Sunday, January 24, 2016

MY TOP 20 FAVORITE OSCAR-ELIGIBLE MOVIE SONGS (That Didn't Even Get a Nomination)

As Oscar time rolls around, my thoughts invariably go to all the movies I absolutely adore which never got the time of day from The Academy. But being that this blog is in itself already something of a chronicle of what a personal "Best Picture" nominees roster would look like if I were to hand out my own film awards (I'd call them The ANDYs, but that's already taken); I decided instead to list the Top 20 Songs from motion pictures I'd nominate in my own personal "Best Song" category. In this instance, not songs that didn't win, but songs that weren't even nominated.

I'm intentionally leaving out more well-known omissions like Kander & Ebb's "New York, New York" (New York, New York), "Pure Imagination" (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), "Staying Alive" (Saturday Night Fever), and "To Sir, With Love" (To Sir, With Love), choosing, as is my wont, to concentrate on oddities and obscurities I've loved since the first time I heard them. All personal, wholly subjective, all-time favorites currently on my iPod. 
Songs are not listed in order of preference.

Click on song title captions to listen on YouTube. 

1.
Film: Such Good Friends (1971)  Song: "Suddenly It's All Tomorrow"
Words & music - Thomas Z. Shephard and Robert Brittan. Sung by O.C. Smith
Played over the end credits of Otto Preminger’s overstated comedy-drama about a Manhattan wife who discovers her dying husband has had numerous extramarital affairs; this lovely, wistful song succinctly captures the feeling of dark clouds parting and the contemplation of a brighter future.

2.
Film: Ziegfeld Follies (1945)  Song: "This Heart of Mine"















Words & music - Harry Warren & Arthur Freed. Sung by Fred Astaire
This song wins out due to a confluence of reasons. It’s an entrancingly beautiful melody, Fred Astaire’s vocals are flawless, and it contains a lyric line which turns the waterworks on for me unfailingly (“As long as life endures, it yours this heart of mine”). They really don't write 'em like this anymore. The song begins at the four minute point on this video, but check out the 8-minute point to see what I call the “goosebump moment” wherein Vincente Minnelli’s eye for baroque romanticism and the heavenly dancing of Astaire and Lucille Bremer confirm just why dreams are what Le Cinema is for.

3.
Film: Xanadu (1980)  Song: "Xanadu"















Words & music - Jeff Lynne. Sung by Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra
Olivia Newton-John and ELO is the most inspired musical pairing since The Pet Shop Boys recruited and retooled  Liza Minnelli. Livvy’s heavenly vocals are a perfect blend with Jeff Lynne’s soaring orchestrations, the result: a pulsatingly infectious, smile-inducing title tune that ranks among my favorite songs of all time.

4.
Film: Raintree County (1957)  Song: "The Song of Raintree County"














Words & music - Johnny Green & Paul Francis Webster. Sung by Nat King Cole
I think I would like the melody of this touching, old-fashioned love song anyway, but Nat King Cole’s stirring vocals (that voice!) really make this delicate tune such a dreamy delight. 

5.
Film: Freaky Friday (1976)  Song: "I'd Like To Be You For a Day"















Words & music - Al Kasha & Joel Hirschhorn.  Sung by NOT Barbara Harris & Jodie Foster
Nominated for a Golden Globe but ignored by Oscar, this cute mother-daughter duet combines the catchy rhythms of classic TV sitcom theme songs with the lyric playfulness of nursery rhymes. A thoroughly charming arrangement and appealing harmonizing mystery vocals (they’re too smooth for Barbara Harris, too high-pitched for Jodie Foster) work in concert with clever cut-out title animation of the sort that was at one time a Disney trademark.

6.
Film: Emmanuelle IV (1984)  Song; "Oh, Ma Belle Emmanuelle"















Words & music - David Rose / Sergio Renucci / Marie Claude Calvet.  Sung by The Performers Band
OK, this one is a bit of a cheat. On two counts. First, Emmanuelle IV is a French film and would never be considered for a Best Song Oscar nomination, but I’m including it here because …well, the ANDYs are just like Emmanuelle herself: capricious, easy, and a little tacky. Which brings me to point number two; I love the this title tune, sung over the film’s opening credits (which also serves up a Penthouse magazine-worthy montage of actress Sylvia Kristel) because it is a sensational slice of French cheese. It’s actually rather sublime, really. Romantically lush orchestrations blend with an '80's Kenny G-like saxophone accompaniment, all in service of a vaguely Euro vocalist crooning an anthem of love to “new” Emmanuelle (don’t ask). Like a Serge Gainsbourg composition, it manages to be sexy, sleazy and romantic all at the same time!

7.
Film: Shanghai Surprise (1986)    Song: "Shanghai Surprise"














Words & music - George Harrison.  Sung by George Harrison & Vicki Brown
Nothing even remotely associated with this film got any love back in 1986 when Madonna and then-husband Sean Penn were successors to Barbra Streisand and Jon Peters as Hollywood’s most obnoxious couple. Too bad, for while I couldn’t stand the film myself, I’ve always been crazy about this title song: a cleverly rhyme-happy duet that's the equivalent of a musical flirtation. 

8.
Film: Macon County Line (1974)  Song: "Another Day, Another Time"















Words & music - Bobbi Gentry.   Sung by Bobbi Gentry
A lyrical, rather haunting melody distinguished by Bobbi Gentry’s easygoing way with lyrics that paint vivid pictures and tell a story. Considerably more graceful and affecting than the redneck exploitation film it was written for, I’m particularly fond of Gentry’s melancholy vocals.

9.
Film: Sparkle (1976)   Song: "Hooked on Your Love"
















Words & music - Curtis Mayfield.   Sung by Lonette McKee, Irene Cara & Dwan Smith
It’s doubtful the old coots representing the music branch of the Motion Picture Academy even knew who Curtis Mayfield was, let alone receptive to the outstanding R & B score he composed for the low-budget musical, Sparkle.  The Motown-influenced score is pure 70s soul (it takes place in the ‘60s)  and of the many songs I like, my favorite is this silky- smooth number with a pulsing backbeat. Aretha Franklin sang all the film’s songs on the soundtrack album, but check out the YouTube video - not only to hear the smoking-hot,  girl-group vocals of Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, and Dwan Smith,  but to check out the slinky choreography.

