This morning we kicked off our coverage of the upcoming Oscar season, more or less, with our annual list of contenders in each category and some misguided early predictions. One category we don't get around to until later in the season is Best Original Song as we meticulously add to our on-going list of potential nominees. But I can already tell one is going to blow the rest out of the water this season.
No, I'm not talking about a power ballad along the lines of last year's winner “Let It Go,” I'm talking about a modest track from John Carney's “Begin Again” that recalls 70s singer/songwriter magic of Carol King, Cat Stevens, etc. I'm talking about Adam Levine and Gregg Alexander's “Lost Stars,” which will be the big push from The Weinstein Company on the film.
Alexander is the former frontman of 90s rock band New Radicals (whose infectious “You Get What You Give” you'd have had to be living under a rock to have missed in 1998). He wrote the song and it's an absolute gem. Here is what Levine had to say about Alexander and the song when he stopped by The Howard Stern Show last week:
He's one of my favorite songwriters and he hasn't been around and he hasn't done anything in a long time. He wrote all the music for this movie. He's so talented. This is one of those songs I heard and I was just thinking to myself, “Man, I'm really pissed I didn't write that song.”
You'll recall that Carney's last film, “Once,” walked away with the Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007. That was for Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's moving “Falling Slowly.” Carney has a shrewd ability to make these original tracks sing (so to speak) within the context of his films and “Begin Again” (which screened at the Toronto Film Festival last year as “Can a Song Save Your Life?”) is treading similar waters.
Will it earn Alexander an Oscar by season's end? It very well could. The competition will come from films like “Into the Woods” and “Muppets Most Wanted,” among others. I'm partial to the bubbly title track from “Land Ho!,” personally. But I have a feeling this one will stand out the most.
Listen to Levine's Stern Show performance below and tell us what you think of “Lost Stars.”
Here, by the way, is “Begin Again” star Keira Knightley's rendition of the song from the film:
“Begin Again” is currently playing in limited release.