Those Left Behind II: Reviewing A Very Sparse Original Song Category*

*I workshopped a Left Behind II: Tribulation Force joke for about five minutes for this post before finally giving up, mostly since there’s no joke I could make about that film that anyone would get. I tend to be a little inside baseball, I know, but I’m not that inside baseball.

There was an announcement the other day that the Academy Award producers had decided the show would not include live performances of the two songs nominated in the Best Original Song category. While one part of me was sad that there would be no Muppets singing on the show, the other part of me (there’s only two parts of me) thought “well, it would seem pretty odd to have musical performances, but then only have two of them.” Because there are, as you might have guessed, only two songs nominated in that category.

That’s not hyperbole, or anything. I’m not saying “it’s a neck-and-neck race!” There are literally only two songs nominated this year.

I don’t understand the voting system in place for this category, nor do I care to. I understand that there are often not even five good original songs most years. Sometimes there’s not even three. The Age of Loggins is over.

But I’m perfectly fine with the Academy saying “we’re gonna have five songs nominated every year, and some years most of them will be terrible.” You know, like we do in every other category.

This year, voters will have a choice between a Muppet song that isn’t even the best in its own movie (“Man or Muppet” is great, but it doesn’t really compare to “Life’s A Happy Song”), and a Sergio Mendes song from a forgettable kid’s movie.

Both songs feature one or the other of the two members of Flight of the Conchords. It is not surprising to me the Oscar producers didn’t want to showcase the songs – it would just have made it more obvious how silly the category is this year.

The Golden Globes managed to nominate five songs this year, from movies like The Help and Albert Nobbs and from musicians as varied as Elton John, Chris Cornell, Brian Byrne, Mary J. Blige, and Madonna, and none of those songs were nominated in this category. The Academy made 39 different songs eligible this year, including tracks from Jonsi, Robbie Williams, and nineteen-time Oscar nominee Alan Menken. Evidently there just wasn't room for artists of such limited talent or films of such little credibility.

I mean, after all, this is a category that has nominated such legendary performers such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Three 6 Mafia, Eminem, Shel Silverstein (!), Janet Jackson, the dude from Fountains of Wayne, and the South Park guys. Randy Newman has been nominated twenty times. "Chim, Chim, Cher-ee," "I've Had The Time of My Life," and "You Light Up My Life" all won this award at one point. But evidently we can't have Elton John about mucking the place up.

Fix the category, Motion Picture Academy. But don’t feel the need to jam those songs into the Oscar ceremony every year. Because for every this…

 …there’s also this. This song won the Oscar that year.

Not to mention this. Uruguayan singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler was apparently not enough of a big name to sing at the Oscars, so the producers decided that a performance from Antonio Banderas and a possibly-hungover Carlos Santana was in order.