10.
Film: The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970)  Song: "Sweet Gingerbread Man"















Words & music - Michel Legrand, Marilyn & Alan Bergman.   Sung by The Mike Curb Congregation
The late-‘60s sound no one ever talks about is the easy-listening, inoffensive pop of The Ray Coniff Singers, The Jerry Ross Symposium, The Bob Crew Generation, and, the folks behind this sunshine pop ditty, The Mike Curb Congregation. While a whole lot of hard rock and rollin’ was going on, bands like these (often just studio singers) gently introduced older folks (and clean-cut young ones) to the New Sound.
Michel LeGrand was all over the place in the 60s, and this sugary pop gm was covered by Sarah Vaughn, Jack Jones, Bobby Sherman, and many others.
Almost unbearably cutesy and bubblegummy for most tastes, it practically screams “Sixties!” to me, and I have a decided soft spot in my heart (and most likely, my head) for this song. 

11.
Film: From Noon Till Three (1976)    Song: "Hello and Goodbye"















Words & music - Elmer Bernstein / Marilyn & Alan Bergman.   Sung by Jill Ireland
An elegant, lilting music box love song whose sentimental lyrics are simple but very touching to an old softie like me. Although just a little over 90 seconds long, it too, never fails to get the waterworks flowing. An instrumental version plays under the opening credits, the song itself is later sung by a character in the film.

12.
Film: There's A Girl In My Soup (1970)  Song: "Miss Me in The Morning"















Words & music - Mike D'Abo & Nicolas Chinn.   Sung by Mike D'Abo


This perfectly irresistible and utterly groovy bit of ‘60s fluff crosses Burt Bacharach with Herb Alpert and delivers a bouncy tune that feels as stylishly mod and British as a walk down Carnaby Street.

13.
Film: Across 110th Street  (1972)    Song: "Across 110th Street"















Words & music - Bobby Womack & J.J. Johnson. Sung by Bobby Womack
1970’s sophisticated soul doesn’t get much better than this. Womack’s hard-edged vocals work in discordant concert with the sweeping orchestral arrangement and funky downbeats reminiscent of the Philadelphia soul sound. A criminally infectious title song with a memorable musical hook.

14.
Film: Something Big (1971)    Song: "Something Big"















Words & music - Hal David & Burt Bacharach.  Sung by Mark Lindsay
As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to film composers, the 60s sun rose and set with Burt Bacharach (and the underappreciated but invaluable contributions of lyricist, Hal David). I am mad about all of his work, but this smooth title song to a perfectly terrible western swings with a bossa nova beat and Bacharach’s trademark syncopation and shifts in meter. Truly putting this song over for me are Mark Lindsay's (of Paul Revere and the Raiders) vocals, which really play up Bacharach’s amusing (and tres-groovy) habit of ending musical phrases on an “up” that sounds like a question being asked. A really good song.

15.
Film: Popeye (1980)    Song: "See'Pea's Lullaby"















Words & music - Harry Nilsson.  Sung by Robin Williams
One of Robert Altman’s most financially successful films is also one of his most unwieldy, the copious amount of drugs ingested by cast and crew while filming no doubt contributing to the effect. Harry Nilsson contributed many witty, albeit repetitive tunes, the best, as far as I’m concerned, being this winsome, genuinely stirring lullaby. An oasis of quiet in a chaotic film. 

16.
Film: Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)   Song: "In The Long Run"














Words & music - Rob Stone & Stu Phillips.   Sung by Lynn Carey
The very first time I saw BVD, even as I was sitting staring in open-mouthed amazement at what was unfolding before me, I seized upon this song as a standout. From those killer chords that precede the vocals to the overall MOR psychedelic vibe of the arrangement, this song is a winner. All-girl rock groups rule!

17.
Film: Carbon Copy (1981)  Song" I'm Gonna Get Closer To You"















Words & music - Paul Williams & Bill Conti.    Sung by England Dan Seals
I place Paul Williams up there with Burt Bacharach and Charles Fox as one of my favorite composers for the movies. The song played over the closing credits of this largely forgotten comedy, notable only for being Denzel Washington's film debut, and it hooked me immediately. Hook being the operative word. Like a commercial jingle, the bouncy arrangement, cleverly-rhymed lyrics, and light-as-a-feather vocals single-handledly elevated a so-so film into one I never forgot. Primarily because I liked this song so much.

18.
Film: Star Spangled Girl (1971)    Song: "Girl"















Words & music - Charles Fox & Norman Gimbel.    Sung by Davy Jones
Any fan of The Brady Bunch knows this song, but few know it as the theme to a flop Neil Simon comedy. Composed by fave-rave Charles Fox (Barbarella, Goodbye Columbus) to my ear it seemed exactly the kind of movie theme song that should have been a shoo-in had the 70s not been such an awkward transitional period for the Academy.
As it stands, Fox and Gimbel deliver a catchy confection of musical candy floss with this song, aided immeasurably by Jones' pronunciation of the oft-repeated central word, "girl."

19.















Words & music - Richard O'Brien & Richard Hartley.    Sung by Cast
This not-really sequel to the insanely successful The Rocky Horror Picture Show has grown on me a bit lately (especially in these reality TV times), but I thought it was a huge disappointment when I first saw it. I did however love much of the music, most favorably the title tune which rocks, harmonizes, is catchy as hell, and a great deal of fun. A rollicking ensemble song punctuated by the "Shock Treatment" lyric pause/hook.

20.
Film: The Touchables (1968)   Song: "All of Us"















Words & music - Alex Spyropoulous & Patrick Campbell-Lyons.  Sung by Nirvana (not that Nirvana)
I end my list with a song from a film made in 1968, the first year I actually started to pay attention to movies. It's also the year when hippies, flower children, and psychedelia flooded pop culture, making this trippy British import of a theme song a stand-out favorite because it couldn't have been written at any other time. This dreamy, slightly hallucinatory song plays over the film's equally far-out, James-Bondian/Maurice Binder inspired title sequence. Fabulous British '60s sound.


