Oscars Lowdown 2014: Best Original Song - U2 looks to upend Disney's 'Frozen'
In the lead-up to the 86th annual Academy Awards on March 2, HitFix will be bringing you the lowdown on all 24 Oscar categories with multiple entries each day. Take a few notes and bone up on the competition as we give you the edge in your office Oscar pool!
The Best Original Song category enjoyed a hell of a lot more attention this season than it likely ever has as "Alone Yet Not Alone"-gate was a blight and an embarrassment. Not entirely for the composer of the song, mind you, who waged a one-man email campaign to get fellow branch members to vote for the track, but also for the Academy, which decided that disqualified the song, making it the only instance of a nomination being revoked due to perceived campaign malpractice in the Oscars' 85-year history. Given what happens under the hood every single season, if the Academy wants to go down that road, they better not stop with "Alone Yet Not Alone" — but I'm on the record about this. In its wake, the four remaining nominees are a poppy bunch, mostly, and the whole thing has become more competitive than expected.
The nominees are…
"Happy" from "Despicable Me 2" (Pharrell Williams)
Honestly? My opinion? "Happy" is the best of the nominees. I hear the groans. But it's a catchy piece of music from an artist who knows exactly how to wiggle his way into your ears. I never tire of this track — which also, by the way, comes in the context of the narrative in "Despicable Me 2," which is helpful — and that's saying something for a tune that could have been incredibly annoying. Anyway, it's probably on the outside looking in at the big musical number, but don't sleep on it: the song was released to radio again and shot up the Billboard chart recently. It's in commercials. It's everywhere. I could see more than a few voters ticking off this box because they're besieged by the track as of late. (Check out our interview with Williams here.)
"Let it Go" from "Frozen" (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez)
But this one is sure to go to the big Disney anthem, despite some doozy lyrics like "the past is in the past." I kid. I may not have taken to "Frozen" this year but it has a rabid fan base that crosses generational lines, and "Let it Go" is going to be a hit from here to eternity. It's a call back to the kinds of songs that dominated this category years ago, whether "Under the Sea" or "A Whole New World" or what have you. It's iconic where the other nominees, admittedly, aren't (though I might prefer Mr. Freeze's version). That should go a long way toward securing it a win, but this is a pretty tight field this year, at least a three-way race.