Monday, February 27, 2012

Oscar Best Song Winners Ranked








In light of yesterday’s Oscar ceremonies, the DMDB blog looks back today on all the winners in the Best Song category. How much does winning an Oscar confirm classic status on a song? 34 of the 78 Oscar-winning songs also rank in the top 1000 songs of all time. If one uses the DMDB list as a marker of iconic songs, winning an Oscar makes for just shy of a 44% chance that the song will “go down in history.” By comparison, a few weeks ago I ranked the Grammy winners for Song of the Year and Record of the Year. 56 out of 80 made the DMDB top 1000 list, a 70% rate. While a much better percentage, one still as to question why the Grammys didn’t come pretty close to perfection when picking classics.

Meanwhile, the Oscar for Best Song is, by its nature, going to be more fickle since it is a much more limited base from which to choose. There have definitely been songs which are integrally linked to their movies which haven’t been honored. Bill Haley’s “We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock” (The Blackboard Jungle) and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (The Bodyguard) immediately come to mind. Still, the Oscar-winning writers are a who’s who of quintessential songwriters and composers including Harold Arlen, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Hal David, Marvin Hamlisch, Oscar Hammerstein II, E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, Jerome Kern, Alan Jay Lerner, Frank Loesser, Frederick Loewe, Henry Mancini, Alan Menken, Johnny Mercer, Tim Rice, Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Paul Williams. In addition, a number of notable singers have put their songwriting stamp on Oscar, including Phil Collins, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Carly Simon, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Wonder.

Anyway, without further ado, here are how all 78 winners stack up against each other (along with a video of one of the songs from each decade of Oscar songs):

Year: “Song” Performer Associated Most with Song * (Composers) Title of Movie

* May not necessarily be who performed the song in the movie



1. 1942: “White Christmas” Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers (Irving Berlin) Holiday Inn
2. 1997: Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” (James Horner/Will Jennings) Titanic
3. 1939: “Over the Rainbow” Judy Garland (Harold Arlen/E.Y. “Yip” Harburg) The Wizard of Oz
4. 1977: “You Light Up My Life” Debby Boone (Joe Brooks) You Light Up My Life
5. 1973: “The Way We Were” Barbara Streisand (Marvin Hamlisch/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman) The Way We Were
6. 2002: “Lose Yourself” Eminem (Marshall Mathers/Jeff Bass/Luis Resto) 8 Mile
7. 1983: “Flashdance…What a Feeling” Irene Cara (Irene Cara/Giorgio Moroder/Keith Forsey) Flashdance
8. 1944: “Swinging on a Star” Bing Crosby with the John Scott Trott Orchestra & the Williams Brothers Quartet (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) Going My Way
9. 1936: “The Way You Look Tonight” Fred Astaire with Johnny Green & His Orchestra (Jerome Kerns/Dorothy Fields) Swing Time
10. 1948: “Buttons and Bows” Dinah Shore & Her Harper Valley Boys (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans) The Paleface



11. 1937: “Sweet Leilani” Bing Crosby with Lani McIntire & His Hawaiians (Harry Owens) Wakiki Wedding
12. 1984: “I Just Called to Say I Love You” Stevie Wonder (Stevie Wonder) The Woman in Red
13. 1950: “Mona Lisa” Nat “King” Cole (Raymond Evans/Jay Livingston) Captain Carey, U.S.A.
14. 1971: “Theme from Shaft” Isaac Hayes (Isaac Hayes) Shaft
15. 1961: “Moon River” Henry Mancini with Audrey Hepburn (Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer) Breakfast at Tiffany’s
16. 1969: “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” B.J. Thomas (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
17. 1940: “When You Wish Upon a Star” Cliff Edwards (Ned Washington/Leigh Harline) Pinocchio
18. 1943: “You’ll Never Know” Dick Haymes with the Song Spinners (Harry Warren/Mack Gordon) Hello, Frisco, Hello
19. 1953: “Secret Love” Doris Day (Paul Francis Webster/Sammy Fain) Calamity Jane
20. 1976: “Evergreen” Barbra Streisand (Barbra Streisand/Paul Williams) A Star Is Born