Everyone assumes the classic theme from Goldfinger (1964) was a Best Song nominee.
It wasn't even nominated!
"Chim Chim Cher- ee" from Marry Poppins was the winner that year

Do you have a favorite song from a film? One which failed to win or even garner an Oscar nomination? Would love to hear about it!


Copyright © Ken Anderson

63 comments:

  1. I'll wager this is the first time the words "Oscar" and "Emmanuelle" have appeared in the same sentence!

    I'm always baffled by the Academy's convoluted rules for the Best Song category. Some of the songs that have shown up as nominees over the years sound so dreary and downbeat, I can't understand how anyone who listened to them could imagine them being Oscar-worthy.

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    1. Ha! Poor ma belle, Emmanuelle! The longevity of that franchise is almost as staggering as that of the Fast & Furious (aka Dumb & Dumber) series.
      I so agree with youabout the selection process or whatever is used to select Best Song nominees.
      When I was a kid, I used to enjoy these segments of the Oscars because at the very least you'd get some lovely train wreck moment (like when Burt Lancaster, Sally Kellerman and others sang SCROOGE's "Thank You Very Much" in different languages) or something wonderfully camp (Isaac Hayes' "Shaft" turned into a variety show production number).
      I have no idea what they go for nowadays, the songs are indeed, dreary and downbeat, and it might just be me but they are forgotten even as i listen to them.
      I think I gave up on the category when between the 80s and 90s, those rote and routine songs fom Disney movies took over the category (and all those Randy Newman sound-alike songs) and Debbie Allen forever killed production numbers with her cruise ship garishness. Now they seem to nominate any high profile composer (Elton John, Bono) and let it go at that.

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  2. Wow, great post! Great songs!

    May be, the only reference I've heard to The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart since it came out. And even then...

    And as for "Girl", I've only seen Star Spangled Girl once I can still hear the song.

    May I add "Child of the Universe" (The Byrds) from Candy? And The Osmonds' (!) "Chilly Winds" from Pretty Maids All in a Row. How those Pepsodent-smile all-American boys were brought on to sing the theme to one of the more perverse American movies of the 70s I have no idea. But they always start singing in my brain when it's a summer day, and I'm feeling groovy in a very square way. That has yet to happen with "Talk to the Animals."

    Seriously though, "In the Run Long" really is a great, great song.

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    1. Hi Max
      Thanks! Your comment and contributions inspired me to add an addendum to my post asking people to name their favorite non-nominated songs. I love discovering new musical oddities from films.

      I took a listen to the songs you noted and Max, I have to say you have an uncanny ear for just the kind of 60s
      pop (you describe it perfectly "groovy in a very square way) that makes my ears perk up when i watch films from that era. I think I have found two new favorites thanks to you!
      And indeed, how the hell did The Osmonds get corralled into contributing a song for a movie that even I...in my infinite tolerance for bad taste...find too distasteful for my palate?
      I wondered that about The Sandpipers doing the theme to "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls"...were they in on the joke and did they know they were contributing an intentionally corny, saccharine, tongue-in-cheek song, or did no one let them in on it?
      Perhaps the story is apocryphal, but I'd read that Frankie Lane recorded the theme to "Blazing Saddles" in all sincerity, and had no idea it was a "take off" on the kind of song he'd built his career upon.
      Thanks, Max! And yes, at least to us, "In the Long Run" is a great, great song!

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    2. The Frankie Laine story is true! Apparently, until he actually saw the movie, Laine had no idea BLAZING SADDLES was a parody. He decided to take it in a sporting manner, especially because the movie gave Laine more exposure than he'd had in years.

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    3. I've always loved that story, so I'm glad to learn it's true. He certainly sings the song with conviction!

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  3. I mean of course, "In the LONG Run". I'm blaming that on the Osmonds.

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    1. Hee hee! The Osmonds are duly credited/blamed!

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  4. Around the time "Shock Treatment" was released, I'd gone to my first major science fiction convention. 20th Century Fox was there promoting it, "Quest for Fire", and Chevy Chase's "Modern Problems". They showed coming attractions for all three films, and I think the best way to describe "Shock Treatment"'s was a "sizzle" reel; since it's a musical, they ran segments from some of the songs, including "Bitchin' in the Kitchen", "Lookin' for Trade", "Look What I Did to My Id", and the title track. In my neck of the woods (South Bend, IN), the soundtrack album hit town about a year before the movie finally arrived so I knew that sucker up one side and down the other. Like many people in the theater, I was upset they didn't include the under-credits reprise of "Shock Treatment", which I finally got in a 15th anniversary (!) CD box set for "Rocky Horror".

    And like many others, I sighed in relief when they'd announced they'd fixed the warble during "Farley's Song" for the DVD release.

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    1. Hi Andy
      Thanks for taking me back in time and sharing your first exposure to "Shock Treatment". Like you, I always wanted that solo version of the title song on the original soundtrack, and was glad when it finally emerged. (I don't know about that warble thing in Farley's Song...have to give another listen!)

      You got a very nice introduction to the film and I'm sure anticipation was high by the time it played in your city. It fizzled so quickly here in LA, but I think a younger generation is discovering it and, less concerned with it being a deviation from TRHPC, are taking it on its own merits.
      The Oscar telecast was always noted for having such incongruous people singing the nominated Best Songs, I can only imagine they would have gotten someone like Neil Diamond of Pia Zadora to sing the title song for "Shock Treatment."
      Thanks, Andy!

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  5. Wow, Ken, what a crazy mix tape this list makes! I have to get a hold of some of these songs like the ones from "Such Good Friends", "Shanghai Surprise", "Sparkle", "There's a Girl in my Soup", "Carbon Copy", "Star Spangled Girl" and "The Touchables". I'm at work so I can't listen to them now but these seem like the stuff I would want to hear. I'm always on the look out for fun and groovy tunes!

    I've seen "The Touchables" and that was even almost too much mod grooviness for me and I love films with mod settings!

