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Oscars' Playlist Two Songs Shorter This Year As Star Power Reigns

Face it: When your Best Song Oscar competition is Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and the Weeknd, you’re considered a long shot. That’s what the songwriters and performers of a pair of nominees learned today when the Academy confirmed that “Simple Song #3” from Youth and “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction won’t be performed during the 88th Academy Awards next Sunday.

Last year, all of the nominated songs were performed on the show by their original artists — except one: Tim McGraw filled in for the ailing Glen Campbell to sing “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” the poignant song about the honey-voiced veteran’s struggle with Alzheimer’s from the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.

There certainly is no rule mandating that all Original Song nominees get stage time during the Oscarcast; the show’s producers make that call. But if the two passed-over tunes had been sung by, say, past Best Song nominees Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney, odds are they’d somehow be shoehorned into the show.

In days of Oscars old, it was standard practice for producers to wings-paul-mccartney-live-and-let-die-b-w-i-lie-around-apple-45-single-ex-cond_8845668cherry-pick a singer for a Best Song nominee. For instance, when McCartney’s Wings were vying for the hardware in 1974 with the James Bond tune “Live And Let Die,” it was not Sir Paul who sang it but Connie Stevens. In fact, that classic lost the Oscar to “The Way We Were” — performed that night not by Barbra Streisand but Peggy Lee. Going further, noted nonsingers Dyan Cannon, Jodie Foster and Telly Savalas (!) sang the three other nominees that year.

(Sidebar fun fact: Streisand’s take on Marvin Hamlisch’s “The Way We Were” topped the 1973 singles chart, but “Live And Let Die” peaked at No. 2. What kept it out of the top spot? “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure, which won the Best Song Oscar the previous year and was sung on the show not by original artist Maureen McGovern but by — you guessed it — Connie Stevens).

Back in those days, all five nominees always were performed on the show, usually in separate performances or occasionally as a medley depending on how the show was being produced. But in 1989, the year of the infamously bad Allan Carr-produced Oscar show, it was decided that none of the song nominees would be performed on the show. Instead, there were a lot of awful unrelated production numbers, including Rob Lowe singing with Snow White.

At some point, the Oscar show and its producers evolved, andmanta ray racing extinction the original artist almost always would be invited to perform their song on the show. It’s safe to say that no Oscar show producer would declare, in advance, that all five songs will be performed without first seeing the nomination list. J. Ralph, who co-wrote and sang “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction, was axed this year — as he was in 2012 when his song “Before My Time” (from another doc, Chasing Ice) was nominated. That year, the only Best Song nominee that was performed on the telecast was Adele singing “Skyfall,” which won the Oscar. The rest were covered using short clips as the nominees were being read on the show.

For the record, the three songs that made this year’s telecast cut and the singers who’ll perform them are “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground (Lady Gaga), “Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre (Sam Smith) and “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey (The Weeknd), which also won a Grammy this week.

  1. That’s a crying shame. So Dave Grohl will perform even though he”s not nominated, while Antony Hegarty gets left behind despite being nominated? Disgraceful! And I don’t have to be Trump to say that. LOL

  2. Simple solution: just do all the Best Songs as a half-hour pre-recorded leading directly into the Awards themselves, to replace ABC’s vacuous red carpet coverage. Not that red carpet coverage is necessarily bad, but ABC’s has gotten worse and worse over the past couple of years, so wresting that real estate away from them would be of great benefit to movies, TV and music.

  3. Shame on the producers. Simple Song from Youth was my vote. It is everything a winner in this category should be. The entire film builds to that final performance; the song is essential to the movie.

  4. either perform all the songs or none of the songs. cherry-picking is bullshit.

    and having some name perform the song without first giving the option to the song’s writer(s) is also bullshit.

    our celebrity culture is bullshit.

    rant over.

  5. In this season of political correctness, it is no surprise that such a decision was made. Yet again, a small group decides on what a larger group has already evaluated. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the “academy” is being manipulated for other purposes–one of which is TV ratings. I thought the “academy” choices was the focus of the event; no more, folks. We should have realized it a couple of years ago when the poster for the night – usually done by Academy artists – was instead a picture of the daytime TV talk show personality who was hosting that year.
    Yeah, real “academic” huh?

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