21. 1982: “Up Where We Belong” Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes (Will Jennings/Jack Nitzsche/Buffy Saint Marie) An Officer and a Gentleman
22. 1993: “Streets of Philadelphia” Bruce Springsteen (Bruce Springsteen) Philadelphia
23. 1987: “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes (Frank Previte/John DeNicola/Donald Markowitz) Dirty Dancing
24. 1946: “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe” Johnny Mercer & the Pied Pipers (Harry Warren/Johnny Mercer) The Harvey Girls
25. 1992: “A Whole New World” Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle (Alan Menken/Tim Rice) Aladdin
26. 1945: “It Might As Well Be Spring” Dick Haymes (Oscar Hammerstein II/Richard Rodgers) State Fair
27. 1947: “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” Johnny Mercer (Allie Wrubel/Ray Gilbert) Song of the South
28. 1985: “Say You, Say Me” Lionel Richie (Lionel Richie) White Nights
29. 1935: “Lullaby of Broadway” The Dorsey Brothers with Bob Crosby (Harry Warren/Al Dubin) Gold Diggers of 1935
30. 1981: “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” Christopher Cross (Burt Bacharach/Christopher Cross/Carole Bayer Sager/Peter Allen) Arthur



31. 1986: “Take My Breath Away” Berlin (Giorgio Moroder/Tom Whitlock) Top Gun
32. 1955: “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” The Four Aces (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster) Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
33. 1938: “Thanks for the Memory” Shep Fields with Bob Goday (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin) The Big Broadcast of 1938
34. 1978: “Last Dance” Donna Summer (Paul Jabara) Thank God It’s Friday
35. 1934: “The Continental” Leo Reisman (Jerb Magidson/Con Conrad) The Gay Divorce
36. 1952: “High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)” Tex Ritter (Ned Washington/Dmitri Tiomkin) High Noon
37. 1991: “Beauty and the Beast” Celine Dion with Peabo Bryson (Howard Ashman/Alan Menken) Beauty and the Beast
38. 1966: “Born Free” Roger Williams (John Barry/Don Black) Born Free
39. 1954: “Three Coins in the Fountain” The Four Aces (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) Three Coins in the Fountain
40. 1956: “Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera Sera)” Doris Day (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans) The Man Who Knew Too Much



41. 1949: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Johnny Mercer with Margaret Whiting (Frank Loesser) Neptune’s Daughter
42. 1962: “The Days of Wine and Roses” Henry Mancini (Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer) Days of Wine and Roses
43. 1994: “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” Elton John (Elton John/Tim Rice) The Lion King
44. 1965: “The Shadow of Your Smile” Tony Bennett (Johnny Mandel/Paul Francis Webster) The Sandpiper
45. 1980: “Fame” Irene Cara (Michael Gore/Dean Pitchford) Fame
46. 1999: “You’ll Be in My Heart” Phil Collins (Phil Collins) Tarzan
47. 1959: “High Hopes” Frank Sinatra (Sammy Cahn/James Van Heusen) A Hole in the Head
48. 1970: “For All We Know” The Carpenters (Jimmy Griffin/Fred Karlin/Robb Wilson) Love and Other Strangers
49. 1958: “Gigi” Les Baxter (Frederick Loewe/Alan Jay Lerner) Gigi
50. 1941: “The Last Time I Saw Paris” Kate Smith (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II) Lady Be Good



