It’s been a good couple of months for R&B singer-songwriter H.E.R. She surprised us by winning Song of the Year at the Grammys on March 14 for her Black Lives Matter protest anthem “I Can’t Breathe.” Then on April 25 she followed that up by surprising us again: she won Best Song at the Oscars for “Fight for You,” another righteous song from the Black Panthers docudrama “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
H.E.R. was a Grammy favorite from the moment of her career breakthrough, earning five nominations in 2019 including Best New Artist. And in just three years she has amassed 13 nominations and four wins, two of which were this year, and both of which surprised most of our users who made predictions at Gold Derby: Best R&B Song for “Better Than I Imagined” and Song of the Year for “I Can’t Breathe” (which beat the presumed front-runner, Taylor Swift‘s “Cardigan”).
Now she has been recognized by the motion picture academy for co-writing “Fight for You” with Dernst Emile II (aka D’Mile) and Tiara Thomas — the same trio of writers who won for “I Can’t Breathe.” It’s the first Oscar for all three of them. “Judas” was nominated six times overall, which was the most of any film nominated in this category, tied with “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which contended for the song “Hear My Voice.” Rounding out the category were “Husavik” from “Eurovision Song Contest,” “Speak Now” from “One Night in Miami” and “Io Si (Seen)” from “The Life Ahead.”
Of those, we thought the academy would be most inclined to award “Speak Now” as a way to honor co-writer Leslie Odom Jr., who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for “Miami.” and “Io Si” would’ve given voters a chance to finally award Diane Warren with her first trophy on her 12th nomination. But there was no dominant, undeniable choice in the lineup like a “Let it Go” (from “Frozen”), so the door was wide open for an upset.
This wasn’t the first time voters gravitated towards an established music star. Other recent winners have included Adele (the title song from “Skyfall”), John Legend and Common (“Glory” from “Selma”), Sam Smith (“The Writing’s on the Wall” from “Spectre”), Lady Gaga (“Shallow” from “A Star is Born”) and Elton John (“I’m Gonna Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”).