Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oscar Poop II: The Jennifer Warnes Years

We're surveying Academy Award winning songs, year by year, and we're getting bloated and gassy but we've got Tums to chew and poop to shovel so let's soldier onward...

1975: 'I'm Easy' (Nashville) The obvious choice although 'I'm Easy' is not nearly the rollicking singalong that 'It Don't Worry Me' is. It does however hold up fairly well as proto-sensitive-country-stud-shlock a la Keith Urban. Let's take a look at the other atrocities Oscar lined up for our listening pleasure: 'How Lucky Can You Get' (Funny Lady)Kander & Ebb phoning it in. Who sang it on the Oscarcast? Connie Stevens and some muppets probably. 'Now That We're In Love' (Whiffs)Ah yes, Whiffs. I'm pretty sure it was about mustard gas. 'Richard's Window' (The Other Side Of The Mountain)Not to be confused with Joni Mitchell's 'The Last Time I Saw Richard'. Olivia Newton-John sang it but it didn't make the cut on any of her Greatest Hits releases so I guess it was drivel. 'Theme From 'Mahogany' (Do You Know Where You're Going To)' I remember watching the Oscars in 1975 and Diana Ross lipsynched this on a bridge in Amsterdam via satellite dressed in white fur. The Boss was and is a freak of nature. The song's okay but all those key changes...

1976: 'Evergreen' (A Star Is Born). Godawful. Love soft as an easy chair? I'll take 'Ave Satani' (The Omen) anyday! I sing it on the subway, I whistle it while waiting in line @ Tillie's on DeKalb and Vanderbilt...I know all the lyrics by heart! Can you believe it took TWO WOMEN to conjure the lyrics for 'Gonna Fly Now' (Rocky). TWO!!!! "Trying hard now/it's so hard now/trying hard now..."

1977: 'You Light Up My Life' (You Light Up My Life) Well it was number one on the Billboard charts for most of 1977. You almost have to throw an Oscar at it...albeit at the expense of the best Bond theme ever: 'Nobody Does It Better' (The Spy Who Loved Me). Check out Aimee Mann's electrified, post-orgasmic tribute on 'Shaken and Stirred: The Best Of Bond'.

1978: 'Last Dance' (Thank God It's Friday). Quite simply, the right choice. I'm sure 'When You're Loved' (The Magic Of Lassie) was favored but 'Last Dance' endures. 'Hopelessly Devoted To You' (Grease) was also nominated...why do people go apeshit over the Grease Soundtrack? My theory is that we were all so proud that we persevered and held on to our allowances long enough to shell out the ten bucks for the double album. Because the music is, well, really gay. Maybe 1978 was the gayest year ever. I'm fairly certain it was.

1979: 'It Goes Like It Goes' (Norma Rae). Pretty brave choice, given the fact that it's depressing as all hell. You might think Lucinda Williams sings it on the soundtrack but it's really Jennifer Warnes, who sings roughly %40 percent of all Oscar-nominated songs over the next fifteen years. She didn't sing 'Rainbow Connection' (The Muppet Movie)however...that's Jim Henson and Frank Oz eating mushrooms and fiddling with new multi-tracking technology at Electric Ladyland.

1980: 'Fame' (Fame). The music branch of AMPAS really dropped the ball this year. 'Fame's' lyrics could have been scrawled on the back of a fricking Mead double-pocket Nadia Comenici folder by none other than that future schlockmistress herself, Linda Perry, they're so trite. Where's Blondie's 'Call Me' (American Gigolo)? "Roll me in designer sheets/I'll never get enough"? I'm sure even The Golden Globes had good sense enough to nominate that work of sheer brilliance...but not The Academy. These were dark, dark years for The Academy.

1981: 'Arthur's Theme' (Arthur). I rest my case.

1982: 'Up Where We Belong' (An Officer And A Gentleman). Safe, Jennifer Warnes-y comfort food: Although the thought of Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes lifting each other up where they belong makes me a little queasy. Also nominated: A muppet song, A Bond song, A Motown song ('Endless Love'), and the first of Randy Newman's gazillion Best Song nominations: 'One Hour With You' (Ragtime).

1983: 'Flashdance...What A Feeling' (Flashdance). As a rule, I'm not a fan of corporate 80's music in general and this cluttered, trendy piece of Eurotrash defies me to dance to it. Was this ever really hip? Flash dance? I know what I feel when I Flash Dance and that's a whole lot of crysal meth with my pants down around my ankles @ The Cock. ;) Also nominated this year: Rosie O'Donnell's queer mating call, "Tommy Can You Hear Me" from Yentl.

1984: 'I Just Called To Say I Love You' (The Woman In Red). I applaud the Academy for giving Stevie Wonder an Oscar but this song really, really bites. It sounds to me like it was written in 1883. I sometimes hear this in bodegas and Polish diners and it makes me feel unclean. 'Let's Hear It For The Boy' (Footloose) would have been the more savvy selection.

1985: 'Say You, Say Me' (White Nights). Crap! Ick factor = Off the charts. Lionel Richie gave us Nicole and this stewed, greenish-yellow turd. Thanks Lionel. Your funky bunch membership has been revoked...'Brick House' and 'Machine Gun' notwithstanding. Also nominated: Huey Lewis and more Lionel Richie. Bad music branch of The Academy! Bad!

1986: 'Take My Breath Away' (Top Gun). Because its Berlin, because it's vaguely new-wave-ish, and because it's not the hated 'Danger Zone' from the same soundtrack, I'm willing to give this Prom Theme a break , even though it vaguely reeks of wopatuli and pork rinds. Also nominated: 'Somewhere Out There' (An American Tail), 'Mean Green Mother From Outer Space' (Little Shop Of Horrors...not a bad pick really), some Henry Mancini poop from a bad Blake Edwards/Julie Andrews old-people comedy, and Peter Cetera.

1987: '(I've Had) The Time Of My Life' (Dirty Dancing). More Jennifer Warnes pop music to menopause to. I've never actually seen Dirty Dancing but I do remember the tight rolled up denim shorts phenomenon that made everyone's ass look flat. I ate soup at a table next to winning songwriter Frank Previte in The West Village a couple years back, that's my Oscar Brush With Greatness. Shame on the music branch of The Academy for not recognizing Willy DeVille's 'Storybook Love' (The Princess Bride). Mink DeVille was a great, great CBGB's mainstay and I love them.

1988: 'Let The River Run' (Working Girl). Movie tunes sucked so bad this year that the Academy could deem only three songs as nomination-worthy. Carly Simon triumphed over Phil Collins as all of America downed shots, smoked a victory bowl and went straight to bed.

1989: 'Under The Sea' (The Little Mermaid) Not so good but what're you gonna do? Pixar wasn't around yet, everything else nominated was puerile trash...fuckit!

More Oscar sniping to come...


Martin said...

The lyrics aren't Dylan or anything, but the first 8 measures of "Fame" don't move you to dance atop a cafeteria lunch table? "Hot Lunch Jam" is better even though it rhymes macaroni and baloney. As well as "On the Road Again" and "9 to 5". Wow, I love 1980.

Joe Schraufnagel said...

I'm sorry but the first 8 measures of 'Fame' is Giorgio Moroder Lite. Irene Cara deserved better. 'Red Light', the Linda Clifford number to which LeRoy showed the white folks what time it is was kind of cool, however...