51. 1972: “The Morning After” Maureen McGovern (Al Kasha/Joel Hirshhorn) The Poseidon Adventure
52. 1996: “You Must Love Me” Madonna (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice) Evita
53. 1963: “Call Me Irresponsible” Frank Sinatra (Sammy Cahn/James Van Heusen) Papa’s Delicate Condition
54. 1998: “When You Believe” Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey (Stephen Schwartz) The Prince of Egypt
55. 1951: “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” (Bing Crosby with Jane Wyman (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer) Here Comes the Groom
56. 1960: “Never on Sunday” Don Costa (Manos Hadijidakis/Billy Towne) Never on Sunday
57. 1957: “All the Way” Sammy Cahn (Sammy Cahn/James Van Heusen) The Joker Is Wild
58. 1975: “I’m Easy” Keith Carradine (Keith Carradine) Nashville
59. 1995: “Colors of the Wind” Vanessa Williams (Alan Menken/Steve Schwartz) Pocahontas
60. 1968: “Windmills of Your Mind” Noel Harrison (Michael Legrand/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman) The Thomas Crown Affair



61. 1988: “Let the River Run” Carly Simon (Carly Simon) Working Girl
62. 1964: “Chim Chim Cheree” Julie Andrews with Dick Van Dyke, Dotrice, & Garber (Richard Sherman/Robert Sherman) Mary Poppins
63. 1974: “We May Never Love Like This Again” Seals & Croft (Dash Crofts/Jimmy Seals) The Towering Inferno
64. 1967: “Talk to the Animals” Rex Harrison (Leslie Bricusse) Doctor Dolittle
65. 1979: “It Goes Like It Goes” Jennifer Warnes (David Shire/Norman Gimbel) Norma Rae
66. 1989: “Under the Sea” Samuel Wright (Howard Ashman/Alan Menken) The Little Mermaid
67. 1990: “Sooner or Later” Madonna (Stephen Sondheim) Dick Tracy
68. 2007: “Falling Slowly” The Swell Season (Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova) Once
69. 2000: “Things Have Changed” Bob Dylan (Bob Dylan) Wonder Boys
70. 2001: “If I Didn’t Have You” Billy Crystal & John Goodman (Randy Newman) Monsters, Inc.



71. 2003: “Into the West” Annie Lennox (Fran Walsh/Howard Shore/Annie Lennox) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
72. 2004: “Al Otro Lado Del Rio (On the Other Side of the River)” Jorge Drexler (Jorge Drexler) The Motorcycle Diaries
73. 2005: “It’s Hard Out Her for a Pimp” Three 6 Mafia (Jordan Houston/Cedric Coleman/Paul Beauregard) Hustle & Flow
74. 2006: “I Need to Wake Up” Melissa Etheridge (Melissa Etheridge) An Inconvenient Truth
75. 2008: “Jai Ho” Pussycat Dolls (A.R. Rahman/Gulzar) Slumdog Millionaire
76. 2009: “The Weary Kind” Ryan Bingham (Ryan Bingham/T-Bone Burnett) Crazy Heart
77. 2010: “We Belong Together” Randy Newman (Randy Newman) Toy Story 3
78. 2011: “Man or Muppet” Jason Segel, Peter Linz, Bill Barretta, and Jim Parsons (Bret McKenzie) The Muppets



