2016 Oscar Circuit: Best Original Song

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Welcome to our annual Oscar Circuit series, our deep down look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of AwardsCircuit.com will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Circuit 2016. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your predicted winners in the comment section too!

AND THE NOMINEES ARE:

  • “Earned It” from – Fifty Shades of Grey, Music and Lyrics: Belly, Stephan Moccio, Jason “Daheala” Quenneville, and The Weeknd
  • “Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction, Music: J. Ralph, Lyrics: Antony Hegarty
  • “Simple Song #3” – Youth, Music and Lyrics: David Lang
  • “Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyrics: Lady Gaga and Diane Warren
  • “Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre, Music and Lyrics: Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

The next award in our Oscar Circuit series is Best Original Song. The category was first introduced at the 7th Academy Awards in 1934, making this category one of the oldest in Oscar history. In order to be nominated, songwriters must have contributed to the music, lyrics, or both, in an original piece in a film. Awards are not given to those who simply performed the song.

All nominees have been performed at the Academy Awards since 1946 with three exceptions: 1989, 2010 and 2012. Interestingly, at the 2013 Oscars only the winner (“Skyfall”) was performed solo as opposed to being part of a montage like the other nominees were.

Predicting the winners in this category is a little bit of a crapshoot, although a clear frontrunner usually emerges well before the Oscars (for instance, “Glory,” “Let It Go,” “Skyfall,” in the last three years). Has this year’s frontrunner emerged? Let’s take a look:

“Earned It,” FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

The days of nobody having prior knowledge of the original song winners are long gone, seeing as how the last several years have featured mainstream songs and artists. “Earned It” certainly qualifies under that logic (it reached Number Three on the Billboard Hot 100), and the fact it was featured in such a big box office hit almost guarantees that many Oscar voters have heard it. However, does the film’s steamy subject matter (and lack of other nominations elsewhere, excluding the Razzies) hurt its chances? That remains to be seen.

“Manta Ray,” RACING EXTINCTION

“Manta Ray” has an excellent cause boosting its chances: extinction. The breathtaking documentary that features the song, “Racing Extinction,” aired on Discovery in December. It details how humanity’s impact on the planet has exponentially increased the rate of extinction of half of the species on Earth. Composer J. Ralph has a history with the Oscars, as well, having been nominated in this category once before for “Before My Time” from the film “Chasing Ice.” He has also won for Best Documentary twice.

“Simple Song #3,” YOUTH

“Simple Song #3” is by far the outcast in the category this year, as neither it, nor its film, were mainstream. The emotional tune is very reflective of its film, “Youth,” which had some early buzz this year but ultimately failed to wow the Academy. There is no doubt it’s a beautiful piece, but it might get swallowed up by all of the press surrounding the two nominees below.

“Til It Happens To You,” THE HUNTING GROUND

Although it was shortlisted for the Best Documentary Feature category, “The Hunting Ground” did not ultimately get nominated for the Oscar. Its song “Til It Happens To You,” however, gained a nomination and then some. Lady Gaga, who performs the track as well as helped to write it with Diane Warren (an eight-time nominee in this category), recently performed the emotional ballad at the PGA Awards. It is a safe bet that plenty of Academy voting members were in the audience and paying attention. The move was a perfect way to keep the song fresh in their minds. There’s also been a lot of press about Gaga and the song, which bodes well for the song’s chances as well.

“Writing’s On The Wall,” SPECTRE

The last song in the category, “Writing’s On The Wall,” already has one big win under its belt. The latest Bond theme song took home the Golden Globe back in January, much to everyone’s surprise. However, its biggest competitor, “Til It Happens To You,” was not nominated at the Globes. Although another famous Bond song, Adele’s “Skyfall,” won the award a few years ago, it does not necessarily mean the Bond franchise is due for another win. The song received mix reviews when it was released, and even Sam Smith didn’t expect his Golden Globe win.

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Overall, “Til It Happens To You” has the star power that’s been popular in recent years, a comeback story by way of co-writer Diane Warren who is long overdue for the award, and an intense and important subject matter that is just so hard to ignore. That, plus the PGA performance, should boost this track to the winning circle come Oscar Sunday on Feb. 28.

Will Win:  “Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyrics: Lady Gaga and Diane Warren

Could Win: “Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre, Music and Lyrics: Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Should Win: “Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground, Music and Lyrics: Lady Gaga and Diane Warren

CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS FOR ALL CATEGORIES:

PICTURE |DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS |SUPPORTING ACTOR |SUPPORTING ACTRESS |ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY |ADAPTED SCREENPLAY |ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT