Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Reviewing the Oscar nominated songs of the last 35 years, 1984

It's almost deja vu all over again with 2 more tracks by the Bergmans. The nominees were...

  • "Flashdance... What a Feeling" from Flashdance (Giorgio Moroder, music; Keith Forsey and Irene Cara, lyrics) - winner
  • "Maniac" from Flashdance (Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky, music and lyrics)
  • "Over You" from Tender Mercies (Austin Roberts and Bobby Hart, music and lyrics)
  • "Papa Can You Hear Me?" from Yentl (Michel Legrand, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics) 
  • "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl (Michel Legrand, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)

What's missing? "Don't Box Me In" from Rumblefish and "Far From Over" from Staying Alive.
We start with "Over You" from Tender Mercies. Yawn. It's largely generic and completely forgettable. You guys took Stewart and Stan's nomination, dammit. [3]

The 2 songs from Yentl are less generic than prior nominations, or at least they're so obviously specific to Yentl that you couldn't really swap them with a song from another movie. "The Way He Makes Me Feel" [5] is less than "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" which was wonderfully John's team name when we used to predict celebrity deaths. [7]

Flashdance revolutionized movie music (and movie editing) and became the first post modern film musical. And its 2 nominated songs are pretty fucking awesome. I love "Maniac" [8] and only like "Flashdance... What a Feeling" [8 and should have won] but I can't rationalize picking "Maniac" ahead of a song with "Just a steel town girl on a Saturday night" as it's opening lyric. Good job Academy, you got one right.

Reviewing the Oscar nominated songs of the last 35 years, 1983

Well that was quite a break but I'm not going to waste time apologizing, let's just dig in. Here are the nominees I'll be dissecting.

  • "Up Where We Belong" from An Officer and a Gentleman (Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie, music; Will Jennings, lyrics)
  • "Eye of the Tiger" from Rocky III (Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan, music and lyrics)
  • "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" from Best Friends (Michel Legrand, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)
  • "If We Were in Love" from Yes, Giorgio (John Williams, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)
  • "It Might be You" from Tootsie (Dave Grusin, music; Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, lyrics)

What's missing? Two songs from Victor/Victoria ("Chicago, Illinois" and "Le Jazz Hot") or possibly "This One's From the Heart" from One From the Heart.

So if you pay attention to the nominated songwriters you'll see Alan and Marilyn Bergman's names next to 3 songs or varying quality and relation to their respective movies. The least of these 5 nominees is "If We Were in Love"--it's generic and unlistenable. [3]

I've never been a big fan of "Up Where We Belong" or An Officer and a Gentleman. I can't rationalize Louis Gosset Jr. beating James Mason or John Lithgow that year. And the song is, um, WTF is it about? I mean aside from the stated love, lifting us up where we belong (which is presumably the air [where the eagles fly, of course]). Props to Jennifer Warnes for playing beauty to the beastly voice of Joe Cocker, otherwise this song is a huge meh. [6]

Next is the generic lyrics from the Bergmans parade is "It Might be You" from Tootsie. Could you swap the songs to the other movies? Yes, yes you could. [7]

Which brings us, remarkably, to a song that I've grown to appreciate tremendously in this exercise... "Eye of the Tiger" is the fucking jam. There's a reason it's become the blue print for training montage anthems. It fucking rocks. "Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet. Just a man and his will to survive"... amen. [9 and should have won]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Just See Drowning as a Gift

Among my many failings is my failing as a liberal to be all pro-abortion all the time (not All Pro abortion like All Pro football, that's something else entirely). But the vitriol and intransigence of the debate means you can't effectively have a nuanced opinion. It's all or nothing and if conservatives implement things like abstinence-only sex education (which increased the teen pregnancy rates) I feel like I need to be a pro-choice dude. All of that is a slight disclaimer, this graphic is perfect.

The First Monday in October

The first Monday in October marks the beginning of the US Supreme Court's term. That's today.

It's also the name of a 1977 play and 1981 film about the inevitable hijinks likely to occur should a girl ever be appointed to the Supreme Court. The movie's release was accelerated after Sandra Day O'Connor's appointment.

You can tell a lot
about this movie from
this poster
Chances are you didn't see the play (starring Henry Fonda and Jane Alexander) nor the movie (with Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh) so here's the quick summary. He's the liberal of the court and she's a conservative (and the first-ever girl). There is a case involving a film called The Naked Nymphomanic which may or may not be pornographic thus someone please think of the children.

There's also a second story about a shadowy monolithic company named Omnitech that I vaguely recall but not well enough to get a sense for how prescient it was toward Halliburton.

I'm willing to bet $20 that between the 2 cases, 1 goes in Matthau's favor and 1 in Clayburgh's. And also lessons are learned.

Neither of the leads does a memorable job in the roles. I'm curious about how Jane Alexander did on stage (she's long been a favorite of mine) but not enough to figure out if there's a video of the play somewhere.

On censorship...

And Omnitech...