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Top Ten Academy Award winners for “best song”

by Paul Traunero February 26, 2013
Top Ten Academy Award winners for “best song”

10. “My Heart Will Go On” — Titanic (1997)

Music: James Horner; Lyrics: Will Jenning

It’s impossible to deny the power of this song, both vocally and emotionally. Céline Dion perfectly channels the majesty of the Titanic, all while conveying the tragedy of the lives lost during its maiden voyage.


9. “A Whole New World” — Aladdin (1992)

Music: Alan Menken; Lyrics: Tim Rice

“A Whole New World” is a ballad from the Disney classic, Aladdin. The moment shared between the two primary characters, Aladdin and Jasmine as they sail through the night sky on a magic carpet is definitely a classic ‘90s childhood one.


8. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” — Dirty Dancing (1987)

Music: Franke Previte, John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz; Lyrics: Franke Previte

After uttering the famous line “nobody puts Baby in a corner,” actors Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey perform their iconic dance scene in the film Dirty Dancing. This song was recently sampled in “The Time (Dirty Bit)” by The Black Eyed Peas.


7. “Jai Ho” — Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Music: A. R. Rahman; Lyrics: Gulzar

“Jai Ho” was used for the epic Bollywood-inspired dance sequence during the end credits of Slumdog Millionaire. Not only did the film go on to win most of the Academy Awards for which it was nominated that year, including “Best Picture,” this was also the first Oscar winner to feature Hindi-style cinema.


6. “Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)” — Dick Tracy (1990)

Music and Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim

Dick Tracy is one of my favorite comic book film adaptations of all time. Although it’s hard to believe that Madonna actually starred in a decent movie during her career, she brings a vulnerable sensuality to her character, Breathless Mahoney, in this cabaret number.


5. “Under the Sea” — The Little Mermaid (1989)

Music: Alan Menken; Lyrics: Howard Ashman

Another childhood classic. This Calypso-style song was featured in the Disney animated film The Little Mermaid. I can’t help but wonder how many kids went on to become marine biologists due to this song. Life does seem pretty sweet under the sea!


4. “Over the Rainbow” — The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Music: Harold Arlen; Lyrics: E.Y. “Yip” Harburg

“Over the Rainbow” was performed by Judy Garland in her most memorable role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. The song has become a timeless classic, covered countless times and recognized worldwide.


3. “The Way You Look Tonight” — Swing Time (1936)

Music: Jerome Kern; Lyrics: Dorothy Fields

“The Way You Look Tonight” was performed by musical film star/dancer Fred Astaire as a serenade to co-star Ginger Rogers in one of the best musical comedies of the ‘30s. The song is sweet, endearing and surprisingly still relevant today.


2. “Moon River” — Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Music: Henry Mancini; Lyrics: Johnny Mercer

“Moon River” was a bittersweet victory for Audrey Hepburn, who always dreamed of singing on-screen. Unfortunately, her delicate vocals did not transfer well to the film adaptation of Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady three years later, as she was subsequently dubbed by American soprano Marni Nixon.


1. “Falling Slowly” — Once (2006)

Music and Lyrics: Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the fact that two virtually unknown indie musicians were able to achieve so much? Indie-folk at the Oscars! Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová wrote and performed all the songs on the soundtrack for Once.

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