Oscar Flashback: Best Original Songs of the late 2000s, including ‘Falling Slowly,’ ‘Jai Ho’

This article marks Part 24 of the Gold Derby series analyzing 84 years of Best Original Song at the Oscars. Join us as we look back at the timeless tunes recognized in this category, the results of each race and the overall rankings of the winners.

The 2005 Oscar nominees in Best Original Song were:

“In the Deep” from “Crash”
“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow”
“Travelin’ Thru” from “Transamerica”

Won: “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow”

Should’ve won: “Travelin’ Thru” from “Transamerica”

Let’s first get two things out of the way in 2005 Best Original Song – one, “In the Deep” is as dreary and heavy-handed as the picture it’s featured in and two, the sublime “A Love That Will Never Grow Old” from “Brokeback Mountain” should have had this prize in the bag. That it wasn’t even nominated is a travesty

With that said, 2005 Best Original Song is more an amusing curiosity than anything. It’s among that small handful of oddball years in which voters opted for fewer than five nominees, a result of the category’s idiosyncratic points system in voting. It’s also the year that managed to pit hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia against country superstar Dolly Parton. With the “Brokeback Mountain” song inexplicably on the sidelines, this race seemed like a virtual jump ball heading into Oscar night.

“It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” isn’t a bad winner and it’s featured in a strong picture to boot, unlike the other two nominees. There is, however, a certain cheesiness to the record that certainly wasn’t present in, for instance, “Lose Yourself” from “8 Mile” (2002).

Parton’s “Travelin’ Thru” isn’t an extraordinary piece either, nor should it be included in the top tier of her gigantic discography, but it is nonetheless a very nice toe-tapper, fitting for the film and come on – she is so overdue for an Oscar, having first deserved to triumph 25 years prior to this with “9 to 5” (1980).

Come back to the big screen, Dolly!

The 2006 Oscar nominees in Best Original Song were:

“Our Town” from “Cars”
“Listen” from “Dreamgirls”
“Love You I Do” from “Dreamgirls”
“Patience” from “Dreamgirls”
“I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”

Won and should’ve won: “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”

“Dreamgirls” is one of the finest American musicals of the past half-century, a rich, often exhilarating look back at a time when producers and their dazzling performers would crank out one two-a-half-minute mega hit after another, many of which proved timeless and still garner plenty airplay to this day.

Bill Condon‘s adaptation of “Dreamgirls” came with sky-high expectations – heights the picture ultimately didn’t quite meet. That isn’t to say the film isn’t without its great pleasures, including Jennifer Hudson’s dazzling, Oscar winning turn. But it doesn’t quite capture the magic of the stage production. The new tracks written for the film, all by Henry Krieger, don’t resonate nearly as strongly as “I Am Changing,” “One Night Only” or, of course, “And I Am Telling You.”

While voters didn’t go too head over heels for the film, ignoring Condon and looking past the production in Best Picture, “Dreamgirls” did manage a hefty three nominations in Best Original Song.

The best of the three tunes, “Love You I Do,” is a modestly enjoyable number, performed by the buoyant Hudson. While it’s hardly an A-grade song, it does at least ring of some middle-of-the-road Motown numbers, almost a filler Supremes or Martha and the Vandellas track. The bland “Listen,” on the other hand, doesn’t sound 1960s in the slightest, rather a run-of-the-mill ballad that could’ve surfaced on any Beyonce album. “Patience,” a nod to the great Donny Hathaway, is listenable but wholly forgettable.

Beyond “Dreamgirls,” this year boasted yet another Randy Newman nomination, this time for “Our Town.” Performed by the terrific James Taylor, it’s not half-bad – another example of a Newman-composed tune lifted by not having Newman perform it himself – but voters actually got it right this year. Even if the song is a tad too on-the-nose, Melissa Etheridge‘s “I Need to Wake Up” packs a punch. Is it on-par with something like “Come to My Window”? Not quite. But it’s still a nice, above-average piece of adult contemporary-rock.

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The 2007 Oscar nominees in Best Original Song were:

“Raise It Up” from “August Rush”
“Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted”
“So Close” from “Enchanted”
“That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted”
“Falling Slowly” from “Once”

Won: “Falling Slowly” from “Once”

Should’ve won: “Raise It Up” from “August Rush”

Even if “August Rush” is unbearably sticky-sweet, “Raise it Up” is an immensely pleasant surprise, a truly soaring and affecting gospel piece, performed by Jamia Simone Nash and the Harlem-based Impact Repertory Theatre. It’s a wonder voters recognized it, given both its lack of precursor attention in that awards season and the middling notices for the film.

“Raise It Up” gets an ever-so-slight edge over the winner here, the lovely “Falling Slowly.” Performed and composed by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, it packs a subtle, bittersweet punch.

