Soundtrack Scene: Fifty Shades of Furious

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 3.39.39 PM
A screenshot from the music video for “See You Again”

The Weeknd’s “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” from – you guessed it – Fifty Shades of Grey just creeped to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated Apr. 18. Ellie Goulding’s Fifty Shades ballad “Love Me Like You Do” returns to its peak position of No. 3. Meanwhile, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” from Furious 7 – whose music video and placement in the film act as tributes to the late Paul Walker – zooms from No. 82 to No. 10.

While digital sales for “See You Again” led its recent Hot 100 surge, the piano ballad boasts a massive lead on iTunes this week as it also takes off on pop and rhythmic radio. The song may have enough fuel in the tank to top the Hot 100 in the near future – maybe as early as next week. The soundtrack may top the charts, too.

“Earned It” continues to climb on the pop, rhythmic, urban, and hot adult contemporary radio formats, and boasts strong sales, too. The sultry number could very well reach the summit of the chart at some point in the coming weeks. While “Love Me Like You Do” grows on pop and hot adult contemporary radio, the track has likely peaked when it comes to weekly sales. Of course, hitting the top three of the Hot 100 is nothing to complain about.

Songs from film soundtracks have found less success on the charts in the new millennium than they achieved in the 1980s and 1990s; correlation between chart success and Oscar attention seems to be little if at all existent. However, popularity and exposure certainly can’t hurt – and as their Hot 100 positions suggest, these songs are hurting for neither.

Of the three songs here, I imagine “See You Again” has the best shot at the Oscar nomination. The sentimental angle should work in its favor, if it’s submitted – “We Own It (Fast and Furious)” from Furious 6 (2013) was absent from the list of tunes eligible for the original song Oscar. Then again, Steven Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times mentions that “See You Again” includes “a Middle Eastern-flavored sample,” so maybe it will be ineligible.

While the Fifty Shades songs are popular, voters may want to distance themselves from the franchise in light of negative reviews. It also hurts that “Earned It” and “Love Me Like You Do” are dumped into seemingly random spots in the film, despite being soundtrack standouts. (It’s like the Twilight franchise in more ways than one!)

Of course, we have to consider that the year may bring even more Oscar-eligible hits. Mockingjay – Part 2 is sure to end the Hunger Games series with a bang. Spectre may produce another Bond hit – but who’s performing it? Pharrell Williams may have another “Happy”-esque hit on his hands with Minions. (Owl City already seems to have a song called “Lighting Up the Tunnel” set for the film.) Lady Gaga may have a hit with “Till It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground – which she co-wrote with seven-time nominee Diane Warren. Eminem, who won here for “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile (2002), may return if he contributes new music to Antoine Fuqua’s Southpaw.

The real question here is, does such success forecast a shift in the correlation between songs’ popularity/exposure and Oscar attention?

Be sure to check out the updated original song page!

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