The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Ever notice that the word "music" doesn't appear anywhere in there? And yet the Academy takes it upon itself each year to choose the best original song from movie soundtracks. Beside the occasional dark-horse fluke in the form of Elliott Smith or Three 6 Mafia, those nominees usually blow -- and this year is no exception.
Save for Ryan Bingham's haunting "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart, the current Best Song ballot is a snoozer, with perennial favorite Randy Newman competing against himself thanks to dual nominations for his compositions for The Princess and the Frog. With the Oscars going down this Sunday, we decided to pick the real best film songs from 2009 -- especially seeing as how most members of the venerable Academy probably couldn't tell an MP3 from an 8-track.
"Roslyn" by Bon Iver and St. Vincent (Twilight: New Moon)
Yeah, we know: Twilight puts the "suck" in "bloodsucking." But the soundtrack to the series' second installment, New Moon, has lots of great songs, all exclusive to the disc. Even better than the lead track, Death Cab for Cutie's "Meet Me on the Equinox," is the sleepy, creepy "Roslyn," a collaboration between two of indie-rock's most striking singer-songwriters, Bon Over and St. Vincent.
"All is Love" by Karen O and the Kids (Where the Wild Things Are)
Although a rerecorded version of Arcade Fire's anthemic "Wake Up" is the song most people will associate with Spike Jonze's screen adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are, that track only appears in the film's trailer. It's Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs who's responsible for the vast majority of the soundtrack, including the heart-bursting "All is Love." Who knew O had it in her?
"We Love Violence" by Mycheal Danna and Jeff Danna (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus)
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' director, Terry Gilliam, is, of course, widely known for his work with Monty Python. But he's long been following his own warped and visually stunning path -- although Doctor Parnassus goes off on a decidedly Python-esque tangent during a bizarre musical number titled "We Love Violence." No, it's not an homage to A Clockwork Orange. It's about cops.
"Teenagers" by Hayley Williams (Jennifer's Body)
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Say what you want about Paramore's lead singer, Hayley Williams -- her voice is undeniably great, and the fact remains that she's the heir apparent to Gwen Stefani. In fact, it's long been speculated that it's only a matter of time before she ditches her glorified pop-punk band for greener pastures. For a teaser to what that day might sound like, Williams contributed the zesty, sweetly irresistible "Teenagers" to the Jennifer's Body soundtrack.
"Stu's Song" by Ed Helms (The Hangover)
"Doug, Doug, oh Dougie-Doug-Doug." What more need be said? Hands down, "Stu's Song" is the funniest onscreen musical moment of 2009 -- and one that underscores the warm poignancy that made The Hangover more than just a dumb, crass dude-flick. Although, yes, it is that, too.