Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover FX Orders Comedy Pilot on Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene From & Starring Donald Glover Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts Chadwick Boseman, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Rosario Dawson, Others Share Kisses in NY Times Shorts What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Here's the Character John Boyega Plays in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Here's the Character John Boyega Plays in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' Watch Zendaya, Kadeem Hardison, Tammy Townsend in Trailer for 'K.C. Undercover' Watch Zendaya, Kadeem Hardison, Tammy Townsend in Trailer for 'K.C. Undercover' Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Beyond The Lights, Beyond The Urban Narrative: When Marketing Gets In The Way of Story Beyond The Lights, Beyond The Urban Narrative: When Marketing Gets In The Way of Story Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Oscar's Best: Surveying The 5 Best Original Songs by African American Artists

Shadow and Act By Erik Luers | Shadow and Act February 28, 2014 at 11:53AM

Oscar's Best: Surveying The 5 Best Original Songs by African American Artists
6
Shaft Soundtrack

As the 86th annual Academy Awards are set to occur this Sunday evening at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, California, I've found myself, for one reason or another, thinking about a category I've never given much credence to: Best Original Song. 

Given the often high-wattage star power of the nominees, the category is often given far more attention than it deserves, in my opinion. The songs rarely fit prominently into the film (and occasionally just play over the closing credits) and often feel tacked onto a production, hiring a big star who can provide a toe-tapper to gain some Oscar love.

Perhaps I'm being too cynical and am going about evaluating these songs the wrong way. Maybe I should just take the songs at face value, give them an honest listen and judge them as stand-alone pieces of art. Forget the films they're in (it's worth noting that films about the creation of songs, i.e. OnceHustle & Flow often win Best Song as a rite of passage) and just rate them based on their own musically-inclined, aesthetic value.

This Sunday, pop sensation Pharrell has a good chance of nabbing an Academy Award for his immensely popular hit “Happy” from last summer's Despicable Me 2. If he were to win he would be only the sixth black artist to win in this category since its inception in 1935 at the 7th Academy Awards. Anticipating this, I decided to take a look (or rather a listen) back at the past five African-American winners in the category, using the ever-helpful Spotify to relive their award-winning work.

On a side note, one thing to keep in mind is that the award honors the songwriters and not the singers who perform the song (although often the two are the same). But let's be honest: the better the song is recorded/performed, the better its chance at winning; production most certainly matters.

1971 – From Shaft: “Theme from Shaft” by Issac Hayes (performed song and wrote music and lyrics)

This song has become quite iconic over the past forty-three years and for good reason. Judged as a stand-alone piece of work removed from the film, the song, lyric-less for the first two minutes and forty-five seconds, still works, telling a story of a guy who everyone – man, woman and child – is in awe of. I visualized everyone moving off the sidewalk when they saw this bad mother (shut your mouth) walking by, hoping for just one glance of the man they call Shaft.

Best lyrics: “Who's the cat that won't cop out, when there's danger all about? Shaft.”


This article is related to: Soundtrack


Shadow & ActNewsletter