1942 - Best Original Song
The nominees were...
"Always in My Heart," Always in My Heart
"How About You," Babes on Broadway
"Love Is a Song," Bambi
"Pennies for Peppino," Flying with Music*
"White Christmas," Holiday Inn
"Pig Foot Pete," Keep 'Em Flying
"There's a Breeze on Lake Louise," The Mayor of 44th Street
"(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo," Orchestra Wives
"Dearly Beloved," You Were Never Lovelier
"I've Heard That Song Before," Youth on Parade
*I cannot find a copy anywhere of "Pennies for Peppino"
WON: "White Christmas," Holiday Inn
SHOULD'VE WON: "I've Heard That Song Before," Youth on Parade
Another year, another rather mixed bag on the whole, another tough call among two or three truly great songs.
The travesty of 1942 Best Original Song is the two strongest songs of the year are nowhere to be found among the Oscar nominees - the timeless "I'm Old Fashioned," from the Fred Astaire-Rita Hayworth musical You Were Never Lovelier (instead represented here by the decidedly inferior "Dearly Beloved"), and the delightful "(We're Off on the) Road of Morocco" from the classic Bing Crosby-Bob Hope comedy Road to Morocco.
Instead, we're stuck with a couple of fleeting, frivolous tracks in "Always in My Heart" and "There's a Breeze on Lake Louise" (great title...not much of a song, unfortunately). Bambi's "Love Is a Song," which you may (or may not, given its quality) recall plays over the film's opening credits, certainly isn't among the more memorable Disney songs. And "Pig Foot Pete," while charmingly peppy and bouncy enough, doesn't leave much of an impression either. (Note: "Pig Foot Pete," officially, was nominated for the musical Hellzapoppin'...even though it's not featured in that picture, but instead the Abbott and Costello comedy Keep 'Em Flying.)
"(I've Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo" is performed with considerable finesse and energy by the Glenn Miller Orchestra in Orchestra Wives but in hindsight is perhaps most notable for being the A-side to B-side "At Last," which of course would go on to be an unforgettable record decades later for Etta James. "Kalamazoo," while fun, isn't exactly an unforgettable time.
For me, this year comes down to the Judy Garland-performed "How About You," the Margaret Whiting-performed (well, dubbed) "I've Heard That Song Before" and the winner, the Bing Crosby-performed classic "White Christmas."
"How About You" is a real charmer, with a marvelous Garland vocal...it really does transport you back to '40s New York. And while I actually much prefer Darlene Love's cover of "White Christmas" (on the 1963 Phil Spector Christmas album, which is really one of the all-time great albums in any genre), Crosby's original is an unimpeachable classic.
Ultimately, however, I have to (again) side with the Jule Styne nominee, "I've Heard That Song Before," from a film I've never heard of before, Youth on Parade. The combo of Styne's music, Sammy Cahn's reliably terrific lyrics and Whiting's sensational vocal is too much for me to resist. Harry James and Helen Forrest would later go on to perform an even more wonderful cover of the song, which was used to perfection throughout Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters.
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...
- "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
- "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
- "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
- "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
- "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)