Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Singing the praises of 1996!

No, I wasn't in a movie in 1996, but I'm awesome and I'm singing, so...

No, the 1996 Fisti Awards are not ready, but they are wrapping up and in the process of wrapping them up I've found that one category in particular is surprisingly VERY hard to narrow down this year.  I'm talking about Original Song.  I say 'surprising' because every year I find myself scrambling to even come up with a top five, let alone a top twelve, and in some years I just gave up the fight altogether and settled on five I felt were respectable enough to nominate despite not being in love with all of them.

But that is not the case in 1996.  

I'm just going to throw it out there, but 1996 may be the single best year for original movie music, ever, and there are two or three entire albums that are the reason for this.

There is a bounty of awesome to be found on these soundtracks, and quite honestly I could fill an entire ballot of five strictly from these soundtracks alone.  But just focusing on the standout tracks, it's still tough to nominate anyone else.  The funny thing is that Oscar didn't nominate a single song from any of these three movies, not even The Hunchback of Notre Dame, despite being Disney and containing some brilliant music.

Just give a listen to three tracks from each soundtrack to see how diverse and deserving these original songs really are:

I'm Kissing You

#1 Crush

Local God

I know, the two rock tracks (from Garbage and Everclear respectively) are not very Oscary songs, but how in the world did I'm Kissing You miss the cut?  That song is beautiful, and it is used in the most memorable scene in the film.

Hit 'Em High

I Believe I Can Fly

For You I Will

I'm not delusional enough to think that Hit 'Em High actually had a chance to be Oscar considered, and it really wouldn't even have a chance in today's world, where Eminem has an Oscar, but the song is pretty much cartoon rap perfection and is just a brilliant nod to the film...but really, how the hell did I Believe I Can Fly miss out with Oscar?  Wasn't that like THE song of 1996?  It was everywhere and everyone loved it.  It would basically be the equivalent of Let it Go getting snubbed last year.  I'm kind of flabbergasted.

God Help the Outcasts

The Bells of Notre Dame

Heaven's Light / Hellfire

The only way that I can explain these snubs, or God Help the Outcasts in particular, is that this music was just too dark for the Academy.  This music is so epic in scope and so full that maybe it was hard for voters to handle.  It's still a pretty stinging snub, especially when you consider that these songs are probably some of the deepest, most poignant songs Disney has ever put out.

But there is so much more from this year that we're not even considering yet.  I mean, first, look at Oscar's top five songs:

Now, there is obvious bait here, and two of these songs are kind of cringe worthy in retrospect, but You Must Love Me is a beautiful winner, Because You Loved Me is still one of the most beloved Celine Dion songs of all time and That Thing You Do is just one of the coolest Oscar nominees ever in this category.  So, on top of the nine I already mentioned, there are three more from this pool that are truly worthy in every way.

But I'm not finished.

Can we just talk about how it's a complete and utter shame that I Believe in You and Me was not eligible.  This is almost as shame worthy as when Whitney covered I Will Always Love You to magnificent heights and was shutout at the Oscars.  I mean, sometimes a remake of a song is so damn good you almost wish there were a way it could be honored.

I mean, damn.

But you know what was eligible?  Don't Let Go from the film Set it Off, which was another BIG hit in 1996.  LOL, maybe the Academy was racist.  R. Kelly and En Vogue had two of the biggest songs of the entire year and they were snubbed in favor of stuffy white people music.

I mean, how can you watch this music video and NOT want to vote for them?

And then there was that Muppet's Treasure Island movie that was full of mediocre original songs, so we won't talk about them here.

So, there is my rant for the day.  Trying to finalize my personal ballot is a real bitch, but it's also a great blessing to find a year where the cup runs over with notable and really deserving songs.  Spanning many genres and developing rich lyrics, themes and attitude, these songs are all just great.  1996 was an incredible year for film, and the bounty of riches in this category is only one example of how great it really was.


  1. Oh no, fucking Celine Dion. I hate Celine Dion. I would've chosen any of the songs from Romeo + Juliet over all of these songs... except for That Thing You Do! above anything else.

  2. I'm sorry, I just scrolled down here immediately after I saw you mention HIT 'EM HIGH.

    FUCK everyone who doesn't love that song. Damn, Fisti. Just...


  3. So much nostalgia here! Embarassed to say that I never got to see Space Jam! Read something recently that it's website is still active and hasn't been updated since 1996 hahaha vintage!

  4. Yes! Space Jam and Hunchback had so many awesome songs.

  5. I don't know why I can't reply to any of your comments! It's pissing me off.

    WHAT! I'll never understand Celine hate. Like, she's pretty much awesomeness personified! LOL, but I agree with you that Romeo + Juliet and That Thing You Do are pretty much tops this year.

    You did notice that I noted that as one of the best songs of the year, right?

    You need to see Space Jam! One of the best soundtracks ever, and such a nostalgic piece of my personal childhood.

    Totally agree!

  6. Man, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is so underrated. The music especially, which features some of the best male vocals in a Disney movie (from Quasimodo). This post makes me so nostalgic! I had Space Jam and The Hunchback of Notre Dame on vhs.

    This year really was outstanding!

  7. I know!!! I had Space Jam and Romeo + Juliet on VHS. I actually didn't see Hunchback until a little over a year ago. I'm just baffled that it never garnered traction in this category.

  8. Awesome post! This year is RIDICULOUSLY overloaded on original songs. I haven't seen Up Close and Personal, Set it Off or That Thing You Do yet, though it's still tough to narrow it down to 5 nominees.

    Currently my lineup is:

    "I Believe I Can Fly", Space Jam
    "Kissing You", Romeo + Juliet
    "Shiver My Timbers", Muppet Treasure Island
    "Walls", She's the One*
    "You Must Love Me", Evita

    I also nominate the scores of Romeo + Juliet and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, respectively.

    1. O

      You need to see That Thing You Do!!!! It's firmly in my top ten of the year and gets a handful of Fisti noms as well. Such a great movie!

    2. I'll definitely get to it once I'm done with my CinSpec posts this fall. :)

  9. No mention of the songs from James & The Giant Peach?

    1. They are good. Family is GREAT! I meant to mention the soundtrack, but Family is the only song that would currently make my top 12, so it wasn't as influential in the making of this post.