“Falling Slowly” is also superior to the remaining three nominees, all from Disney’s ginormously successful “Enchanted,” a picture Amy Adams surely deserved an Oscar nomination for. Adams is an absolute delight to listen to on “Happy Working Song” and “That’s How You Know” but composers Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz aren’t operating at quite the same sky-high level as the picture’s leading lady here. She breathes tremendous life into the songs but there’s not a whole lot of magic there beyond her energy. The third nominee, “So Close,” isn’t performed by Adams (but rather Jon McLaughlin) and is a real snooze.

Too bad voters didn’t have the imagination this year to recognize any of the many uproarious original songs from “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”

The 2008 Oscar nominees in Best Original Song were:

“Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”
“O…Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire”
“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E”

Won: “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”

Should’ve won: “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E”

Welcome to 2008, yet another funky three-nominee year in Best Original Song. What makes 2008 a particular head-scratcher is there were certainly more than a mere three tunes worthy of recognition. The true best original song of the year – Bruce Springsteen‘s “The Wrestler” (from the Mickey Rourke picture) – inexplicably wasn’t even nominated, despite taking home the Golden Globe.

Instead of awarding The Boss, voters utilized Best Original Song to shower even more love on Danny Boyle‘s “Slumdog Millionaire,” which came out of nowhere in 2008 to all but sweep the year’s Oscars.

The winner in Best Original Song, A.R. Rahman‘s “Jai Ho,” is very much emblematic of the picture’s strength, a piece full of buoyant energy. Rahman’s orchestrations are pretty remarkable but the production overall becomes exhausting at a certain point. The other Slumdog song, “O…Saya,” doesn’t quite have that same enthusiasm but also is a little more nuanced.

More satisfying Peter Gabriel‘s lovely “Down to Earth,” which nicely compliments Disney-Pixar’s greatest film to date, “WALL-E.”

The 2009 Oscar nominees in Best Original Song were:

“The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”
“Take It All” from “Nine”
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36”
“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”

Won and should’ve won: “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”

Here is a case where voters got it right – “The Weary Kind,” composed by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett, is a nice, moody piece and certainly one of its more memorable parts of “Crazy Heart.” But is it even close to among the finest winners in the category? Not in the slightest – it’s simply the least bland of an underwhelming bunch.

“The Princess and the Frog” is mildly diverting, mostly on the basis of some of the vocal work (Keith David can do no wrong), but while Anika Noni Rose couldn’t be more charming on nominees “Almost There” and “Down in New Orleans,” these Randy Newman-composed tracks simply aren’t all that interesting or exciting. “Loin de Paname” is also pretty unremarkable stuff.

At least those three a tad more agreeable than “Take It All,” one of the original tunes composed for Rob Marshall‘s embarrassing film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Nine.” While performer Marion Cotillard is actually one of the picture’s more tolerable players, she’s so poorly directed in this scene and the tune is a complete dud.

Overlooked? Karen O. and Carter Burwell’s “All Is Love” from “Where the Wild Things Are.”

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The Oscar winners ranked (thus far):