Winners by Year:
• 1934: “The Continental” Leo Reisman (Jerb Magidson/Con Conrad) The Gay Divorce
• 1935: “Lullaby of Broadway” The Dorsey Brothers with Bob Crosby (Harry Warren/Al Dubin) Gold Diggers of 1935
• 1936: “The Way You Look Tonight” Fred Astaire with Johnny Green & His Orchestra (Jerome Kerns/Dorothy Fields) Swing Time
• 1937: “Sweet Leilani” Bing Crosby with Lani McIntire & His Hawaiians (Harry Owens) Wakiki Wedding
• 1938: “Thanks for the Memory” Shep Fields with Bob Goday (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin) The Big Broadcast of 1938
• 1939: “Over the Rainbow” Judy Garland (Harold Arlen/E.Y. “Yip” Harburg) The Wizard of Oz
• 1940: “When You Wish Upon a Star” Cliff Edwards (Ned Washington/Leigh Harline) Pinocchio
• 1941: “The Last Time I Saw Paris” Kate Smith (Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II) Lady Be Good
• 1942: “White Christmas” Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers (Irving Berlin) Holiday Inn
• 1943: “You’ll Never Know” Dick Haymes with the Song Spinners (Harry Warren/Mack Gordon) Hello, Frisco, Hello
• 1944: “Swinging on a Star” Bing Crosby with the John Scott Trott Orchestra & the Williams Brothers Quartet (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) Going My Way
• 1945: “It Might As Well Be Spring” Dick Haymes (Oscar Hammerstein II/Richard Rodgers) State Fair
• 1946: “On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe” Johnny Mercer & the Pied Pipers (Harry Warren/Johnny Mercer) The Harvey Girls
• 1947: “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” Johnny Mercer (Allie Wrubel/Ray Gilbert) Song of the South
• 1948: “Buttons and Bows” Dinah Shore & Her Harper Valley Boys (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans) The Paleface
• 1949: “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” Johnny Mercer with Margaret Whiting (Frank Loesser) Neptune’s Daughter
• 1950: “Mona Lisa” Nat “King” Cole (Raymond Evans/Jay Livingston) Captain Carey, U.S.A.
• 1951: “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening” (Bing Crosby with Jane Wyman (Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer) Here Comes the Groom
• 1952: “High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me)” Tex Ritter (Ned Washington/Dmitri Tiomkin) High Noon
• 1953: “Secret Love” Doris Day (Paul Francis Webster/Sammy Fain) Calamity Jane
• 1954: “Three Coins in the Fountain” The Four Aces (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) Three Coins in the Fountain
• 1955: “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” The Four Aces (Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster) Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing
• 1956: “Whatever Will Be Will Be (Que Sera Sera)” Doris Day (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans) The Man Who Knew Too Much
• 1957: “All the Way” Sammy Cahn (Sammy Cahn/James Van Heusen) The Joker Is Wild
• 1958: “Gigi” Les Baxter (Frederick Loewe/Alan Jay Lerner) Gigi
• 1959: “High Hopes” Frank Sinatra (Sammy Cahn/James Van Heusen) A Hole in the Head
• 1960: “Never on Sunday” Don Costa (Manos Hadijidakis/Billy Towne) Never on Sunday
• 1961: “Moon River” Henry Mancini with Audrey Hepburn (Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer) Breakfast at Tiffany’s
• 1962: “The Days of Wine and Roses” Henry Mancini (Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer) Days of Wine and Roses
• 1963: “Call Me Irresponsible” Frank Sinatra (Sammy Cahn/James Van Heusen) Papa’s Delicate Condition
• 1964: “Chim Chim Cheree” Julie Andrews with Dick Van Dyke, Dotrice, & Garber (Richard Sherman/Robert Sherman) Mary Poppins
• 1965: “The Shadow of Your Smile” Tony Bennett (Johnny Mandel/Paul Francis Webster) The Sandpiper
• 1966: “Born Free” Roger Williams (John Barry/Don Black) Born Free
• 1967: “Talk to the Animals” Rex Harrison (Leslie Bricusse) Doctor Dolittle
• 1968: “Windmills of Your Mind” Noel Harrison (Michael Legrand/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman) The Thomas Crown Affair
