In a bold move, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently decided to place more rigid qualifications for its Best Original Song category. Academy voters will now rank songs and only those that average an 8.25 out of a scale of 6-to-10 will make the cut. If no songs average that score, then the Academy will skip the category for the year. Blame Three 6 Mafia.
For the past few years (give or take "Once," which rightfully won two years back), the Oscars have missed the boat on best song nominations and often award ho-hum picks. Case in point: they left off Eddie Vedder for his stellar and inspiring work on "Into the Wild" in 2007, and last year omitted Bruce Springsteen's poignant title track for "The Wrestler." But, the issue over music and motion pictures goes far beyond the Oscars. Since the Oscars are trying to revamp itself by changing this category (they were also ballsy to change the Best Picture nomination selection from 5-to-10), it's time studios followed suit and brought back the epic movie theme song.
For far too long, studios have been phoning in soundtracks with retro cuts, lame B-sides, inane cover songs, and hit songs that don't quite fit (Green Day's "21 Guns" seems like it's just a last minute throw-in by Michael Bay for "Transformers II"). Gone are the days of theme songs that climb the top of the charts, and win our hearts effortlessly. I'm talking to you, Seal. Yes, studios need to go back to the 1980s and 1990s because somewhere Peabo Bryson is weeping uncontrollably, and we've got to stop the bleeding.
The Snorks decade alone where James Ingram, Peter Cetera, and Kenny Loggins churned out hit theme song after hit theme song is a prime example. Would there have been a "Top Gun" without Kenny Loggins riding shotgun as Michael Gross' evil twin in the video of "Danger Zone?" Hell-to-the-no. Would "Karate Kid Part II" have been half as engaging without the winning "Glory of Love" that preceded it in all that Cetera mullet glory? No.
As '80s cheese gave way to frivolous city in the '90's, theme songs were still all the rage and most of them were from Bryan Adams and Celine Dion. Let's face it...the only redeeming thing about Kevin Costner's "Robin Hood" was the "Everything I Do" theme that accompanied it. Last year, Seth Rogen had the right idea by having Huey Lewis and the News record a throwback-styled theme for "Pineapple Express." While it didn't resonate with fans the way I'm sure Rogen would've hoped (not to mention I personally thought the film was a turd), it was a wonderful experiment that should be tried again. Sometimes a little cornball is exactly what the world needs. So Celine Dion if you're listening, pump your chest, and call your agent and try to get in on some summer flick action. I bet you could come up with quite the lovely song about the rise of Cobra Commander.