Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reviewing the Oscar nominated songs of the last 35 years, 1982

Continuing from here and presumably you remember how we started. Here are the five nominees (films released in 1981 for the Oscars awarded in 1982):
  • "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" from Arthur (Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen, music and lyrics) - winner
  • "Endless Love" from Endless Love (Lionel Richie)
  • 'The First Time it Happens" from The Great Muppet Caper (Joe Raposo)
  • "For Your Eyes Only" from For Your Eyes Only (Bill Conti, music; Michael Leeson, lyrics)
  • "One More Hour" from Ragtime (Randy Newman, music and lyrics)
Nothing really notable is absent ("Appreciate the Lady" from The Fox and the Hound or "Never Say Goodbye" from Continental Divide anyone?).
The first time you see her
No bolt from the blue
Just something so quiet
That's waiting for you
It would be difficult to match the brilliance of "The Rainbow Connection" and with "The First Time it Happens from The Great Muppet Caper they didn't. Not even close. [4]
One more sad song
Play for me
One more sad song
Play for me, won't you play for me?
About 20 years ago Becky pointed out that every Randy Newman song is just a commercial for Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour. She was basically right, but the one time you could forgive him for this was for the nominee from Ragtime, 1 of his first 2 of 20 (so far) nominations (with 2 wins). Not even Jennifer Warnes can do much for this pretty flimsy song (the lyrics above are 1/3 of the song). [5]
Maybe I'm an open book because I know you're mine
But you won't need to read between the lines
Can somebody explain to me why songwriters create love songs for James Bond movies? Between the gadgets, the clothes and the frequent one night stands the character comes off as gayer than my trip across the country to see Cher on Halloween. Given the year and the fact that it's a Roger Moore Bond I'll guess that he has 4 separate hook-ups (including some ribald scene before the credits where M calls while he's fucking). Anyone singing that Bond is theirs is about to get fed to the sharks with the lasers.  Sheena  Easton sings the shit out of it (and is the only singer seen in a Bond movie's credits). [6]
Arthur he does as he pleases
All of his life, he's mastered choice
Deep in his heart, he's just, he's just a boy
"Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" was a huge hit for no clear reason (the whole yacht rock thing swept Christopher Cross to this slew of major Grammys and an Oscar). When I listened to this recently I realized it's just a quilt of music and lyrics. It feels like it's got a lot of heart but it's just a lot of romantic chord progressions and vaguely deep lyrics. The lyrics above are the only part of the song with that narrative style--it really feels like 4 contributors just stapled their part to the other stuff. Allen wrote the part about being caught between the moon and New York City while his flight from LA was circling the city waiting for a runway to open up. I have no idea how long that was before the movie Arthur was made. In other years the Academy limited each song to a maximum of 3 nominees which is arbitrary and Peter Allen is probably pretty lucky that wasn't one of those years. Not that lucky since he's dead, but he's still an Oscar winner. [8]
And love
Oh, love
I'll be a fool
For you
Another huge hit. More flimsy lyrics. But ultimately it's a song that far surpasses the forgettable source material. It deserves to be a perennial wedding favorite. Probably bought Lionel Richie a jet. [8 and the song I would pick to win]