• 1969: “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” B.J. Thomas (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
• 1970: “For All We Know” The Carpenters (Jimmy Griffin/Fred Karlin/Robb Wilson) Love and Other Strangers
• 1971: “Theme from Shaft” Isaac Hayes (Isaac Hayes) Shaft
• 1972: “The Morning After” Maureen McGovern (Al Kasha/Joel Hirshhorn) The Poseidon Adventure
• 1973: “The Way We Were” Barbara Streisand (Marvin Hamlisch/Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman) The Way We Were
• 1974: “We May Never Love Like This Again” Seals & Croft (Dash Crofts/Jimmy Seals) The Towering Inferno
• 1975: “I’m Easy” Keith Carradine (Keith Carradine) Nashville
• 1976: “Evergreen” Barbra Streisand (Barbra Streisand/Paul Williams) A Star Is Born
• 1977: “You Light Up My Life” Debby Boone (Joe Brooks) You Light Up My Life
• 1978: “Last Dance” Donna Summer (Paul Jabara) Thank God It’s Friday
• 1979: “It Goes Like It Goes” Jennifer Warnes (David Shire/Norman Gimbel) Norma Rae
• 1980: “Fame” Irene Cara (Michael Gore/Dean Pitchford) Fame
• 1981: “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” Christopher Cross (Burt Bacharach/Christopher Cross/Carole Bayer Sager/Peter Allen) Arthur
• 1982: “Up Where We Belong” Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes (Will Jennings/Jack Nitzsche/Buffy Saint Marie) An Officer and a Gentleman
• 1983: “Flashdance…What a Feeling” Irene Cara (Irene Cara/Giorgio Moroder/Keith Forsey) Flashdance
• 1984: “I Just Called to Say I Love You” Stevie Wonder (Stevie Wonder) The Woman in Red
• 1985: “Say You, Say Me” Lionel Richie (Lionel Richie) White Nights
• 1986: “Take My Breath Away” Berlin (Giorgio Moroder/Tom Whitlock) Top Gun
• 1987: “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes (Frank Previte/John DeNicola/Donald Markowitz) Dirty Dancing
• 1988: “Let the River Run” Carly Simon (Carly Simon) Working Girl
• 1989: “Under the Sea” Samuel Wright (Howard Ashman/Alan Menken) The Little Mermaid
• 1990: “Sooner or Later” Madonna (Stephen Sondheim) Dick Tracy
• 1991: “Beauty and the Beast” Celine Dion with Peabo Bryson (Howard Ashman/Alan Menken) Beauty and the Beast
• 1992: “A Whole New World” Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle (Alan Menken/Tim Rice) Aladdin
• 1993: “Streets of Philadelphia” Bruce Springsteen (Bruce Springsteen) Philadelphia
• 1994: “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” Elton John (Elton John/Tim Rice) The Lion King
• 1995: “Colors of the Wind” Vanessa Williams (Alan Menken/Steve Schwartz) Pocahontas
• 1996: “You Must Love Me” Madonna (Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice) Evita
• 1997: Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” (James Horner/Will Jennings) Titanic
• 1998: “When You Believe” Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey (Stephen Schwartz) The Prince of Egypt
• 1999: “You’ll Be in My Heart” Phil Collins (Phil Collins) Tarzan
• 2000: “Things Have Changed” Bob Dylan (Bob Dylan) Wonder Boys
• 2001: “If I Didn’t Have You” Billy Crystal & John Goodman (Randy Newman) Monsters, Inc.
• 2002: “Lose Yourself” Eminem (Marshall Mathers/Jeff Bass/Luis Resto) 8 Mile
• 2003: “Into the West” Annie Lennox (Fran Walsh/Howard Shore/Annie Lennox) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
• 2004: “Al Otro Lado Del Rio (On the Other Side of the River)” Jorge Drexler (Jorge Drexler) The Motorcycle Diaries
• 2005: “It’s Hard Out Her for a Pimp” Three 6 Mafia (Jordan Houston/Cedric Coleman/Paul Beauregard) Hustle & Flow
• 2006: “I Need to Wake Up” Melissa Etheridge (Melissa Etheridge) An Inconvenient Truth
• 2007: “Falling Slowly” The Swell Season (Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova) Once
• 2008: “Jai Ho” Pussycat Dolls (A.R. Rahman/Gulzar) Slumdog Millionaire
• 2009: “The Weary Kind” Ryan Bingham (Ryan Bingham/T-Bone Burnett) Crazy Heart
• 2010: “We Belong Together” Randy Newman (Randy Newman) Toy Story 3
• 2011: “Man or Muppet” Jason Segel, Peter Linz, Bill Barretta, and Jim Parsons (Bret McKenzie) The Muppets


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