Famous Movie Songs to Lose an Oscar

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To lose an Oscar is better than winning a less prestigious award because an Oscar nominee, regardless of being a winner or loser, becomes an integral part of the movie’s history. Organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscars were first given in a ceremony at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood in the year 1929. The Academy Award for the Best Original Song is one of the more than a dozen categories of the Academy Awards. The Academy members nominate the song after it has been evaluated on a special scale ranging from six to ten. In order for a song to be nominated, it must achieve not less than an 8.25 score. In case no contestant qualifies with this bare minimum requirement, no nomination would be made. Until 1945 there was no restriction on the number of submissions for nominations; as 14 songs were nominated in 1945. With the changed rules, nominations are currently within the range of two to four, seldom exceeding five.

1. ‘Carioca’

Gus Kahn
Gus Kahn

‘Carioca’ by Edward Eliscu and Gus Kahan is a 1933 popular song which was choreographed for the movie Flying Down to Rio. It was nominated for the 7th Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost to ‘The Continental’ from the 1934 movie, The Gay Divorcee. ‘Carioca’ was sung in the movie by Alice Gentle, Movita Castaned, and Etta Motten. RKO, Radio-Keith-Orpheum Pictures, Incorporated, an American film production and distribution company, named both of these songs as the King and Queen of ‘Carioca.’ The word ‘Carioca’ stands for ‘the inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro.’ The movie was a hit, and many critics opined that it was mainly due to ‘Carioca.’ The song became a jazz standard, but the dance, originally intended to be performed by the partners with their foreheads touching, did not remain. Notable recorders of the song include: Max Steiner, Artie Shaw and his orchestra, Jack Jones, and Caetano Veloso.

2. ‘Before My Time’

Chasing Ice
Chasing Ice (poster)

‘Before My Time’ was the song from the movie Chasing Ice nominated for the Best Original Song at the 85th Academy Awards in 2012. It lost to the song ‘Skyfall’ from the movie of the same name. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on February 25, 2013. It was viewed in more than 100 countries by 42.4 million viewers. Chasing Ice is a documentary which included scenes from a calving at Jacobshavn Glacier. ‘Before My Time,’ the song for which the movie received the Academy Award Nomination, was written by J. Ralph and performed by Scarlet Johansson and Joshua Bell. The documentary was photographed by James Balogand with an intention to create awareness about the impact of melting glaciers on the climatic changes and the environmental impact.

3. ‘Happy Working Song’

Stephen Schwartz
Stephen Schwartz

‘Happy Working Song,’ from the 2007 Disney film Enchanted was written by Stephen Schwartz and performed by the movie’s lead actress Amy Adams. It was nominated in the category of the Best Original Song at the 80th Academy Awards ceremony in 2007. In the film, Amy Adams was singing ‘Happy Working Song’ while she was being helped by the woodland animals like pigeons, rats, and cockroaches in cleaning an untidy apartment. The song was written in appreciation of the Disney songs, including ‘Whistle While You Work’ from the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The song paid homage to the songs from Cinderella in particular to ‘The Work Song.’ The 80th Academy Awards ceremony was broadcast by the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on February 24, 2008.

4. ‘I’ve Seen It All’


‘I’ve Seen It All’ is a song from the movie Dancer in the Dark. It was written by Sjon and Lars von Trier and performed by the Icelandic singer Bjork. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in the 73rd Awards ceremony held in 2004. Expectations were high from the song, but it lost to ‘Things Have Changed’ from the movie Wonder Boys. ‘I’ve Seen It All’ was sung by Bjork, who arrived at the ceremony in a gown with a fake swan on it. A Debenhams poll, published in the Daily Telegraph in 2008 named it the 9th most iconic of all time red carpet dress. It was, however, criticized for being too outlandish for the occasion.

