Some of the most beloved and popular songs were written for and first appeared in movies, even if the movie itself has been completely forgotten (e.g. you probably know “Lullaby of Broadway,” but probably don’t remember Gold Diggers of 1935). The Academy Awards recognizes movie music with the Best Song prize. In retrospect, sometimes the right song wasn’t always given the Oscar. Here are some songs that should have won Oscars.
1947: Woody Woodpecker cartoons haven’t been regularly shown in movie theaters or on TV for decades, but in the 1940s, the character was enormously popular in pre-feature animated shorts. In 1947, songwriters George Tibbles and Ramey Idriss wrote the now familiar “The Woody Woodpecker Song” for the cartoon “Wet Blanket Policy.” (We’ll wait while you get it stuck in your head.) It’s the first—and only—time a song from an animated short received a Best Song nomination. A recording of the song by Gloria Wood was one of the biggest hit songs of the year, but the Oscar ultimately went to “Buttons and Bows” from a Jane Russell western about Calamity Jane called The Paleface.
1972: Michael Jackson’s first real solo performance was “Ben,” a love song that a lonely teenaged Jackson wrote about a pet rat. It was then used in the horror movie Willard, went to #1, and showed the world that Jackson was a viable act without the Jackson 5. It lost the Best Song prize to “The Morning After” from The Poseidon Adventure.
1979: “It Goes Like It Goes,” the theme song from the labor union Norma Rae surprisingly won the Oscar over “Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie.
1980: The title song from “Fame” was a #1 hit, and Fame was a well-received movie, but the song’s true achievement is the competition it beat to win the Best Song award at the Oscars: Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” from Honeysuckle Rose and Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five” from Nine to Five.