WON: "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae
SHOULD'VE WON: "The Rainbow Connection," The Muppet Movie
A cloud of eligibility confusion hovers over 1979 Best Original Song, a category that presumably would have been dominated by "The Rose" (from the eponymous Bette Midler film) - which won the Golden Globe for Original Song - if only the Academy hadn't deemed it ineligible for consideration.
The beautiful, haunting tune, written by Amanda McBroom, had never been formally recorded prior to The Rose but when questioned by the Academy, McBroom stated honestly that she hadn't composed the track specifically for the film. Instead, she'd written the song a couple of years prior and had performed it in a few clubs along the way. Given McBroom's answer, the Academy quickly disqualified it for consideration, even though the Academy on at least half a dozen prior occasions through the years had nominated songs not necessarily written for their films.
"The Rose," which I would argue is probably among the 25 or so all-time greatest songs associated with a motion picture, is vastly superior to all of the Academy's selections in '79, a mostly middling grab bag of forgettable adult contemporary.
The Academy ultimately sided with the only contender from a Best Picture nominee, "It Goes Like It Goes" from the great Sally Field starrer Norma Rae. Performed by Jennifer Warnes, who would go on to headline or co-headline several more Original Song nominees (including two winners) over the coming decade, it's a listenable piece of soft rock with some fine instrumental work (the music is by the great David Shire of The Conversation and All the President's Men) but nothing terribly memorable, especially in comparison to something like "The Rose."
The winner is, however, vastly preferable to the likes of "Through the Eyes of Love" and "I'll Never Say Goodbye," two supremely dreary tracks performed by the artist with initials MM - in this case not the dreadful Maureen McGovern but the comparably syrupy Melissa Manchester. Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager (who composed the Ice Castles song) and Shire and Alan and Marilyn Bergman (on The Promise), typically brilliant musicians, were all asleep at the wheel here.
For me, this one's a somewhat close call between "It's Easy to Say," from the iconic Blake Edwards midlife crisis comedy 10, and "The Rainbow Connection," the opening number from the classic The Muppet Movie. Despite being composed by Oscar-winners Henry Mancini and Paul Williams respectively, neither is a spectacular piece of music but both are charmingly performed, by Dudley Moore and Julie Andrews on the former, and Jim Henson (as Kermit the Frog) on the latter. "It's Easy to Say" is respectable but it doesn't tug on my heartstrings like "The Rainbow Connection" does, so edge to Kermit here.
In terms of the snubbed, beyond "The Rose," it would've been pretty sweet to see The Ramones' "Rock 'n Roll High School" nominated here, not that it stood a prayer with the old geezers in the Academy.
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...
- "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "High Hopes," A Hole in the Head (1959)
- "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
- "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
- "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
- "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
- "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
- "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
- "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
- "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
- "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
- "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
- "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
- "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
- "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
- "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)
- "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
- "Last Dance," Thank God It's Friday (1978)
- "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
- "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
- "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
- "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
- "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
- "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
- "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
- "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae (1979)
- "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
- "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
- "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
- "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
- "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
- "Evergreen (Theme from A Star Is Born)," A Star Is Born (1976)
- "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
- "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
- "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
- "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
- "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
- "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
- "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)