Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

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

by Erik Luers
February 28, 2014 11:53 AM
  • |
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.”

  • |

More: Soundtrack

Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    


  • Mike | July 3, 2014 6:28 PMReply

    The Academy doesn't understand music in motion pictures period. "Happy" is a feel good song, but it was not used in the film at all. The only song that was used properly in the film was "Let It Go" from "Frozen." Disney really knows how to use music in their films that are a cengtral park of moving the story along. Other filmmakers need to learn from Disney.

  • Mr. Marin | March 2, 2014 6:44 PMReply

    I take it that 'Purple Rain' never happened. Oh.

  • Donella | February 28, 2014 4:30 PMReply

    I think Ray Parker Jr's "Ghostbusters" suffered the controversy from its similarity to Huey Lewis and the News "I Need a New Drug."

  • @IvoryJeff | February 28, 2014 3:41 PMReply

    As always, I love the opportunity to chop it up with fellow movie-lovers. Just wanted to respectfully point out a couple things in response to the comments so far.

    @ INDIENERD - This is not a list of what that the writer considers the best movie songs composed by blacks. It's a roundup of the five tunes that won the Oscar for Best Original Song.

    @ SOSGEMINI - Just looked it up and Prince won Best Original Song Score for the track Purple Rain, not When Doves Cry. I agree about the category being silly btw. Glad it's gone.


  • indienerd | February 28, 2014 12:47 PMReply

    You are mother effin' crazy to not include "When Doves Cry" or anything from the Color Purple. Shut this site down. PLEASE!

  • sosgemini | February 28, 2014 12:41 PMReply


    After number two, I just cant. :sigh:

    And what the heck was up with Prince winning for Song Score for When Doves Cry? Still don't get that category. Guess no one did hence it being eliminated. And wouldn't Ghostbusters also be a song score since the song was used throughout the film as a score theme? silly.

Follow Shadow and Act

Email Updates

Most "Liked"

  • Muted, Black & White First Trailer for ...
  • Omar Sy Takes a Dramatic-Romantic Turn ...
  • 'Life After Death' (Conflicting Portrait ...
  • 'Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black ...
  • Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs ...
  • Veronica and Efren Go on a Trip in Divisive ...
  • AAFCA Announces 2015 Special Achievement ...
  • Thankfully, 'The Equalizer' Gets an ...
  • First-Look at Seth Gilliam as Father ...
  • Pioneering Documentary Filmmaker William ...