1995 Best Original Song - The Long, Long Randy Newman Losing Streak

WON: "Colors of the Wind," Pocahontas

SHOULD'VE WON: "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman," Don Juan DeMarco

Among the more notable and surprising developments in my quest to tackle every Best Original Song category at the Oscars is just how much, since reviewing 1982 (the year he garnered his first Oscar nom with Ragtime's "One More Hour"), I've soured on composer Randy Newman.

Newman's 1998 score to Pleasantville is among my five favorite movie scores of all-time - it's a gorgeous, truly startling composition that lifts an already-exquisite picture to new heights. That surely is an occasion in which Newman deserved to pick up a trophy.

None of that beauty or nuance can be found anywhere, however, among Newman's first three appearances in Best Original Song - the bland "One More Hour" and two turgid pieces of adult contemporary, Parenthood's "I Love to See You Smile" and The Paper's "Make Up Your Mind." By 1995, Newman had gone, including his Best Original Score nominations, 0-for-6 at the Oscars. By 1996, he would be 0-for-8.

Venturing into '95 Best Original Song, I figured there was at least some chance I could at last go with Newman for the win. I am, after all, quite fond of Pixar's Toy Story and I thought I was a great admirer of Newman's music for the picture too but I suppose I either forgot or simply never realized just how short and fleeting his "You've Got a Friend in Me" is. On one hand, it's a charmer that instantly brings to mind images of a fantastic film. On the flip side, upon listening to it several times over the past day, I couldn't help but think to myself, "that's it?" It doesn't have much staying power. It's also not the picture's strongest song, that being the energetic "Strange Things." In a super-anemic year, I could probably settle on Newman here but I was stunned how (mildly) underwhelmed I was revisiting the tune.

As for the rest of the line-up in '95, I have a comparably 'eh' reaction all-around. There's no truly rotten song among the bunch but nothing stands out in any significant way either. Couldn't the Academy have nominated at least one or two tracks off the sublime Waiting to Exhale soundtrack, which featured terrific Babyface-produced tunes from the likes of Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and, my favorite, Brandy? (And no, Batman Forever's "Kiss from a Rose" and Dangerous Minds' "Gangsta's Paradise" were not eligible.)

The winner in '95, Pocahontas' "Colors of the Wind," is reasonably enjoyable, performed nicely by Broadway's great Judy Kuhn (and later covered to great success by Vanessa Williams) but it doesn't have any of the magic or emotional weight of the great Howard Ashman Disney tunes (instead it's Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz here).

Bruce Springsteen's "Dead Man Walkin'" is an appropriate fit for the Tim Robbins film but it's a rough listen on its own terms, as dreary as it is kinda-sorta haunting and without any real hook. Likewise, Sting's "Moonlight," composed by Oscar mainstays John Williams and Alan & Marilyn Bergman, is a pleasant, agreeable, completely insignificant listen, the kind of record you play in the background at a wine and cheese party where nobody's necessarily paying attention to the substance of a song.

Is my reputation dead if I go with my guilty pleasure of the five, Bryan Adams' "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman"? I concede it's no "Over the Rainbow" or "The Way You Look Tonight" but at least it's a fun, catchy listen, in a cheesy '90s pop-rock sort of way, which is more than I can say about the competing foursome.

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. "Streets of Philadelphia," Philadelphia (1993)
  5. "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  6. "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
  7. "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
  8. "(I've Had) the Time of My Life," Dirty Dancing (1987)
  9. "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  10. "The Way We Were," The Way We Were (1973)
  11. "Let the River Run," Working Girl (1988)
  12. "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  13. "Under the Sea," The Little Mermaid (1989)
  14. "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
  15. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," The Lion King (1994)
  16. "Beauty and the Beast," Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  17. "I'm Easy," Nashville (1975)
  18. "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
  19. "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
  20. "Fame," Fame (1980)
  21. "Theme from Shaft," Shaft (1971)
  22. "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
  23. "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
  24. "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
  25. "Take My Breath Away," Top Gun (1986)
  26. "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
  27. "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
  28. "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
  29. "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
  30. "A Whole New World," Aladdin (1992)
  31. "Flashdance...What a Feeling," Flashdance (1983)
  32. "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)," Arthur (1981)
  33. "Last Dance," Thank God It's Friday (1978)
  34. "Colors of the Wind," Pocahontas (1995)
  35. "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)," Dick Tracy (1990)
  36. "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  37. "For All We Know," Lovers and Other Strangers (1970)
  38. "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
  39. "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
  40. "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
  41. "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
  42. "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
  43. "It Goes Like It Goes," Norma Rae (1979)
  44. "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
  45. "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
  46. "I Just Called to Say I Love You," The Woman in Red (1984)
  47. "Up Where We Belong," An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
  48. "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
  49. "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
  50. "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
  51. "Evergreen (Theme from A Star Is Born)," A Star Is Born (1976)
  52. "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
  53. "You Light Up My Life," You Light Up My Life (1977)
  54. "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
  55. "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  56. "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
  57. "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
  58. "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
  59. "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)
  60. "Say You, Say Me," White Nights (1985)
  61. "The Morning After," The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  62. "We May Never Love Like This Again," The Towering Inferno (1974)