1. “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
2. “The Way You Look Tonight” from “Swing Time” (1936)
3. “High Hopes” from “A Hole in the Head” (1959)
4. “Streets of Philadelphia” from “Philadelphia” (1993)
5. “Lose Yourself” from “8 Mile” (2002)
6. “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” from “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956)
7. “Mona Lisa” from “Captain, Carey, U.S.A.” (1950)
8. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from “Neptune’s Daughter” (1949)
9. “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life” from “Dirty Dancing” (1987)
10. “The Windmills of Your Mind” from “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968)
11. “The Way We Were” from “The Way We Were” (1973)
12. “Let the River Run” from “Working Girl” (1988)
13. “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (1969)
14. “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid” (1989)
15. “High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’)” from “High Noon” (1952)
16. “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from “The Lion King” (1994)
17. “Beauty and the Beast” from “Beauty and the Beast” (1991)
18. “I’m Easy” from “Nashville” (1975)
19. “You’ll Never Know” from “Hello, Frisco, Hello” (1943)
20. “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” from “The Harvey Girls” (1946)
21. “Fame” from “Fame” (1980)
22. “Theme from ‘Shaft’” from “Shaft” (1971)
23. “Secret Love” from “Calamity Jane” (1953)
24. “White Christmas” from “Holiday Inn” (1942)
25. “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)
26. “Take My Breath Away” from “Top Gun” (1986)
27. “When You Wish Upon a Star” from “Pinocchio” (1940)
28. “Thanks for the Memory” from “The Big Broadcast of 1938” (1938)
29. “Lullaby of Broadway” from “Gold Diggers of 1935” (1935)
30. “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” from “Song of the South” (1947)
31. “A Whole New World” from “Aladdin” (1992)
32. “My Heart Will Go On” from “Titanic” (1997)
33. “Flashdance…What a Feeling” from “Flashdance” (1983)
34. “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” from “Arthur” (1981)
35. “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006)
36. “Last Dance” from “Thank God It’s Friday” (1978)
37. “Colors of the Wind” from “Pocahontas” (1995)
38. “Falling Slowly” from “Once” (2007)
39. “You Must Love Me” from “Evita” (1996)
40. “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” from “Dick Tracy” (1990)
41. “Days of Wine and Roses” from “Days of Wine and Roses” (1962)
42. “For All We Know” from “Lovers and Other Strangers” (1970)
43. “All the Way” from “The Joker Is Wild” (1957)
44. “It Might As Well Be Spring” from “State Fair” (1945)
45. “The Last Time I Saw Paris” from “Lady Be Good” (1941)
46. “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” from “Here Comes the Groom” (1951)
47. “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” from “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” (1955)
48. “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart” (2009)
49. “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow” (2005)
50. “It Goes Like It Goes” from “Norma Rae” (1979)
51. “Born Free” from “Born Free” (1966)
52. “Never on Sunday” from “Never on Sunday” (1960)
53. “I Just Called to Say I Love You” from “The Woman in Red” (1984)
54. “Up Where We Belong” from “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982)
55. “Three Coins in the Fountain” from “Three Coins in the Fountain” (1954)
56. “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from “Mary Poppins” (1964)
57. “Call Me Irresponsible” from “Papa’s Delicate Condition” (1963)
58. “Evergreen (Theme from ‘A Star Is Born’)” from “A Star Is Born” (1976)
59. “Al otro lado del río” from “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004)
60. “Things Have Changed” from “Wonder Boys” (2000)
61. “Swinging on a Star” from “Going My Way” (1944)
62. “Into the West” from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)
63. “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008)
64. “If I Didn’t Have You” from “Monsters Inc.” (2001)
65. “You’ll Be in My Heart” from “Tarzan” (1999)
66. “You Light Up My Life” from “You Light Up My Life” (1977)
67. “Gigi” from “Gigi” (1958)
68. “Sweet Leilani” from “Waikiki Wedding” (1937)
69. “The Continental” from “The Gay Divorcee” (1934)
70. “Buttons and Bows” from “The Paleface” (1948)
71. “Talk to the Animals” from “Doctor Dolittle” (1967)
72. “The Shadow of Your Smile” from “The Sandpiper” (1965)
73. “When You Believe” from “The Prince of Egypt” (1998)
74. “Say You, Say Me” from “White Nights” (1985)
75. “The Morning After” from “The Poseidon Adventure” (1972)
76. “We May Never Love Like This Again” from “The Towering Inferno” (1974)

SEE Best Original Songs of the 1930s, including ‘Over the Rainbow,’ ‘The Way You Look Tonight’

SEE ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ is first Disney winner in Best Original Song

SEE Best Original Songs of the early 1940s, including ‘White Christmas’ and ‘You’ll Never Know’

SEE Best Original Songs of the late 1940s, including ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’ and ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’

SEE Best Original Songs of the early 1950s, including ‘Mona Lisa,’ ‘High Noon’

SEE Judy Garland classic from ‘A Star is Born’ loses Best Original Song to Frank Sinatra standard

SEE Best Original Songs of the late 1950s, including ‘All the Way,’ ‘High Hopes’

SEE Best Original Songs of the early 1960s, including ‘Moon River,’ ‘Days of Wine and Roses’

SEE Best Original Songs of the late 1960s, including ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’

SEE Best Original Songs of the early 1970s, including ‘Theme from ‘Shaft,’ ‘The Morning After’

SEE ‘Live and Let Die’ no match for ‘The Way We Were’ in Best Original Song

SEE Best Original Songs of the mid-1970s, including ‘I’m Easy,’ ‘Evergreen’

SEE ‘New York, New York,’ ‘Saturday Night Fever’ snubbed in Best Original Song

SEE Best Original Songs of the late 1970s, including ‘Last Dance,’ ‘It Goes Like It Goes’

SEE Best Original Songs of the early 1980s, including ‘Fame,’ ‘Flashdance…What a Feeling’

SEE ‘Footloose,’ ‘Ghostbusters’ no match for Stevie Wonder in Best Original Song

SEE Best Original Songs of the mid-to-late 1980s, including ‘Take My Breath Away,’ ‘Let the River Run’

SEE With ‘The Little Mermaid,’ Disney begins its domination in Best Original Song

SEEBest Original Songs of the early 1990s, including ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘A Whole New World’

SEE ‘The Lion King’ roars in Best Original Song

SEE Best Original Songs of the mid-to-late 1990s, including ‘Colors of the Wind,’ ‘My Heart Will Go On’

SEE Best Original Songs of the early 2000s, including ‘Lose Yourself,’ ‘Into the West’

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