee arguably “Vois sur ton chemin” from “The Chorus” in 2004. Prior to that you have to go all the way back to 1998 and “The Prayer” from “Quest for Camelot.”
Votes: 1/Top 24; 5% of Users
“Manta Ray” (“Racing Extinction”): Music by J. Ralph, lyrics by Antony Hegarty
This tune bumped out such high-profile contenders as Critics’ Choice champ “See You Again” from “Furious 7.” It features in a documentary which follows conservation activists as they take action against the devastating effects that humans have had on wildlife worldwide. Ralph, who performs the song, wrote it with Hegarty, the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar (the first being Angela Morley, nominated as composer for “The Little Prince” in 1974 and “The Slipper and the Rose” in 1976). Ralph was a nominee in 2012 for “Before My Time” from the documentary “Chasing Ice,” which lost to “Skyfall”. The 2006 winner in this race, “I Need to Wake Up,” was from the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” while “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me” lost to “Glory” from “Selma” last year.
Votes: <1% of Users
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