ORIGINAL SONG

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Take a listen to Eminem’s new song Phenomenal taken from the Southpaw soundtrack. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal who plays a boxer who looks to rise after a tragedy.

The song is a bold, dark and at times an empowering ode on which Em rhymes about being, you guessed it, phenomenal– with some of his signature pop culture references thrown in.

Take a listen below:

Southpaw is released on July 24.

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This brilliant performance. Scenes from Ava DuVernay’s magnificent film in the background. Great great stuff.

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Beyonce will perform solo but will return to join John Legend and Common for a performance of Glory – which will no doubt bring down the house.

From US Weekly:

“We do have an incredible introduction to our performance,” Common exclusively told Us Weekly at the Tanqueray Trunk Show in New York City on Jan. 31. “A segue into our song ‘Glory,’ as a tribute to Selma, being done by the great Beyonce. That’s one of the greatest talents you can have, helping us segue into it. To co-create a performance with someone like her. It’s good.”

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Are we going to pretend that anyone can win except Patti Smith?

“It’s On Again” from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”
“Opportunity” from “Annie”
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
“Big Eyes” from “Big Eyes”
“Immortals” from “Big Hero 6”
“The Apology Song” from “The Book of Life”
“I Love You Too Much” from “The Book of Life”
“The Boxtrolls Song” from “The Boxtrolls”
“Quattro Sabatino” from “The Boxtrolls”
“Ryan’s Song” from “Boyhood”
“Split The Difference” from “Boyhood”
“No Fate Awaits Me” from “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them”
“Brave Souls” from “Dolphin Tale 2”
“You Got Me” from “Dolphin Tale 2”
“All Our Endless Love” from “Endless Love”
“Let Me In” from “The Fault in Our Stars”
“Not About Angels” from “The Fault in Our Stars”
“Until The End” from “Garnet’s Gold”
“It Just Takes A Moment” from “Girl on a Bicycle”
“Last Stop Paris” from “Girl on a Bicycle”
“Ordinary Human” from “The Giver”
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
“Find A Way” from “The Good Lie”
“Color The World” from “The Hero of Color City”
“The Last Goodbye” from “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Chariots” from “The Hornet’s Nest”
“Follow Me” from “The Hornet’s Nest”
“Something To Shoot For” from “Hot Guys with Guns”
“For The Dancing And The Dreaming” from “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“Afreen” from “The Hundred-Foot Journey”
“Yellow Flicker Beat” from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”
“Heart Like Yours” from “If I Stay”
“I Never Wanted To Go” from “If I Stay”
“Mind” from “If I Stay”
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
“Call Me When You Find Yourself” from “Life Inside Out”
“Coming Back To You” from “Life of an Actress The Musical”
“The Life Of An Actress” from “Life of an Actress The Musical”
“Sister Rust” from “Lucy”
“You Fooled Me” from “Merchants of Doubt”
“Million Dollar Dream” from “Million Dollar Arm”
“Spreading The Word/Makhna” from “Million Dollar Arm”
“We Could Be Kings” from “Million Dollar Arm”
“A Million Ways To Die” from “A Million Ways to Die in the West”
“Way Back When” from “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”
“America For Me” from “A Most Violent Year”
“I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu)” from “Muppets Most Wanted”
“Something So Right” from “Muppets Most Wanted”
“We’re Doing A Sequel” from “Muppets Most Wanted”
“Mercy Is” from “Noah”
“Seeds” from “Occupy the Farm”
“Grant My Freedom” from “The One I Wrote for You”
“The One I Wrote For You” from “The One I Wrote for You”
“Hal” from “Only Lovers Left Alive”
“Shine” from “Paddington”
“Still I Fly” from “Planes: Fire & Rescue”
“Batucada Familia” from “Rio 2”
“Beautiful Creatures” from “Rio 2”
“Poisonous Love” from “Rio 2”
“What Is Love” from “Rio 2”
“Over Your Shoulder” from “Rudderless”
“Sing Along” from “Rudderless”
“Stay With You” from “Rudderless”
“Everyone Hides” from “St. Vincent”
“Why Why Why” from “St. Vincent”
“Glory” from “Selma”
“The Morning” from “A Small Section of the World”
“Special” from “Special”
“Gimme Some” from “#Stuck”
“The Only Thing” from “Third Person”
“Battle Cry” from “Transformers: Age of Extinction”
“Miracles” from “Unbroken”
“Summer Nights” from “Under the Electric Sky”
“We Will Not Go” from “Virunga”
“Heavenly Father” from “Wish I Was Here”
“So Now What” from “Wish I Was Here”
“Long Braid” from “Work Weather Wife”
“Moon” from “Work Weather Wife”

Smith with Kronos Quartet 6, photo by Niko Tavernise

The walruses have washed up on a beach in Alaska. There is nowhere else for them to go. It will become one of the most iconic images of our planet on the brink of a massive shift in its eco system, otherwise known as climate change. Though Darren Aronofsky’s Noah was cloaked heavily in religion and smeared by the Fundamentalist Christians who felt it not faithful enough to scripture, the one important message from the film is that it is up to us to fix this mess. We are probably too late.