    The ones from your list that I've Heard are "Xanadu" (of course, love it!), "Freaky Friday" (cute), "Magic Garden..." (This one I got on LP. Really cute song), "Across 110th Street" (Classic), "Something Big" (Wonderful. I didn't know you liked Bacharach. Always classy.) and "Shock Treatment" (cheesy and fun).

    I have alot of soundtracks, many from the 60s on vinyl. My mind is melting trying to think of the best film songs! Meanwhile, may I recommend some easy-listening, inoffensive pop from the early 70s that I just acquired? It's by the The Group from the album "The Warm & Groovy Sounds featrung Vangie Carmichael".
    -Wille

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    1. Hi Wille
      you're right, this list is all over the map. And it was really hard to whittle my "love" list down to just 20.

      Yes, I'm a HUGE Burt bacharach fan. The soundtrack to "Casino Royale" was the first album I ever purchased.
      Sounds like your taste in movie music is pretty eclectic as well. I don't know anyone who had (or wanted the "Stanley Sweetheart" LP, so you get bonus points for that alone!
      And that album you recommended appears to be rarer than hen's teeth, availability wise. I was able to find a site that gives the track listings, and it seems right up my alley.
      I don't have any more of my vinyl soundtracks, but thank goodness for the internet, odd download sites, and ebay.
      Thanks, Wille. Looking forward to finding out if you are able to think of one or two favorites out of what must be a broad selection of choices!

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    2. Hi Ken, I have a few favourite film tunes from the 1960s: The theme from "Midnight Cowboy" by John Barry (the whole soundtrack is good), "Shape of Things to Come" (a tune from "Wild in the Streets"), theme song from "Smashing Time" (silly but endearing), Nancy Sinatra's "Tony Rome", the song from "Penelope", "The Party" by Henry Mancini, "Thru Spray Colored Glasses" (by Dino, Desi and Billy!), the Harry Nilsson songs from "SKidoo" and Marvin Hamlisch's "La la la" from "The April Fools" (terrible film but good music).

      Have you Heard "Malibu U" by Harpers Bizarre? It's from a TV show but I love it! Thanks for inspiring me to listen to these again and I will check out the suggestions from your list!
      -Wille

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    3. Well, let's see...of all the songs and albums you mentioned, there are only two I don't have: Malibu U and Thru Spray Colored Glasses. Our tastes in semi-cheesy 60s music is eerily similar.
      So, of course I think you choices are (to use the vernacular of the time) gear and fab.
      I like the Nancy Sinatra song a great deal as well as the Penelope theme. The Midnight Cowboy song is one I think everyone think DID get nominated, it was so popular.
      I like that so many of your choices are from odd films (no one ever remembers The April Fools). So many of my favorites. Thanks for following up, Wille!

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    4. Wow, Ken, your knowledge of cool film music is as extensive as your knowledge of films!! Then you must have heard the theme song from "The Ambushers" by Tommy Bryce and Bobby Hart. Great tune, ponderous movie...
      -Wille

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    5. Ha! I think you're just unearthing the fact that I was a terribly geeky kid and that i collected movie soundtrack albums while my friends bought Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan.
      And yes indeed I LOVE that "Ambushers" theme song. It was among the top 40 I whittled down to 20 for this post. It is a terribly silly film, isn't it. I'm always intrigued by Janice Rule in it. Not only does she look absolutely miserable, she outclasses everyone, talent-wise. I wonder if she had a mortgage to pay or something?
      By the way, do you know the theme to the 1970 Hayley Mills film "Take a Girl Like You"? Very groovy!

      https://youtu.be/-isWY_I_3w8

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    6. I must listen to the Hayley Mills fim tune. I have not heard it yet. I will check out all these great songs this weekend. Janice Rule looks miserable in "The Ambushers" because the film is horribly sexist and really beneath evryones talents, even Dean Martin's. I remember the way women are presented in it is embarrassing.

      Ken, do you happen to have a recording of Ann Reinking singing the Oscar nominated songs during the awards show in 1984? I've heard that it didn't go down so well. Did you see it then?
      -Wille

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  6. Hi again Ken,

    Sorry, I have to add one more title song. I know that smutty 60s comedies are a matter of (bad) taste, but "A Guide for the Married Man" by The Turtles is a must for any 60s playlist.

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Max
      A great addition! That song is a big fave of mine, too. A definite should-have-been-nominated entry.! I have it on my iPod and really love the aggressively 60s arrangement. Whatever that sound is, it totally hooked me as a youngster, and stayed with me.
      I saw the movie when it came out , and indeed...it seemed so smutty to me as a kid. Like "The Impossible Years", it's a movie I fairly loathe (but of course, that Cowsill's theme song for Impossible Years is one I have, go figure!)

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  7. This was a great way to expose us to some music that we otherwise may not have ever heard. I am obsessed with opening credits, so I'm always happy when a movie opens with a catchy or engrossing song. Many of these had completely escaped my notice before now. I always feel I have to hear a song twice through before I can truly decide whether I like it or not.

    I thought it was interesting that some of your favorites would be going head-to-head at Oscar time had they been nominated. Of course I had to look up the respective years to see what sort of things beat these out. The year of Fred Astaire's song there were about ten nominees!! (I didn't count, but it was a lot.) Some years the competition was stiff and you'd be hard pressed to eliminate more than one of the nominated selections while other times the nominated songs were mostly, "huh??" Xanadu is an amazing song which probably suffered from the backlash of the way the movie was greeted by the public. At that precise moment, anything with roller skates was suddenly OUT even though that had been fertile territory for a brief while. It seemed everyone wanted the soundtrack, but fewer people wanted to actually see the movie in theaters.

    One song I thought of during your parade of numbers was the Osmond song from "Pretty Maids All in a Row" but I saw it was already mentioned a time or two. My own personal favorite song of that type - one I've listened to probably 100 times since seeing the movie a couple of years ago - is "Sweet Love in the Beginning" by MC2 from the movie "The First Time." I simply can not get enough of it and even when I finally quit listening, I play it over and over in my head for hours!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlei_pD3FlU

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    1. Hi Poseidon
      Wow! I'm loving discovering these movie songs I've never heard of! And were I taking a poll or reader's favorites, that Osmonds song would have had two votes already!

      I had forgotten about the movie "The First Time" (I never saw it, I just remember wanting to, being a fan of Jacqueline Bisset).
      I've already loaded it up on my ipod...an instant favorite, being that the group sounds so much like The Mamas and the Papas.

      Cool to hear that you are obsessed with opening credits. When I was young, movies seemed to spend so much on these elaborate, animated or graphics-filled title sequences, adding to the whole "event" feel of going to the movies.

      In coming up with my list of faves, it occurred to me too (as you noted about "Xanadu") that the Academy tends to ignore flop movies unilaterally. Not taking into account that a poor performing film might have good costume design or a good score. Also, I guess in those pre-"screener" days it was hard for members to see movies that disappeared from theaters after a week.

      The Academy also seemed like tit took FOREVER to drag itself out of the Henry Mancini days. Movies with contemporary-sounding scores didn't get much appreciation. Xanadu and Saturday Night Fever were such odd cases because the albums went through the roof with the public, but the Oscar folks turned a deaf ear.
      Thanks for commenting, Poseidon, and alerting me to a new 60s song to add to my collection!

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  8. I've always liked The Association ("Cherish") singing the title song from GOODBYE COLUMBUS:

    Hello Life,
    Goodbye Columbus...

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    1. "Goodbye, Columbus" was a song that just narrowly missed this list. I think it was #21 or #22 (the theme to "Valley of the Dolls" was a close one, too).

      The way the song by The Association was used in the opening credits (Ali MacGraw's hypnotic slow motion swim) solidified it as a keeper. Excellent contribution, Deb! Thanks

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  9. I hate to monopolize the thread (Ken: "Oh no, not you Deb!"), but this topic has songs just popping up in my head. In THE LONG GOODBYE, Robert Altman put together a soundtrack that was nothing but different versions of the song "The Long Goodbye" (written, iirc, by Johnny Mercer and John Williams). Because it's a haunting song with a lovely melody, using it in a repetitious way really works.

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    1. That's wonderful if this post got songs running around your head. I saw "The Long Goodbye" many years ago, but I didn't realize (or remember) that the score was comprised of different versions of the title song.
      Altman did something similar with his movie "Th Company". In that film there were innumerable variations on "My Funny Valentine"...I never forgot that one, it is such a beautiful, small film.
      I took a listen to some of various "The Long Goodbye"s on YouTube. My favorite is Clydie King.
      Thanks for another amazing song suggestion!

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  10. Hmmmmmm... some of these songs... I'm not sure, no, I'm not at all sure. No matter. That's what makes a horse race. And a blog.

    The un-nominated song that stands out in my mind as one that absolutely should have been Oscar nominated is the film's title song for "Bye Bye Birdie." I know it doesn't travel out of the movie and would never charm the Academy, but it frames that movie perfectly, sets up the story beautifully, and the song (along with a treadmill) did a lot to make Ann-Margret a star. Most songs written for a film don't accomplish their goals as well as that one did or add as much to the final product. Few songs demonstrate the power a song can have over a property as well as that one does. The Academy members should have been a little more savvy in regards to that song. Though there was unusually strong competition in the song category in 1963, this song should have been nominated.

    I would also add to the list "Viva, Las Vegas!" Total cheeze, I know, but the damned thing cooks and cook and cooks. It has been covered again and again by artists all over the world from ZZ Top to Elvis Herselvis and it's, uh... staying power... is so great it was even used in a Viagra commercial. (Drum roll, please... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyMXahpRVV4 ) It has certainly had a larger and longer life than any of the nominees from 1964.

    And, yes, of course "Valley of the Dolls," should have been nominated. Everything Dory Previn ever did should be give awards.

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  11. Argyle, here. As always, a great list with lots of material I don’t know. Your passion for film and music is always apparent. In no particular order: I was aware of “Across 110th Street” as a song from a film but hadn’t really heard it until Mr. Tarantino appropriated it for "Jackie Brown" with Pam Grier which I remember as low-key and terrific. Sometimes he makes good decisions. I’ll have to look up the Bobbi Gentry song and will probably recognize it when I hear it; she’s so incredible. It was not instant love, but I have come to appreciate "Popeye" and its music and performances. I really love Shelley Duvall and “He Needs Me” and enjoyed how P.T. Anderson re-purposed it in "Punch-drunk Love" with your favorite Adam Sandler. Which leads me to the incredible music Aimee Mann did for "Magnolia" and how it was used in the film. It was nominated but lost to a Phil Collins song for a Disney Tarzan film. I also love how the theme song is treated in "The Long Goodbye" which reminded me that "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" has a Leonard Cohen soundtrack and needs to be revisited (by me.) I always love when a serious dramatic film has a lush, pop theme song - "Laura" springs to mind also “Nature Boy” from "The Boy with Green Hair." And although both films are problematical for me I love that Paul Schrader commissioned both “Call Me” and “Putting Out Fire” for his early 80's films. I love the way they kind of get you pumped up for sort of downer films. Also - Giorgio Moroder. I haven’t seen it yet, but it makes me hope that the new Todd Haynes film opens with a lushly orchestrated ballad “Carol... is the face in the moonlight...” or something. Don’t think it happens.

    On a lighter note, as kids we lived for the Debbie Allen choreographed medleys of nominated songs in those days and the sort of fruit-basket-turnover of who would sing what. I’m ready for that again - a Debbie Allen interpretation of the Sam Smith "Spectre" song sung by past winner John Legend maybe in a medley. Sometimes when you add cheese to cheese you get gold. Thanks, Ken!

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    1. Hi Argyle
      it's funny you mentioned Tarantino's "Jackie Brown." I'd read that it was one of his least-successful films, yet it's the only one of his movies I can say I enjoyed. And I liked how he used "Across 110th Street" in the film and likely introduced it to a generation unaware of it.
      For reasons well-documented here, I've never seen "Punch Drunk Love" (the Sandler factor), but I love Emily Watson and that song from "Popeye", so I've always been curious about it. people have told me it's the perfect Adam Sandler film to see for people who can't stand Adam Sandler.

