Elton John, Lady Gaga among pop stars snubbed in Oscar best song category
The consolation for Elton John, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Zooey Deschanel and other superstar pop, rock and country musicians who got snubbed in the best song Academy Award nominations announced Tuesday is that they’re in pretty stellar company.
With just two songs earning nominations —“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” and “Real in Rio” from “Rio” -- the list of also-rans includes a bounty of heavyweight performers and songwriters.
Yet they didn’t score enough points with Academy voters to make the final nomination list. Voters had 39 songs to sort through this year, for which they were asked to assign a score to each on a scale of 6 to 10 points, after viewing clips from each film that included the eligible song.
Only songs that received an average of 8.25 points or more could be nominated, with a maximum of five songs in the category, and no more than two songs from the same film.
Among the songs that fell short of that score were two Elton John songs from “Gnomeo and Juliet”: “Love Builds a Garden” and his duet with Lady Gaga, “Hello Hello.” Mary J. Blige’s “Living Proof” from “The Help” and Elvis Costello’s “Sparkling Day” from “One Day” were under consideration, along with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell’s “The Keeper” from “Machine Gun Preacher,” Deschanel’s “So Long” from “Winnie the Pooh” and Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am’s “Hot Wings,” also from “Rio.”
One of the most powerful songs to appear in a movie last year was J. Ralph’s “Hell and Back,” sung by Willie Nelson. But because it appeared in a documentary, director Danfung Dennis’ “Hell and Back Again” about the war in Afghanistan, it was a longshot for a nomination.
Country musicians with songs in mainstream hits didn't fare any better: Zac Brown was one of the writers of “Where the River Goes” from the remake of “Footloose,” and Brad Paisley was eligible, with co-writer Robbie Williams, for “Collision of Worlds,” from “Cars 2.”
And even being an Academy Award veteran was no guarantee of a nomination this year: Eight-time Oscar winner and 19-time nominee Alan Menken didn’t make the cut with “Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America.”
As others have noted, if this year’s Oscar telecast runs late, it won’t be because of a surfeit of nominated song performances.
-- Randy Lewis
Photo: Jason Segal, Amy Adams and Muppet pal Walter in "The Muppets." Credit: Disney