I spoke with Patti Smith, whose Mercy Is marks the first time she has written a song for any film. When she heard Aronofsky was making Noah, Smith approached the director and eventually asked if she could write the song (with her longtime writing partner).

She’s Patti Smith, of course, and this wasn’t going to be a subtle undertaking. She threw herself into the world of Noah, read scriptures, watched every Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins film. She knew that this was a story of a story and her song would be that story passed down through the generations. If Noah leaves us with any resonating memory it’s this: Mercy is as mercy does.

She reads and appreciates the teachings of Jesus and is evolved enough, and curious enough as a human being to immerse herself in the scripture without getting bogged down on the notion of whether she is a “believer” or not. It works just as well on a mythic and metaphoric level.

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Russell Crowe was definitely the muse for Mercy Is. His intensity and passion not just in taking on the role of Noah but throughout his career was something that greatly impressed Smith. “It was such an honor to write a song for him,” she said.

Smith said this was the most disciplined singing she’s ever had to do. The performance of the song that plays at the end of the film was recorded live with the Kronos Quartet. She said Aronofsky was there when they recorded because this was such a personal film for him he really wanted to make sure every aspect was thought through. The only thing he asked Smith to change was invoking horses. He told her there weren’t any horses at the time.” So she substituted doves instead.

Singing with an orchestra, or a quartet, presented several challenges for the usually improvisational Smith. A tight vocal track laid down with specifics is not generally the way she sings. If you’re a fan of hers (to say I am a fan is to put it mildly) you know she feels her way through songs. But here, she tamed that infamous spirit with laser like focus. The song is sung by Crowe so it was important to Smith that he be able to sing it as well. He certainly does sing it well but no one sings it better than Smith.

Patti Smith & Robert Mapplethorpe
Concern for the environment is what drove Smith to write the song and is at the heart of her concerns lately. “There is no greater cause for the human race right now,” she said. She believes that there is more urgency now than there ever has been and if any photo captured that urgency it’s this photo:

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It was the first thing I brought up in the conversation and she knew immediately what I was talking about. It is an unimaginable horror to think that we’ve done nothing significant to stop the warming. Smith stops short of hopelessness. I did not reveal to her that I believe it’s too late. Aronofsky’s film is, to me, a telling of our fate. Smith is more hopeful. She is the last person to start imposing the ideals of her generation on future generations and she never laments how things change. She dives into that change like a charging wave. The newness of life is not something she fears.

When she talks about the environment or songwriting or her own vast and lengthy career it is with humility, which is probably the most unexpected thing about her. If there was ever was a legend who could play that card it would be her. But she doesn’t play it. If anything, she downplays it.

Smith’s memoir “Just Kids” is going to be made into a film eventually but she sounded uncomfortable being asked the question — she said she wants to do it in her time, in her own way. She’s earned that right.

That I found myself actually speaking to Patti FUCKING Smith on the phone the other day was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Honestly, I had no business taking up this woman’s time. Sometimes I meet people in this crazy job I do and it presents nothing so much as silence. I have nothing to say. I just stare blankly out at the world and think: holy fucking shit. This was one of those times.

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Seriously, how do you even begin to talk about Patti Smith? Upon hearing her voice I choked up. That is the bad part about reverence. “It’s okay,” she said. “I do the same thing.”

What a trip.

Smith is one of those rare bright stars, a whole human being who is nowhere near done. The skinny poet in a tongue lock with Sam Shepherd all of those years ago has made a career of vital storytelling through poetry and music. That she is anywhere near the Oscar race is a rare gift indeed.

So it isn’t even a worthy discussion to say Patti Smith should be Oscar nominated for Mercy Is. They really should just hand the woman the Oscar already. They will if they know what’s good for them. If they don’t, I am embarrassed for them.

Listen to Smith’s song here:

And a few of my favorite things about her:

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Isn’t this movie amazing? Just saying. Watching this featurette reminds me of how incredible…Her….was! The Karen O. featurette after the jump.


