The Woman in Red: “I Just Called to Say I Love You”

1984 – From The Woman in Red: “I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder (performed song and wrote music and lyrics) 

Another hit that has endured over the years, this is nonetheless my least favorite of the five African-American-winning songs in the Academy's history. “Superstition” and “Higher Ground” this is not. More muzak than music, the song's instrumentals tend to put the listener into a slight daze, as if brainwashing me into giving in to its slight and painstakingly slow pleasures. It's a sweet song with a nice message (“I just called to say I love you” is much more sincere than what would ultimately be today's mantra: “I just texted to say we're breaking up.”) but it bored me all the same. And how did this beat fellow black nominee Ray Parker Jr.'s iconic song “Ghostsbusters” from the 1984 Ivan Reitman classic?

Best lyrics: “No summer's high, no warm July, no harvest moon to light one tender August night.”