      I don't recall the music from "Magnolia" but will check it out. You've listed a lot of intriguing songs and scores as your favorites. Debbie Harry's "Call Me" was one of the songs on my original top 40 list, although, perhaps like you, I wasn't so crazy about the film it came from.
      I know whatyou mean about Debbie Allen's Oscar numbers. She really wasn't doing anything different from those garish variety-show type routines they did on Oscar telecasts from my youth (The Theme from "Shaft" number is an all-time favorite), but by the 80s I think I was too old to appreciate it. Which you wouldn't expect from a guy who loves a movie like "Xanadu."

      I've seen the Oscars done tacky and I've seen them self-serious...if given a choice, I honestly prefer the tacky. Besides, it fits Hollywood's image much better. Thanks, Argyle!

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  12. There are so many you could add and my brain is shorting right now, but good on you for the Sparkle, Xanadu and 110th Street additions, all sound choices. While we're talking Madonna, why in the world arguably her best song, "Into the Groove," was not nominated is beyond me. Desperately Seeking Susan would not be the same without it. But oh well, "A Hard Day's Night" was never nominated, so what a club to join. For something a little more current, I love the soundtrack to Todd Hayne's Velvet Goldmine. While most of the glam rock songs are covers (of Roxy Music and Iggy Pop, to name a few), there are some songs INSPIRED by Bowie, done by Grant Lee Buffalo and Shudder to Think that really stand out and were integral to the movie.

    And for a song that maybe shouldn't have been nominated but you can't help but love, deep moans and all, how about Donna Summer's "Theme from the Deep?"

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    1. Hi Tanya
      What's great about hearing from all of you is being reminded of so many songs that slipped my mind. I'd forgotten all about"Desperately Seeking Susan", and I love the inclusion of "A Hard Day's Night" into this ever-growing list. The general sense I'm getting from it all is that there is such a wealth of diversity out there, yet the songs nominated these days all seem to sound so much alike.
      And a perfectly marvelous choice is your mention of Donna Summer's "Theme from The Deep"! (Certainly a choice no more unlikely than Oscar-winning "Hard out Here for a Pimp"...an opportunity missed in not getting someone like Celine Dion or Michael Buble to sing it on the Oscar telecast).

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  13. Dear Ken: Hi! You inspired me to review the list of all of the songs that have been nominated for "Best Song" over the years. I was surprised by how many fine songs I assumed weren't nominated actually were!

    One song that wasn't nominated that comes to mind for me is this gem sung by Doris Day from the 1949 musical "It's a Great Feeling." The title song was nominated, but for me this ballad is much better. James Garner once said that seeing this scene made him fall in love with Doris, 15 years before they actually worked together:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou_zA_JwxwM

    And I do love quite a few of the songs you listed above, including "Girl," "This Heart of Mine," "Raintree County" and "Xanadu."

    Incidentally, one song that actually won that I remember fondly was "Last Dance" from 1978. I recall that Ms. Summer hit the song out of the park at the Oscar ceremony and the audience went wild. It was great to see that the actual voters had chosen the song as well!

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    1. Hey David
      Thanks for calling attention to that terrific Doris Day rarity (rarity to me, I should say. perhaps Day fans know it well). It's a great song and i love the James Garner connection.
      Nice also to see with your mention of "Last Dance" Donna Summer has shown up in this comments section twice! Thanks!

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  14. That theme from "Two for the Road". "Close Enough for Love" from "Agatha". "The Boy Next Door" from "Meet Me in St. Louis". Several Doris Day title tunes: "Thrill of It All", "Send Me No Flowers", etc. The samba from "Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands", a Brazilian comedy.

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    1. The Mancini music from "Two for the Road" is a big favorite I overlooked (although for me the routine lyrics contributed by Leslie Bricusse feel outclassed by the lovely music), and Burt Bacharach's "Send Me No Flowers" almost made my top 20. The only one I don't know is the "Dona Flor" samba. Thanks for contributing!

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    2. Me again! Speaking of "Dona Flor," remember the Anericanized version, KISS ME GOODBYE, with Sally Field, James Caan, and Jeff Bridges? That title song was sung (beautifully) by the late, great Dusty Springfield.

      I'm loving this topic...so many great forgotten gems!

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    3. Hi Deb
      You are a wealth of good song suggestions! I do remember the Sally Field film but didn't remember the song. I guess I just disliked the film so much I blocked it out. After just listening to it and downloading it, I can't imagine why, it's great!

      And for anyone who likes Dusty Springfield, the Lee Hazelwood title song she sings for the Jacqueline Bisset movie "The Sweet Ride" is another oldie but goodie.

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  15. This is an intriguing list.
    I'd like to add that the entire soundtrack from the film "Walk Hard" is brilliant, as it analyzes and affectionately satires about 40 years' worth of American popular music. The title track, "Guilty As Charged", "Darlene", and "Black Sheep" are all brilliant, and any one of them would certainly have been deserving of recognition by the Academy.
    The fact that NONE of the songs from that film were nominated is especially egregious considering that it came out in the same year as "Enchanted", which had THREE songs nominated.

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    1. Hi Tracy
      Yay! Some one who actually knows the score to "Walk Hard"! I have the entire soundtrack on my iPod and indeed, the satirical takes on pop music through the ages are knowing and spot on. Thanks for the unique contribution to this list!
      By the way, the thought that a single Disney film garnered three best Song nominations in one year is as depressing as it is indicative.

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    1. Hi Gregory
      Oh, I'm fond of the film myself. Saw it the first day it opened at Grauman's Chinese and several times after. That being said...
      I think someone above liked "Popeye" too. Certainly no one could find fault with the absolute perfection that is Shelley Duvall's Olive Oyl.
      Glad to hear that you liked all of it though, from the boxoffice reception (not critical) a lot of people are in your camp. Thanks, Gregory.

