Essays · Movies

2014 Oscar Prediction: Best Original Song

By  · Published on February 25th, 2014

This year’s nominees for Best Original Song come from four films that tackle very different subject matter – fighting an evil villain (with the help of some tiny yellow friends), finding love in unexpected ways, learning to accept who you are, and the story of a man who lived an extraordinary life.

But there is one thing that unites all these songs: an uplifting spirit.

Songs featured in films should capture the feeling of the film itself and all four of these nominations do just that in very different and compelling ways. Some will move you to tears where others will put a smile on your face, but the one thing all four will do is make you feel.

The fact that all four nominees are going to be performed live by Pharell Williams, Karen O, Idina Menzel, and U2 promises this category’s presentation to be one of Oscar night’s best moments. We break down the nominees with my prediction of which song I think will win in red

“Happy” from Despicable Me 2, Music and Lyrics by Pharell Williams; Performed by Pharell Williams

Why It Was Nominated:

A silly movie where some of the breakout stars are talking yellow marshmallows may not seem like an Oscar contender, but Williams once again created music that helps make Despicable Me 2 a standout and “Happy” is one of William’s best efforts yet. Williams is an accomplished musician and song writer and proves that talent here with a song that works just as well outside of the film, and who’s catchy beat will instantly put you in a good mood. I dare you not to clap along.

Why It Might Win:

The Academy loves to award fun, happy songs from animated films and a song literally titled “Happy” from one of the years best animated films may prove to be the winning combination.

Why It Might Not Win:

While songs from animated films usually have the leg up in this category, “Happy” is going head to head with a powerhouse of a song from another animated movie which may have “Let It Go” pushing “Happy” out of the running when it comes down the to final vote.

“The Moon Song” from Her, Music by Karen O; Lyrics by Karen O and Spike Jonze; Performed by Karen O

This is a song about love – not a love song, but a song about love. “The Moon Song” captures the feeling of falling in love, sharing intimate moments, and being accepted for exactly who you are. Perfect for a movie about love.

Her is not your typical love story and Karen O’s beautiful ballad reflects the true feeling at the root of Spike Jonze’s narrative. With a simple strings and sweet lyrics, “The Moon Song” may be one of the more subtle selections nominated, but the song’s honesty and pure emotion make it a clear contender for the gold.

Why It Might Win:

“The Moon Song” may keep things simple and stripped down, but it is a song that conveys the raw emotion that surrounds the indescribable feeling of falling in love, making the song just as affecting as its fellow nominees, despite its more understated approach.

Why It Might Not Win:

“The Moon Song” certainly captures the essence of Spike Jonze’s Her, but the minimal quality that makes this song so wonderful may also be what keeps it from leaving a standing impression on voters. The Academy often favors the more flashy.

“Let It Go” from Frozen, Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez; Performed by Idina Menzel

Why It Was Nominated:

Why It Might Win:

Delivering strong ballads driven by a positive message is what Disney does best, with the Academy long loving (and awarding) them for it, and “Let It Go” is one of their best yet.

Why It Might Not Win:

Menzel and Disney may be a powerful combination, but so are the members of U2, and with a Golden Globe already under their collective belts, “Ordinary Love” may end up besting Disney’s latest.

“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom, Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen; Lyrics by Paul Hewson; Performed by U2

Why It Was Nominated:

Uplifting and moving, U2’s “Ordinary Love” is the musical embodiment of Nelson Mandela. U2 is the perfect band to represent Mandela as their hopeful sound reflects the former leader’s worldview, especially as depicted in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Inspirational lyrics driven by a catchy beat helped “Ordinary Love” end Mandela on a positive note that promised change, working as the perfect final song for the film and making it a natural contender for Oscar gold.

After the passing of Nelson Mandela, this song seemed to take on new weight. Plus “Ordinary Love” has already taken home the Golden Globe, and although it is surprising, U2 has never won an Oscar before.

Why It Might Not Win:

“Ordinary Love” may have won the Golden Globe, but they also won the Globe in 2003 for “The Hands That Built America” which was not even nominated for an Oscar, and with Disney’s strong history of wins in this category, this may end up being U2’s category to lose.

Who Should Win: “Let It Go”

“Let It Go” should win because it is the one selection that delivers on an array of different emotions – it will make you cry, it will lift you up, it will make you smile, and it will get stuck in your head. Each of the other nominations can do one or two of these things, but “Let It Go” gives you them all in a way that avoids being cheesy and becomes something more than memorable – it is simply powerful.