LOS ANGELES: A recent Grammy winner, a legendary rock band, a Broadway star belting out a girl-power ballad and an impossibly cool indie rocker have found themselves at the juncture of one of the most compelling Oscar races of the year: best original song.
It’s a category that has drawn big names and some drama of its own, and a lot of buzz around one song in particular that many girls and their parents are now playing in their heads; “Let It Go,” from Disney’s blockbuster animated film “Frozen.”
“The song category is the most interesting category in my opinion, and it’s drawn the biggest campaigning this year,” said Matthew Belloni, executive editor of trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter.
The best original song category drew attention early in the race when Oscars organizers revoked a nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” from an independent Christian faith movie of the same name, citing improper campaigning by the songwriter.
The remaining four contenders span a wide spectrum of genres: Grammy winner Pharrell Williams’ upbeat R&B ditty “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2,” Broadway star Idina Menzel’s inspirational interpretation of “Let It Go,” indie rocker Karen O’s dreamy ballad “The Moon Song” from “Her,” and U2’s rock-infused “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
All four acts will lend their star power on the Oscars stage on Sunday to sing the nominated tunes.
U2’s song benefited from a high-profile television performance last week on comedian Jimmy Fallon’s debut night on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” while Pharrell’s “Happy” has been heavily featured in a Fiat television commercial. Both songs have been getting regular radio airplay, and both acts have been performing at private parties to drum up buzz during the two-week Oscars voting period this month.
Karen O teamed up with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig for a duet on “The Moon Song,” which received attention from fans online and was released in a three-song extended play album.
But all three songs may be dwarfed by Disney’s “Let it Go,” which has been helped by what Belloni calls “the juggernaut that is ‘Frozen.'” The song has become a viral hit with more than 115 million views on YouTube and has helped the film’s soundtrack top the Billboard album chart for five weeks.
In addition to that, Disney has benefited from sing-along versions of the film, which is storming toward making $1 billion at the worldwide box office, becoming the second highest-grossing animated film of all time. “Frozen” is also the frontrunner for best animated film on Sunday.
“It’s in the tradition of the grand Disney musicals,” Belloni said. “I think voters are going to look at that and they’re going to say ‘This movie is successful in part because of this one song,’ and they’re going to vote for it.”