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    3. Aw, No need to eat crow, Gregory. And you really didn't misread me, actually. I like "Popeye", but do find it unwieldly at the same time.
      But you've probably read enough of this blog to have picked up how I feel that the sharing of opposing views about a movie is just a matter of personal tastes,subjective opinion, and individual preference. No one can lay claim to be making a factual statement about a film's value, so no film is ever maligned or in need of defending. That's why I find reader's comments here so much more interesting and informative than say, IMDB, where they just bicker.

      And yes, kudos to Deb for remembering the Magic Christian score. As for the oversight of "Goldfinger" I haven't checked the Oscar competition that year, but based on the popularity of that song at the time, I hope it was pretty stiff. Thanks, Gregory.

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  17. Love your list! Thrilled that you included "Something Big" and "Hello and Goodbye"--two songs that I remember liking but haven't heard in DECADES! (I will have to check out some of the other songs you listed that I'm unfamiliar with--but your descriptions--e.g., "utterly groovy bit of ‘60s fluff"--make them sound like "my cup of tea"!)
    I'd like say "ditto" on "Send Me No Flowers," "Putting Out Fire," and other omissions that have already been mentioned. Would also like to add another tune that I think should have at least been nominated--"Love With All the Trimmings" from "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever." Babs does a great job on this one--and, while I'm sorry that most of the terrific Broadway score was jettisoned for the movie version of "Clear Day," this song is, for me, one of the highlights of this poor film. (Of course, if it had been nominated, we might have missed the "spectacle" of Lancaster, Kellerman et al. singing that lousy song from "Scrooge"!)

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    1. Hi Beef,
      Thank you very much! Perhaps you will find more songs on this odd list to your like, for "Love With All the Trimmings" was a song that almost made this list (I started with 40 songs and narrowed it down to 20).
      I think it's a perfectly wonderful song.
      When I first heard it as a youngster, I was impressed how sexy and suggestively Babs sang it in this almost antiseptically sexless film. I liked it from the start (and who could forget that scene!)
      Rather impressed you even KNOW "something big" and "Hello & Goodbye", but even more so that you are familiar with my Oscar show performance reference and that "Scrooge" number.
      Thanks so much for commenting and for contributing a song I harbored no hopes of anyone remembering but me.

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  18. Hi Ken ,what an interesting topic!
    My selections would be: the gorgeous "Can You Read My Mind" from SUPERMAN (everytime I watch the film, whether it's played as underscore or when Margot Kidder recites it - it's goosebump time). As a matter of fact, I'd have wanted to see SUPERMAN nominated for Best Picture (but as you said - that's a whole other topic!)

    I would also pick the beautiful "Lovely Lonely Man" from CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (although I can't complain, the title song was nominated and it's one of my favorite movies - so atleast it got something!)

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    1. Hi Michael
      Yes! It's been so fascinating hearing what movie songs people have found to be memorable. you stumped me there with "Can you Read My Mind" - that's a song I would have sworn WAS nominated for an Oscar! It's always like that with a film song that gets a lot of radio airplay.

      That's a really terrific song, as is "Lovely Lonely Man" (a lot of good songs in that musical, my partner's favorite being the comical "Chuchi Face").
      Thanks so much for adding to this increasingly eclectic list, Michael!

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  19. Thanks Ken! Yes, those two songs are very beautiful. Isn't "Chu-Chi Face a hoot????

    I agree with you COMPLETELY on “Pure Imagination” – that song is absolutely beautiful, I love the way it’s staged, and I love the sentiment. Walter Scharf’s arrangement is perfect.

    I also agree on the XANADU song – in fact, “Magic” and “Suddenly” could have been worthy too.

    I’m actually surprised that “Something Good”, added to THE SOUND OF MUSIC wasn’t nominated!

    Take care, and thanks for another wonderful topic!!


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  20. Last one (promise!): Badfinger's "Carry On Till Tomorrow" from THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN, a real piece of late-sixties hippie delirium with Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. Here's the opening sequence with the song in the background:

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2yWb3e5gZ0E

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  21. Don't concern yourself with how often you post. As evident from a comment above you might be mentioning someone's favorite song or calling attention to a potential one for someone else! Think of it as public service.
    I bought the soundtrack to The Magic Christian back when "Come and Get It" was being played on the radio. I love "Carry On Till Tomorrow" ...excellent choice!

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  22. More MAGIC CHRISTIAN fans! How wonderful. The movie hasn't aged well--but as a late-sixties time capsule, it's amazing. I too had the soundtrack (lost to the mists of time--and wherever vinyl goes to die--sadly), but the other song in the movie that I just loved was a real rocker, ROCK OF AGES (which features in one of the movie's trippiest scenes). It's similar in structure to the Beatles' BACK IN THE USSR--which isn't surprising as I think Paul MacCartney produced (and may have co-written) it. Certainly I think that's Paul in the background singing the "Whoo-Hooos".

    It's great to know I'm not alone in my affection for TMC and its soundtrack.

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    1. Hi Deb
      You're right about the movie having not aged too well, but the music is a delight, and I remember when that album was always on display in the record shops. Paul McCartney's involvement was a big selling point. I have it on my iPod, and your mentioning it inspired me to give it another listen. Good stuff!

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  23. Awesome to see a little love for Doris Day and her bouncy rendition of Send Me No Flowers. I also love all those gooey, lush songs from various romantic melodramas such as Imitation of Life by Earl Grant or Katherine's Theme (from Of Love and Desire) by Sammy Davis Jr. and the not-so-gooey, but fun, Love Has Many Faces by Nancy Wilson. Four such songs that actually were nominated are Written on the Wind by The Four Aces, An Affair to Remember by Vic Damone, The Best of Everything by Johnny Mathis and Where Love Has Gone by Jack Jones.

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    1. It's true...there are so many enjoyable songs from some of those old movies. Imitation of Life is a favorite, but I'm going to have to check on "Of Love & Desire" (I'm loving discovering all these new songs!).
      it's all such a lottery-draw what gets nominated, but sometimes it seems that a flop film or small-budget film never has a chance.

