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

These tracks should have been winners.
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Winner: “You Must Love Me”
Should have won: "That Thing You Do"

Had it been eligible, the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice song “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” would have been a worthy winner from Evita. But since they had written it twenty years earlier for the Evita concept album, it was not eligible for an Oscar. So they wrote a new, very pretty/very sad song for Madonna to sing late in the movie.

It’s sweet and poignant enough, but with its piano and cello orchestration, it remains oddly restrained. This song is very similar to the Billie Eilish/Finneas collab that is likely to win this year. “What Was I Made For” may engage in more musical pyrotechnics, but both songs fail to really soar when they should.

In 1996, there was a song that soared. It came from a little movie written and directed by Tom Hanks. The movie – and its song – were called “That Thing You Do!” The movie was about an underdog band of young rockers from Pennsylvania who have one brief brush with stardom. Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger set out to write a song that could be accepted as a one-hit wonder band’s one hit, and he nailed it.

The song is a joyous rocker that captures the youthful energy of a band of dreamers. Schlesinger, who was taken from the world by COVID a few years ago, claimed the song was almost a throwaway. Maybe there’s a lesson in that. Webber and Rice wrote their song to be a showstopper and indeed, it did win the golden statue. But time has been kinder to the little song from the little movie that almost never got made.

Winning the Oscar would have been nice. But almost thirty years later, I’ll still listen to “That Thing You Do.” I can’t say the same for the Evita tune.

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