Grammy battle brewing: ‘La La Land’ vs. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ pits Oscar winners against each other

The Grammys love their high-profile “moments,” but often some of the most interesting moments take place before the telecast. The upcoming 2018 Grammys may have one such fascinating battle as “La La Land” will have to compete against the “Beauty and the Beast” remake for Best Visual Media Song. “La La Land” was released in December 2016 while “Beauty and the Beast” opened March 2017, but the music from both films will be considered at the next Grammys because the recording academy’s eligibility year runs from October to September.

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“La La Land” and its songwriters Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are fresh off their Oscar win for Best Original Song for “City of Stars,” and they were also nominated for “Audition (The Fools Who Dream).” Does that make them the automatic frontrunner for the Visual Media Song Grammy? Not necessarily — Oscar winners have had a hit-and-miss record when it comes to the recording academy’s corresponding category. In the 21st century only seven Oscar winners for Best Original Song have also won at the Grammys:

“If I Didn’t Have You” by Randy Newman from “Monsters, Inc.” (2001)

“Into the West” by Annie Lennox, Howard Shore and Fran Walsh from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)

“Jai Ho” by Gulzar, A.R. Rahman and Tanvi Shah from “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)

“The Weary Kind” by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett from “Crazy Heart” (2009)

“Skyfall” by Adele and Paul Epworth from “Skyfall” (2012)

“Let It Go” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez from “Frozen” (2013)

“Glory” by Common, John Legend and Che Smith from “Selma” (2014)

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“La La Land” might be able to get both “City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” into the Grammy lineup. And they could potentially be joined by fellow Oscar nominees “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana” (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story” (J. Ralph and Sting). Justin Timberlake also contended at the Oscars for “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from “Trolls” (co-written by Max Martin and Shellback), but that song was released before the September 30 Grammy cutoff, so it competed in this past year’s race and won. That leaves at least one spot open, but the “Beauty and the Beast” revival could possibly even take two spots with its new songs “Evermore” and “How Does a Moment Last Forever.”

The songwriters behind “Beauty and the Beast” are lions on the awards scene. Alan Menken, who composed the music for the original 1991 “Beauty and the Beast,” returns to compose these new songs with lyricist Tim Rice (stepping in for previous “Beauty” songwriter Howard Ashman, who died in 1991). Menken has won eight Oscars, more than any person living. And Rice is a three-time Oscar winner.

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At the Grammys these two have been even more popular. Rice has earned five Grammys in his celebrated career, while Menken has won 11 Grammys and been nominated a total of 23 times. Menken’s haul includes five victories for Best Visual Media Song: “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid” (1991), the title song from the original “Beauty and the Beast” (1993), “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin” (1994), “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas” (1996) and “I See the Light” from “Tangled” (2012). Rice has won this category once, sharing the prize with Menken for “A Whole New World.”

The good news for Hurwitz, Pasek and Paul is that even if they lose Best Visual Media Song for their “La La Land” tunes, they’ll have other opportunities to prevail. Hurwitz has a good chance of competing for Best Visual Media Score Soundtrack. And Pasek and Paul could be coming off an Emmy win for “Runnin Home to You” from the TV series “The Flash,” which could give them a shot at the Grammys as well. Or they could win Best Musical Theater Album for the cast recording of their acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

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Do you think “La La Land” or “Beauty and the Beast” will win Best Visual Media Song at the Grammys, or will another song arise that will take them both down? Comment below, and join the discussion with your fellow music fans in our infamous forums.

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