5. ‘Dead Man Walking’

 'Dead Man Walking'
‘Dead Man Walking’ (poster)

‘Dead Man Walking’ is a song from the American crime drama film of the same name. The movie was directed by Tim Robbins and starred Susan Sarandon. Tim Robbins was nominated for Best Director and Bruce Springsteen for Best Song. The story is about a special relationship between Sister Helen Prejean and Poncelet, a prisoner on Death Row. The song was nominated in 1995 at the 68th Academy Awards ceremony, but it lost to ‘Colors of the Wind’ from Pocahontas written by Stephen Schwartz. The 68th Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, California on March 25, 1996.

6. ‘Promise Me You’ll Remember’

Promise Me You'll Remember
Promise Me You’ll Remember

‘Promise Me You’ll Remember’ is a song from the movie The Godfather, III. It was written by Carmine Coppola and sung by Harry Conick. The song was nominated in the category for Best Song in a Movie and a Golden Globe for the Best Original Song, 1991. It lost to ‘Sooner or Later; I Always Get My Man,’ from the movie Dick Tracy. Carmine Coppola died of a heart attack, and Francis Coppola, one of the most influential Hollywood film directors, opined that the failure of Carmine Coppola to win the Oscar was the cause of the failure of his heart and ultimate death.

7. ‘The Power of Love’

'The Power of Love'
‘The Power of Love’

‘The Power of Love’ is a 1985 song by the San Francisco base pop rock band, Huey Lewis and the News. It was written for the 1985 movie Back to the Future. It was nominated for the 58th Academy Awards but lost to ‘Say You, Say Me’ from the movie White Nights. ‘The Power of Love’ was a number one hit on the U.S. Billboard’s chart and the band’s second number one hit on the U.S. Top Rock Tracks. The song appears once in the early stages of the movie and again during a Battle of the Bands audition near the end of the movie.

8. ‘Candle on the Water’

Pete's Dragon
Pete’s Dragon (poster)

‘Candle on the Water’ is a song from the Walt Disney Pictures movie Pete’s Dragon. It was written by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn and sung by Helen Reddy. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song in 1977 but lost to ‘You Light Up My Life’ from the movie of the same name. In the movie, the song is sung by Nora who lived with her father in the lantern room of the lighthouse. She sung it for her lover who was lost at sea a year ago, but Nora believed in his return one day. The 50th Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

9. ‘Down Argentine Way’

'Down Argentine Way'
‘Down Argentine Way’ (poster)

‘Down Argentine Way’ is a musical movie by 20th Century Fox. ‘Down Argentine Way’ is also the song from this film. Its music was composed by Harry Warren, and its lyrics were written by Mack Gordon.  It was nominated for Best Original Song in 1940 at the 13th Academy Awards ceremony. The song lost to ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ from the movie Pinocchio. The Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Biltmore Bowl, Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California on February 27, 1941.

10.  ‘Be My Love’

Sammy Cahn
Sammy Cahn

‘Be My Love’ is a song from the 1950 movie The Toast of New Orleans directed by Norman Taurog, starring Mario Lanza, Kathryn Grayson, and others. Its music was composed by Nicholas Brodzsky, and the lyrics were written by Sammy Cahn while being sung by Kathryn Grayson. It was nominated for the Best Original Song in 1950 at the 23rd Academy Awards ceremony where it lost to ‘Mona Lisa’ from the movie Captain Carey U.S.A. The 23rd Academy Awards ceremony was held at the RKO Pantages Theatre, Hollywood, California. It was hosted by Fred Astaire.


Since 1929, the Academy Awards, now officially known as the Oscars, are awarded at a prestigious annual ceremony which is televised in more than 100 countries. Only the original songs specifically written for a movie that are clearly audible and intelligible in the body of the movie are eligible for nomination. Although there do exist a few exceptions, yet as an old tradition of the Academy Awards ceremony, the winning songs are performed live by the originators, and this adds enormously to the value of the song. There is nothing more delightful than viewing such a live performance. It is just like one original line drawn by Leonardo da Vinci which is undeniably better than millions of its reproductions.


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