I could probably call the blog Soundtrack Scene at this point.
Anyway, the original song race always takes a long time to come into focus. Unlike most other Oscar categories, we often have little information on which songs are actually eligible, and as for which songs pass the test of the motion-picture academy’s curious music branch, it’s anyone’s guess. The announcement of the soundtrack for Disney’s Frozen helps bring the list of potential contenders into focus, but first…
The Flaming Lips offer a “Peace Sword”
The Flaming Lips announced last month that Ender’s Game inspired the six songs on their EP, Peace Sword, which arrives next Tuesday. Of these new tracks, “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)” seems like the one Oscar-eligible tune: The Daily Beast says it’s the official theme song of Ender’s Game, while Consequence of Sound says it “was written specifically for the upcoming film” – always crucial for knowing whether a song is eligible.
In the EP’s title track, a classical arrangement gives way to an ethereal fusion of modern alternative music and electronic beats. I’m a fan of “Peace Sword (Open Your Heart),” but the motion-picture academy’s music branch might feel differently about the song.
You can check out five of the songs over at Consequence of Sound; NPR has “If They Move, Shoot ‘Em.”
Is Disney pushing “Let It Go” from Frozen?
Disney ruled the original song category in the 1990s, winning five awards during the decade.* A process that helped: Disney released a radio-friendly edit of each song to pop radio to promote the songs as commercial properties and as Oscar contenders, even scoring a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 in the process.** “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan marked the last instance of this as far as I know. Well, until Monday…
Billboard reports that Demi Lovato recorded an edit of “Let It Go” from Frozen, Disney’s upcoming musical loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. No word on whether this edit will go for radio adds, but Billboard notes that Lovato is promoting “Neon Lights” at the moment. The pop singer also performed “Heart by Heart” for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, as I reported for The Awards Circuit earlier this year.
Lovato’s vocal abilities far surpass those of her Disney contemporaries, but the pop-friendly accompaniment takes away from the tune’s power. The aforementioned radio edits, though, tend to make the songs more relatable without detracting from their meaning.
Idina Menzel voices Elsa and thus performs “Let It Go” in Frozen, which highlights a potential stumbling block in the song’s road to Oscar glory: A Disney villain song has never vied for – let alone win – the original song trophy. Then again, Frozen seems to treat its antagonist with more sympathy than most Disney films treat their villains.
So, will “Let It Go” overcome the odds, or will Disney put its campaigning weight behind another song from Frozen? Disney just released the soundtrack listing. The songs performed in the film, via Film Music Reporter:
“Frozen Heart,” performed by the film’s cast
“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” performed by Kristen Bell, Agatha LeeMonn, and Katie Lopez
“For the First Time in Forever” (and its reprise), performed by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel
“Love is an Open Door,” performed by Kristen Bell and Santino Fontana
“Let It Go,” performed by Idina Menzel
“Reindeer(s) are Better than People,” performed by Jonathan Groff
“In Summer,” performed by Josh Gad
“Fixer Upper,” performed by the film’s cast and Maia Wilson
Odd that Kristen Bell and Jonathan Groff don’t get a duet – at least according to this soundtrack listing. Maybe Disney will give “Let It Go” the big push, but “For the First Time in Forever,” some of which you can hear below, also sounds like Oscar bait.
New Original Song contenders
“Peace Sword (Open Your Heart)” from Ender’s Game
“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” from Frozen
“Fixer Upper” from Frozen
“For the First Time in Forever” from Frozen
“In Summer” from Frozen
“Frozen Heart” from Frozen
“Let It Go” from Frozen
“Love is an Open Door” from Frozen
“Reindeer(s) are Better than People” from Frozen
* The five Oscar-winning songs are: “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast in 1991; “A Whole New World” from Aladdin in 1992; “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King in 1994; “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas in 1995; and “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan in 1999
** “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, as performed by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle, topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993.