The Oscar Warrior: Original Song Craziness Begins!

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The 39 songs up for the Original Song category at the 84th Annual Academy Awards have just been announced and our first thought was, “Really? There are that many songs from movies? How did we miss them?”

Of course, we already know and love the songs from Disney’s The Muppets and we’re personally pushing for “Man or Muppet,” but we’re also not surprised to see a bunch of songs from Fox’s animated Rio in the running as well as Oscar fodder like Chris Cornell’s “The Keeper” from Machine Gun Preacher. We’re also delighted to see OK Go’s “The Greatest Song I Ever Heard” from Morgan Spurlock’s POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold in the list, but then there are songs and movies we’ve never heard of like the three songs from something called “DAM999.”

Chances are that songs from musicals like “Where the River Goes” from Craig Brewer’s Footloose and strong dramas like The Help, which has something called “The Living Proof” (We’ve seen the movie three times and we don’t remember it), or Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey (“When the Heart Dies”) might get nominated by their use in the movies.

But what gave us the biggest kick were some of the rules and the process for how the songs are nominated, courtesy of the press release on Deadline:

On Thursday, January 5, the Academy will screen clips featuring each song, in random order, for voting members of the Music Branch in Los Angeles. Following the screenings, members will determine the nominees by an averaged point system of voting.

Okay, that sounds logical enough, watching the songs in the way they’re used in the movie, but then we get to this bit:

If no song receives an average score of 8.25 or more, there will be no nominees in the category. If only one song achieves that score, it and the song receiving the next highest score shall be the two nominees. If two or more songs (up to five) achieve that score, they shall be the nominees.

So that means that this category could end up with no nominees or two nominees or five nominees… but all of the songs need to get a score of 8.25 or higher, which seems pretty tough, unless the Music Branch of the Academy tend to score things pretty high normally.

Under Academy rules, a maximum of two songs may be nominated from any one film. If more than two songs from a film achieve a score of 8.25 or more, the two songs with the highest scores will be the nominees.

And under that rule, we can totally see The Muppets getting two nominations because they’ll be watching the songs as used in the movie, in that case, with Muppets, which will definitely help their case.

To be eligible, a song must consist of words and music, both of which are original and written specifically for the film. A clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition of both lyric and melody must be used in the body of the film or as the first music cue in the end credits.

That seems logical enough–essentially the definition of “Original Song”–and it will be interesting to see how these rules apply to the 39 offerings and which ones get in, as well as how producer Brian Grazer decides to present the nominations, whether it’s with the original artists or differently.