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Ten Oscar-winning Songs that Hit a Sour Note

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/02/2016 Loretta Bolger Wish
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Maybe it was an off year for movie music or a timely year to recognize a gifted songwriter's body of work. Or the free advertising a commercial hit received, imprinting it on voters in every mall and elevator, proved too much to resist. Whatever the reason, the Academy Awards have honored some awful entries in this category's 80-odd years. In fact, it's hard to limit the list to ten. So the following tunes, in no special order, are just a handful of Oscar's worst Best Songs:
1. "Windmills of your Mind" - Played endlessly throughout the original 1967 Thomas Crown Affair, this dreadful melody was coupled with equally bad lyrics featuring one of the era's ludicrous "of your mind" metaphors -- playgrounds of your mind, dishtowels of your mind, etc. Even if the windmill image had had any actual relevance to this film, the song would have been a clunker.
2. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" - Clearly inspired by a popular phone commercial of the day, but not nearly as moving, this 1984 tune from The Woman in Red is unworthy of the brilliant Stevie Wonder. It won out over a decent if not spectacular field of nominees (Let's hear It for the Boy and the title themes from Against All Odds, Footloose and Ghostbusters) and managed to be inferior to all of them.
3. "Streets of Philadelphia" - Not so much a song as a depressing four-note mantra, this 1993 winner from Philadelphia wasn't the finest hour for the incomparable Springsteen. Its co-nominees included at least two more deserving tunes, the title song from the same film and the chipper "A Wink and a Smile" from Sleepless in Seattle.
4. "Up Where We Belong" - This mawkish theme from the 1982 An Officer and a Gentleman suggests that lovers belong on a mountaintop with crying eagles. If voters were in an earnest mood, they should have picked the high-voltage "Eye of the Tiger" from Rocky III or, if they were feeling romantic, the lovely "It Might Be You" from Tootsie.
5. "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" - Much too perky even for a Bacharach-David tune, this was shoehorned into Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in an unnecessary bike-riding sequence. The result was more padding for an overlong albeit enjoyable1969 film and a grossly overplayed pop song. It's harmlessly cute the first time or two, then quickly goes from inane to grating.
6. "Say You Say Me" - This insipid tune from White Nights, which lingered on the Top 40 charts forever, was the worst of the 1985 nominees. It unjustly beat out not only the bittersweet "Separate Lives" from the same film but The Color Purple's sly, adorable "Miss Celie's Blues" and Back to the Future's kick-ass "The Power of Love."
7. "Chim Chim Cheree" - Even overlooking the otherwise wondrous Dick Van Dyke's inept Cockney accent, this was a fairly weak entry in the delightful Mary Poppins soundtrack. Yet it was the only 1964 nominee from a movie musical where songs like "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilistic" were also eligible. Plus it aced out the exuberant Rat Pack anthem "My Kind of Town," from Robin and the Seven Hoods
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8. "Flashdance ... What a Feeling" - Admittedly the 1983 film's dance finale is spectacular, but that doesn't make this an Oscar-caliber song. The melody is passable but the lyrics are moronic ("Bein's believing"-seriously?) and almost none of them rhyme unless you count the imaginative pairing of "life" with "life."
9. "Never on Sunday" - This tedious melody loops relentlessly through the 1960 film of the same title. It lodges in your head as firmly as Disney's perpetually annoying "It's a Small World," which may be why the classic High Time ballad "The Second Time Around" and Pepe's wistful "Faraway Part of Town" never really had a chance.
10. "Last Dance" - Even disco haters know it belongs in some films (Saturday Night Fever, of course, and maybe Rocky), but this tune from the 1977 Thank God it's Friday didn't rate any movie exposure much less an Oscar. It begs for a dance partner "to hold me, to scold me 'cause when I'm bad I'm so, so bad." Enough said.
Dishonorable Mention:

  • "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" from The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956
  • "Take My Breath Away" from Top Gun,1986
  • "We May Never Love Like This Again" from The Towering Inferno, 1974
  • "You Light Up My Life" from You Light Up My Life, 1977

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