Still reeling from the Academy’s decision to cut the Best Song performances out of this Sunday’s ceremonies, we’re fighting back with a list of Oscar-nominated movies that arguably have been eclipsed by their music. (Note: We’re not including any material from musician biopics or musicals, because that would be way too easy.) Chime in with your favorite theme song, backing track, or Oscar-winning tune in the comments.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey – “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” (1968)
The triumphant chords of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” which pummel their way over the opening credits of 2001, are inextricably linked with orchestral bombast and futuristic vibes of science-fiction films.
Whether you prefer the iconic Bill Conti original “Gonna Fly Now” or “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III, both Oscar-nominated songs have become inescapable accompaniment to innumerable commercials or mock-montages.
4. Live and Let Die – “Live and Let Die” (1973)
1973’s “Live and Let Die” remains a concert staple for Paul McCartney, and found new life as a Guns n’ Roses single in 1991, going way beyond the entertaining anonymity of the actual James Bond film.
5. Star Wars – “Star Wars Theme”(1977)
An easy inclusion — not so much for overshadowing the films as being as indelibly inked into the public consciousness as any character, storyline, or mangled Yoda malapropism.
6. Chariots of Fire – “Chariots of Fire” (1981)
Who has actually watched Best Picture winner Chariots of Fire since 1981? The real deal is the theme song by Vangelis, who aside from this infamous track, probably hasn’t gotten any airplay since 1981.
7. The Bodyguard – “I Will Always Love You” (1992)
With over 44 million copies sold, The Bodyguard soundtrack is the best-selling soundtrack of all-time. Whitney Houston soaring through “I Will Always Love You,” far outstrips the lackluster companion film, which was nominated for two Oscars.
8. Titanic – “My Heart Will Go On” (1997)
The formerly inconceivable box-office take of Titanic has since been conquered by Avatar, but the ubiquity of this song will go on… and on… and on… and on.
9. South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut – “Blame Canada” (1999)
The rousing songs from the South Park movie took Trey Parker’s Broadway fanaticism to profanity-spewing heights, and Robin William’s performance of “Blame Canada” at the 2000 Oscars was a Mountie-stomping kick-line highlight.
10. Slumdog Millionaire – “Jai Ho” (2008)
The Pussycat Dolls’ version of “Jai Ho” hit number one in five countries, but it’s A.R. Rahman’s original that truly seized upon the momentary American obsession with Bollywood.