A recent report in Variety looks at the most dubious and most annoying category, Best Song. Music expert Jon Burlingame goes through ten years and finds ten glaring examples of songs not nominated, including "Someday My Prince Will Come" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), "A Hard Day's Night" from A Hard Day's Night (1964) and anything from Saturday Night Fever (1977). The winner in 1977 was "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone from a movie called You Light Up My Life that has apparently been almost entirely forgotten. The list negelects perhaps the most glaring omission of all: Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" from Do the Right Thing (1989), which was not only a brilliant song, but also a key song in terms of the movie. (The winner was "Under the Sea," from The Little Mermaid, also a good song.)
The song category has long needed an overhaul. I suspect even the Academy members realize this; their choice of "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" last year smacked of desperation.
The problem is that no one really writes songs for movies anymore. Comden and Green and Porter are all gone. Nowadays, movies simply scoop up some recent radio hit, or hipper directors scrounge the record bins for unknown moldy oldies. The Oscars should allow these song selections to qualify for awards. I mean, "Be My Baby" wasn't written for Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973), but today they go together like turntables and beer bottles. Same goes for "Unchained Melody" and Ghost (1990) and "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Wayne's World (1992). And what about "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" from Pulp Fiction (1994)? That song was actually recorded for the movie, but was disqualified because -- as a Neil Diamond cover tune -- it wasn't actually written for the movie. (The same goes for "Mad World" and Donnie Darko.) Now that's small potatoes.
Better yet, why don't we eliminate this category altogether and leave it to the Grammys? We should do it soon before some "American Idol" contestant makes it and gets to put "Oscar winner" on their resume. That would be more than I could bear.