1987 Best Original Song - The Year We Had the Times of Our Lives

WON AND SHOULD'VE WON: "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," Dirty Dancing

Ah, nothing like a year at the Oscars that recognizes the likes of Beverly Hills Cop II, Dirty Dancing and Mannequin.

Despite my admiration for Jennifer Grey and the late Patrick Swayze, I've never much cared for Dirty Dancing - it's not a picture I feel great nostalgia for and, in the echelon of coming-of-age cinema, I don't quite consider Baby's awakening among the most memorable or compelling. What the film does unimpeachably offer, however, is a flat-out fantastic soundtrack, mostly adapted, of course, with legendary tunes like "Be My Baby," "Stay" and "Love Is Strange."

As for the picture's iconic Oscar-winning original song, "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," to call it merely infectious would be an understatement. Somehow, this effort, featuring the unlikely pair of The Righteous Brothers' Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (the latter headlining her third and final Oscar-winning tune) - both guilty of attaching themselves to their fair shares of dreck over the years - and composed by a trio of songwriting novices (Frankie Previte, John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz), managed to pull off '80s adult contemporary-pop perfection. Even without caring terribly about the film and the romance between Baby and Johnny, I can't help but be swept away by this one, cheesy saxophone solo and all. It works marvelously.

A close runner-up, however, is Mannequin's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," which came along during Grace Slick and Starship (formerly Jefferson Airplane)'s surprise comeback in the mid-'80s. The song, which marked composer Diane Warren's first appearance at the Oscars, is also a prime piece of '80s soft rock, reasonably corny without ever being offensively so, and very hard to resist. And Slick sounds fantastic.

There's a bit of a gap in quality from there but - a rarity in Best Original Song - there isn't a rotten apple to be found among the nominees.

Bob Seger's "Shakedown" is a nice, pulsating piece of pop rock, from the terrific Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack, which also featured some great tunes from George Michael (the notorious "I Want Your Sex"), Jermaine Jackson and the Pointer Sisters. "Cry Freedom," from the eponymous film, is a sweeping, if exhausting effort from composers George Fenton and South African jazz legend Jonas Gwangwa. It works in fits and starts and has a glorious finish but there are portions that just sit there, lifeless. Finally, The Princess Bride's "Storybook Love" is a pleasant, simple piece, appropriate for the picture but not all that note-worthy otherwise.

The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...

  1. "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  2. "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
  3. "High Hopes," A Hole in the Head (1959)
  4. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  5. "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
  6. "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
  7. "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," Dirty Dancing (1987)
  8. "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  9. "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
  10. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  11. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
  12. "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
  13. "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
  14. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
  15. "Fame," Fame (1980)
  16. "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
  17. "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
  18. "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
  19. "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  20. "Take My Breath Away," Top Gun (1986)
  21. "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
  22. "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
  23. "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  24. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
  25. "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Flashdance (1983)
  26. "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," Arthur (1981)
  27. "Last Dance," Thank God It's Friday (1978)
  28. "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  29. "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
  30. "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
  31. "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
  32. "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
  33. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
  34. "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
  35. "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae (1979)
  36. "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
  37. "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
  38. "I Just Called to Say I Love You," The Woman in Red (1984)
  39. "Up Where We Belong," An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  40. "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  41. "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
  42. "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
  43. "Evergreen (Theme from A Star Is Born)," A Star Is Born (1976)
  44. "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
  45. "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
  46. "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
  47. "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  48. "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
  49. "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
  50. "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
  51. "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
  52. "Say You, Say Me," White Nights (1985)
  53. "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  54. "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)