The Best Original Song category is always good value for those who enjoy being bewildered by the Academy Awards.
Whether the category has three separate songs from the one film (see: 2007 and Enchanted) or just two nominees in a battle to the death (2011’s non-showdown between ‘Man or Muppet’ and, erm, ‘Real in Rio’), there’s always something nutty to complain about.
It’s no different in 2014, where former favourites like Lana del Rey’s Great Gatsby anthem ‘Young and Beautiful’ and Inside Llewyn Davis‘s lone original composition, hilarious novelty song ‘Please Mr. Kennedy’ were passed over for… this thing.
That’s ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ from the movie, ahem, Alone Yet Not Alone.
Still not sure what it is? According to the film’s official website, it concerns a family escaping persecution in Germany and finding freedom in a burgeoning America. That is, until “Delaware warriors kidnap the two young Leininger daughters and attempt to indoctrinate them into native culture.” Oh no!
“Through their ordeal they never lose hope and their faith becomes their freedom.” (You can download the film’s official church study guide here, FYI.)
Penned by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel, the song is performed by famed quadriplegic evangelical Joni Eareckson Tada.
Also worth noting: Broughton was a former governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, so he’s certainly someone who knows what’s required for a successful Oscar campaign.
Now, onto the slightly less shocking contenders.
Pharrell Williams capped his incredible year by claiming a nomination for his Despicable Me 2 track, Happy.
He released a 24-hour music video for the song late last year. Here’s hoping he plays the abridged version at the ceremony, because we really don’t need to extend the Academy Awards’ running time by a full two hours. (Joke!)
The big favourite is surely Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’, the show-stopping number from Disney’s box office behemoth.
Written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, it’s performed by Idina Menzel (who, if asked to sing at the Oscars, will bring down the Dolby Theatre like at the end of that Bugs Bunny cartoon).
The most pleasant surprise is the inclusion of Karen O’s haunting melody from Her, ‘The Moon Song’.
Performed by Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson in the movie (both claiming to improvise the lyrics; liars!), it perfectly captures the film’s melancholy mood.
And then there’s the U2 song from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, ‘Ordinary Love’.
(The songwriter is listed on the Academy’s official nomination form as Paul Hewson. Who’s he? Bono, apparently.)
Produced by Danger Mouse, this track won the Best Song prize from the Golden Globes. If I may share a personal prayer, I would rather this didn’t pull off the same trick over Pharrell, Karen O, or the Lopez’s.
The winners will be announced March 2, presumably by a couple of presenters who are at least a little bit affiliated with music. (The Golden Globes didn’t play by that rule, making Diddy and Usher share the stage with… Kate Beckinsale?)