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  24. Sorry, Ken. I have to add a couple more. I was on the subway this morning and I realized my iPod is pretty much a portable jukebox of movie vocal themes. I thought, how could I forget (!?) Tom Jones' Promise Her Anything, and, from the soundtrack of one of my favorite films, Privilege, Paul Jones' Free Me, Jerusalem, the title song, and I've Been a Bad Bad Boy (in the film, but Jones may have recorded it for an earlier album...not sure). Thanks for allowing me a little more space, Ken!

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    1. hi Max, no need to apologize...trust me, i keep thinking of new songs myself.
      I am mad about the Tom Jones song and do have that on my iPod, but I don't know any of the others, so I get to make another YouTube trek to hopefully find a new favorite. you guys are all so terrific for expanding my original list so creatively!

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  25. After 55 comments, I hesitate to add a 56th, were it not for the compulsion to cite my favorite film's soundtrack. There was one brief shot from Hedwig and the Angry Inch featured in the 2002 Oscar telecast, causing me to quietly seethe because I thought John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask should have swept ALL the award categories. Along with Velvet Goldmine, it's one of my favorite film soundtracks; I was singing "Wicked Little Town" only yesterday, and "Wig in a Box" can cheer me up like little else can.

    (And at least now the Broadway revival has showered upon Mitchell and Trask all the recognition they so thoroughly deserve.)

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    1. Hi Lila
      The more the merrier, as far as I'm concerned. Although you will probably erase my from your computer when i tell you I have neither seen nor ever heard the score for "Hedwig & the Angry Inch" (can I claim age?)
      The closest I got was when Doogie Howser performed a pretty amazing number on the Tony Awards.
      I don't know it well enough to know if any songs were written expressly for the film- the only way a show already produced on Broadway can get a nomination- but your enthusiasm for it makes me think I might be missing something.

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  26. Sorry for being late to your Oscar song party - what a great column!
    I have so many favorite tunes the Academy overlooked, starting with two by the great John Barry - "We Have All the Time in the World" for the 1969 Bond picture "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "In All the Right Places" for "Indecent Proposal" in 1993.
    I share your love for Bachrach but Barry scored more movies and his songwriting is often overlooked in favor of his lush, jazzy instrumentals (I'm thinking of his fantastic, lesser known score for "Petulia" as I write this).
    I love "Across 110th Street" and was thrilled when Tarantino used it to bolster "Jackie Brown."
    Recently, I watched "Superfly" for the first time in many years and was struck once again by how terrific Mayfield's work on that movie was, including the title tune (superior, in my opinion, to the theme from "Shaft").
    As far as "Xanadu" goes I think almost any of the original tunes in that score merited Oscar consideration ("All Over the World" never fails to lift my spirits when I listen to that great soundtrack).
    Thanks, as always, Ken, for this nostalgia trip!

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    1. Hi Joe!
      I'd say your contributions to the list qualifies as saving the best for last. So glad for the John Barry shout out, for I do think his work is overlooked. I'm guilty of it myself.
      And such great additions to the list. I'm familiar with the song from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" but had to look up the lovely tune from "Indecent Proposal."
      I was watching "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" a couple of weeks ago, and Barry composed some great songs for that film.
      I've never seen "Superfly"but remember how popular Mayfield's music was when I was young. And of course, picking a single song out of the "Xanadu" roster was hard for me...so glad you mentioned "All Over the World" which is a marvelous anthem/theme.
      Thanks so much for adding your selections to this fun and amazing list!

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    2. "Superfly" contains several outstanding songs from Curtis Mayfield: the title tune, for one, as well as "Little Child Runnin' Wild", "Freddie's Dead", "Give Me Your Love", "No Thing On Me"...but if I had to go with one above all the others, it's "Pusherman" (which from memory plays in the film twice). So much great stuff here, it's ridiculous the entire score wasn't regarded by the Academy. Then again, the whole film was probably too much for mainstream Hollywood to handle.

      You haven't seen "Superfly", Ken? Seriously, I recommended it most highly. I'm not sure if you're fond of the so-called "Blaxploitation" genre, but "Superfly" is much better than you might think. One of the earliest roles for Ron O'Neal, who plays the leading role (and he could really act, too), but alas, never really became a big film star after this.

      One of my favourite sequences in "Superfly" is the montage of still images depicting Priest's customers snorting coke, accompanied by the aforementioned "Pusherman" song. And there's something you just don't see in movies nowadays: the still-image montage! There was also one in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", as well as "To Sir with Love"--why don't movies have these anymore? I think the most recent film, that I've seen, to feature a still-image montage was "The Hebrew Hammer"(2003), which was (of course) a parody of said montage from "Superfly"!

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    3. Hi Mark
      No, I've never seen "Superfly" (and for the reason you stated, I bear no fondness for the blaxploitation genre generally), but based on your and other people's enthusiasm for it and the soundtrack (which I genuinely like) I might give it a try.
      Certainly the time distancing will help. In the 70s Blaxploitation films were almost as ubiquitous and plentiful as superhero films today, so I tended to steer clear.
      Neat point about the still-image montage. It's interesting how the language of cinema can function in a way similar to spoken language. in that I mean words can grow archaic or die, and in film the same applies. Some cinematic devices (split screen, slow motion, wavy image dissolves for dreams) can become so overused in one era, that the only way another era can use t is ironically or referentially. That is, until a particularly talented director comes up with a may of making something old seem new. The trouble is when a device is used and audiences giggle or think it's used in a satiric manner.
      I liked those montages!
      Thanks for contributing to the conversation, Mark!

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  27. Hi Ken.

    Great admirer of this wonderful blog. I am thrilled to read that Xanadu is amongst your favourite songs of all time! It is without a doubt my favourite song. So many levels, from the soaring ONJ vocal to the exceptional and unique production by ELO. I simply adore it!

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    1. Hi Aaron
      What a nice comment! And, of course, it's always cool to hear from someone who appreciates what an outstanding pop song "Xanadu" is. It's one of those songs about which you can't imagine anything being improved upon. A perfect collaboration.
      I'm flattered you enjoy the blog, and I'm glad you took the time to comment. Thanks!

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