Seven songs that were robbed of their Oscar nomination

The Oscar voters should have done better.
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“ACROSS 110TH STREET” from Across 110th Street (1972)

“The Morning After” from Poseidon Adventure won the Oscar in 1972. It may be a bit overwrought, but it fit the rather silly melodrama of the movie rather well and it did become a decent-sized hit. And since there wasn’t much serious competition amongst the nominees that year (no one could see Michael Jackson winning for singing a love song to a rat in Ben), the win didn’t raise many eyebrows.

However, had Bobby Womack’s haunting funk song “Across 110th Street” been nominated as it should have been, “The Morning After” would be now viewed as one of the most unworthy winners of all time. Womack and JJ Johnson wrote the song for Barry Shear’s crime film of the same name. It’s a very good crime movie featuring a young Yaphet Kotto and the veteran Anthony Quinn in a culture clash between two cops investigating a murder in Harlem.

Womack’s song immediately establishes the scene and the tone. It certainly was significantly more worthy than the silly trifle of “Marmalade, Molasses & Honey” from The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean or the far-too-precious “Come Follow, Follow Me” from The Little Ark, both of which were recognized with nominations.

“STAYIN’ ALIVE” from Saturday Night Fever (1977)

You don’t have to love disco to recognize how culturally significant the genre was in the late 1970s. John Badham’s Saturday Night Fever caught that wave at its absolute height, and the soundtrack album by the Bee Gees was, for a while, the biggest-selling album of all time. It produced seven major hits. But still, the Academy didn’t see fit to nominate any of its songs.

Of all the omissions, “Stayin’ Alive” is the hardest to swallow. It is the best song on the album and it defined the central character and mindset of the film exceptionally well. Still, in a year that saw “You Light Up My Life” claim the prize, and humdrum pieces like “Candle on the Water” and “Someone’s Waiting for You” get nominations, nothing from Saturday Night Fever was deemed worthy. Three of the year’s five nominees in 1977 were from kid-focused movies, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that none were particularly interesting songs.