The Golden Globes, which air Sunday on NBC, have never been known for embracing modern sounds when it comes to doling out the trophy for Best Original Song- Motion Picture. Sure, last year they gave it to Eddie Vedder for “Guaranteed” from “Into the Wild” and in 2003 U2 took home the statue for “The Hands the Built America” from “Gangs of New York.” But if you look back through the years (the first Globe for best original song was awarded in 1962), the biggest winner is the Mouse, hands down: music from Disney films have captured at least five Golden Globes and totally dominated the ’90s. (In a very rare move, music from Disney’s “Enchanted” did not win last year)
This year, two songs from Disney animated films are in contention: “I Thought I Lost You” from “Bolt” and “Down to Earth” from Disney/Pixar’s “WALL-E.”
“I Thought I Lost You,” written by Miley Cyrus and Nashville tunesmith Jeffrey Steele, and sung by Cyrus, is a chirpy, sweet kind of tune that voters tend to like, but it’s too lightweight for this year. “Down to Earth,” written by Peter Gabriel and composer Thomas Newman, and sung by Gabriel, carries more heft with its einvironmental message. It’s compellingly delivered by Gabriel and the music sways gently like the breeze Gabriel sings about and perfectly matches the mood of Wall-E, the loveable little trash compactor.
Also in contention is “Once in a Lifetime” from “Cadillac Records,” the story of Chess Records. Performed by Beyonce, it was written by a passel of folks: Beyoncé Knowles, Amanda Ghost, Scott McFarmon, Ian Dench, James Dring and Jody Street. It’s a nice song that serves the movie well, but doesn’t particularly stand on its own.
Clint Eastwood receives his second nomination in as many years in this category for the theme song to “Gran Torino,” written by Eastwood, his son Kyle, Michael Stevens, and Jamie Cullum, who sings the tune. It’s a quiet, lonely tune nicely rendered by Cullum, but it’s a pretty weak contender.
Last is “The Wrestler,” written and performed by Bruce Springsteen, who took home the Golden Globe for “Streets of Philadelphia” from “Philadelphia” in 1993. It is a sad, poignant song that perfectly reflects the downtrodden, broken spirit of the lead character, so beautifully played by Mickey Rourke.
It’s a mixed bag of nominees, but let’s look at what’s happened over the last several years to music in films. Time was, and it’s not too long ago, every artist clamored to get an original song in a movie and they were paid handsomely for the privilege, but the luster fell off that rose seven or eight years ago when soundtrack sales started to drop (along with music sales in general) and a song in a movie didn’t provide the career shot that it once could. Just think about it: It was only 10 years ago that the soundtrack to “Titantic” sold 11 million copies in the U.S. alone and spawned Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” To put that into context, only two theatrical soundtracks released in 2008 sold 1 million units: “Mamma Mia”and “Twilight.”
But back to this year’s race: The Golden Globes has a shot here to do the right thing and honor a song that not only mirrors the movie it is nominated for but stands on its own as a strong tune. Both “Down to Earth” and “The Wrestler” fit that criteria. We’ve giving a slight nod to Springsteen for “The Wrestler.” (And we’re going on record before the Oscar nominations are even announced that he’ll take home the Oscar for the song as well).