Seven unworthy songs that should have never won a Best Song Oscar

These tracks should have been winners.
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When Barbie’s “What Was I Made For?” wins the Oscar for Best Original Song this Sunday, I will say to myself “Well – I may not have voted for it, but it is definitely a worthy winner.” I won’t complain about it – not out loud, at least. The award itself is rather ill-defined – is it meant to go to the best song, the best production, or the best use of a song in a movie? Voters kind of mix and match those criteria and come up with something. Usually, in my experience, they just go with the one they can sing in the shower.

The award has been given out since 1934 and it has morphed a bit over the years. The number of nominees has fluctuated madly. But the basic requirement has remained inviolate. It has to be a song composed and recorded for use in the movie.

So please, no angry rants about why Barbie’s “Closer to Fine” didn’t get a nod. Unless Emily Saliers and Elizabeth Ray were remarkably clairvoyant, I don’t think they wrote that song back in 1989 for eventual inclusion in a movie 34 years later.

Seven songs that won Best Original Song Oscars but should not have

I’m going to run through seven times when the Oscars voters simply whiffed on their selection of best song. I mentioned Billie Eilish’s Barbie song at the beginning because I want you to know I’m not the type of opinionated blowhard who thinks everything I happen to like is by definition the best.

I mean, in 2019, I would have chosen Joshua Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo’s “Stand Up” from Harriet over eventual winner “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from the Elton John biopic Rocketman. And it has nothing to do with my well-documented distrust of songs that use parentheses in their titles. I just think Erivo’s song is a little better. But I don’t deny that Elton and Bernie Taupin wrote a pretty good song too. The gap isn’t that big. So that one doesn’t make my list.

No – I’m only choosing egregious examples. So even though I may not be right all the time, I am right about these seven. That doesn’t mean I won’t be demoting some fine songs along the way. It’s not like the winners were bad songs. It’s just that there were better choices – better by a fairly wide margin. We all knew it at the time, and history has born it out.

So, with that little lead-in, here are seven times the Academy plum got it wrong.