Worst Oscar winners for best original song

Written by: Paul Horsman


Warning: the following article includes links to some truly awful songs.

It’s the Oscars this weekend.

We’re pretty sure La La Land is going sweep up the gongs in most categories, including best original song. That may be deservedly so, but does the Academy get it right each year?

We can think of at least five examples to support our claim that it doesn’t.

And, to add further embarrassment to the establishment, the songs we believe should have won didn’t even make it on their nominations list.

Let the shaming begin…

1972: The Morning After – Renee Armand (The Poseidon Adventure)

If you manage to get past the first 30 seconds of this dribble then hats off to you. Renee Armand may have had a Karen Carpenter quality to her voice, but the song is as flat as a griddlecake.

A much better choice would have been, well, anything from Curtis Mayfield’s rather excellent soundtrack to the film Superfly.

Sure, the equally excellent Theme Tune to Shaft (the film’s predecessor) won the previous year… but to not have been nominated at all? A blatant snub if ever there was one.

1977: You Light Up My Life – Kacey Cisyk (You Light Up My Life)

Urge. More intolerable schmaltz. But what possibly could have won instead?

Only every single song from Saturday Night Fever, one of the best selling soundtracks of all time having hijacked the top of the charts for 24 consecutive weeks while reinvigorating the career of the Bee Gees. So, you know, not much.

1984: I Just Called to Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder (The Woman in Red)

This was the year the Academy preferred red instead of purple, opting for Stevie Wonder’s worst song ever and ignoring three of Prince’s best (Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, Lets Go Crazy).

I mean, are you freakin’ kidding us!?

1985: Say You Say Me – Lionel Ritchie (White Nights)

The following year was a perfect opportunity for the Academy to redeem itself.

It could have chosen Simple Mind’s broody Don’t You Forget About Me, taken from one of the most iconic high school films of all time (The Breakfast Club). Or Madonna’s Get Into The Groove, the lead song from Desperately Seeking Susan that helped catapult her to superstar status. Or even A View to a Kill, Duran Duran’s half decent stab at modernising Bond.

But none of these were even considered by the panel. The buffoons.

1998: When You Believe – Mariah Carey & Whitney Huston (The Prince of Egypt)

It may have looked like a winning formula on paper: two huge divas interweaving their pipes on a power ballad about the miracles of self-belief. But what you got instead was two huge divas trying to out sing each other on a preachy pile of slush… which many would argue is exactly what it looked like on paper.

Aaliyah’s Are You That Somebody? may have come from an underwhelming film (Dr. Doolittle 2) but it overwhelmingly changed the sound of R&B and would have made the Academy seem relevant… had it won. But, alas, it was completely snubbed.

It would take another five years before anyone took the slightest bit of notice of this category, thanks to Eminem’s Lose Yourself.




Author: Paul Horsman

Paul likes writing. And music. It’s unclear whether he likes sharing his suggestions with others or simply likes unleashing an ugly critic within… but we allow him to write about music on The Void.

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