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Who knew that the Best Song category would turn into such a contentious mess? On the one hand you have the frontrunner, Idnina Menzel’s masterful Let it Go, which not only does everything a Best Song is supposed to do – thread through the narrative of the story, highlight its main theme and celebrate the meaning of the film overall. No song does that better than Let it Go. It comes at a pivotal moment in the plot where Elsa, the lead, has been run out of the village and is now free to finally let her power loose.  I know because I’ve seen the film four times now at the behest of my 15 year-old. No other animated film has ignited the younger generations, especially of young women, like Frozen which dares to present a Disney princess who does not need rescuing from any man and in fact doesn’t even have a love interest. The main thrust of the film isn’t about a man saving her ultimately but about sisters saving each other.   These little changes make a difference, particularly to the children who will now grow up thinking differently about what it means to be a princess.

Let it Go, however, has formidable challengers, chief among them the mighty U2, who will perform at the Oscars. U2 sings the song for Mandela, which means it has the Weinstein Co. behind it.  The power of Bono is not to be taken lightly.
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There was a cabaret performance of the songs from Frozen – Broadway World got a snippet of it on video – alas, the rest appears to be not yet online.

On Tuesday night, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to rescind the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel. The decision was prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former Governor and current Music Branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.

“No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President.

The Board determined that Broughton’s actions were inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations, which provide, among other terms, that “it is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”

An additional nominee in the Original Song category will not be named. The remaining nominees in the category are:

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen”
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from “Her”
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — Seventy-five songs from eligible feature-length motion pictures released in 2013 are in contention for nominations in the Original Song category for the 86th Oscars®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.

The original songs, along with the motion picture in which each song is featured, are listed below in alphabetical order by film title and song title:

“Amen” from “All Is Lost”
“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone”
“Doby” from “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”
“Last Mile Home” from “August: Osage County”
“Austenland” from “Austenland”
“Comic Books” from “Austenland”
“L.O.V.E.D.A.R.C.Y” from “Austenland”
“What Up” from “Austenland”
“He Loves Me Still” from “Black Nativity”
“Hush Child (Get You Through This Silent Night)” from “Black Nativity”
“Test Of Faith” from “Black Nativity”
“Forgiveness” from “Brave Miss World” Continue reading…

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There was some news that the cast of Les Miserables were going to perform at the Oscars but so far, at least in my news streams, I never got a confirmation on that. But now it is being reported that Adele will be there to perform Skyfall.

The AMPAS will be paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of Bond. Many believed that meant Skyfall would have been the first film nominated for Best Picture.  It probably would have if the Oscars had stuck with an even ten. But since they have a system of each member only choosing five it was less likely, since not that many people who have put Skyfall at number one.

“It’s an honor to be nominated and terrifyingly wonderful to be singing in front of people who have captured my imagination over and over again,” Adele said after nominations were announced. “It’s something I’ve never experienced and probably only ever will once!”

The Oscars will unfurl, amid much fanfare, on Sunday, February 24, 2013.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Seventy-five songs from eligible feature-length motion pictures released in 2012 are in contention for nominations in the Original Song category for the 85th Academy Awards®, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today.

The original songs, along with the motion picture in which each song is featured, are listed below in alphabetical order by film and song title:

“For You” from “Act of Valor”
“Metaphorical Blanket” from “Any Day Now”
“Let It Rain” from “Being Flynn”
“Learn Me Right” from “Brave”
“Touch the Sky” from “Brave”
“Airport” from “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best”
“Come on Girl” from “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best”
“Someday” from “Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best”
“Protect the King” from “Brooklyn Castle”
“California Solo” from “California Solo” Continue reading…

It’s never easy predicting how Best Song will go. The rule:

Original Song:
An original song consists of words and music, both of which are original and written specifically for the motion picture.  There must be a clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition (not necessarily visually presented) of both lyric and melody, used in the body of the motion picture or as the first music cue in the end credits.

The tricky part here, Agent Starling, is the “used in the body of the motion picture” part. I am not sure why certain songs are deemed ineligible but every year there seems to be a curfuffle.  At any rate, I’m sure Neil Finn’s Hobbit song will be in accordance with these rules. Neil Finn of Crowded House fame.  Listen to it here.

Will the trademark Bond theme woven into the orchestration interfere with the song’s eligibility? Depends entirely on the whims and vagaries of the music branch, so there’s no point even speculating. Best to wait and see. We’ve enough stress on our minds. Compare Adele’s voice to Shirley Bassey singing Diamonds Are Forever, after the cut.

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Willie Nelson has, unbelievably, never won an Oscar in the Best Original Song category and in fact has only been nominated once for his song On the Road Again for Honeysuckle Rose. It’s actually rather shocking, this news. The Huffington Post announced that the Weinstein Co. will be fully behind Nelson’s way way way overdue second Oscar nom and maybe win for Midnight Run, the song he wrote for the Nick Cave-written film, Lawless.

 

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