I can’t remember the last time there was this much active campaigning for the Best Original Song Oscar — perhaps this is what happens when the music branch actually thinks to nominate a handful of decent songs. (And “Alone Yet Not Alone,” but perhaps studios are capitalizing on the attention that scandal directed to the category in the first place.)
Disney’s holding concerts in jazz bars for “Frozen,” Pharrell Williams is generally inescapable on the scene, and now Warner Bros. is making moves on behalf of Spike Jonze and Karen O’s “The Moon Song,” the wispy, wistful love theme from “Her,” today releasing three versions of the song — one of them previously unheard — under the title “The Moon Song (Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture Her).”
The first two versions are, of course, the one performed by Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix in the course of the film itself, and the end-credits rendition by Karen O herself. The new one, meanwhile, sees the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman duetting with Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig. (That could really swing the vote with the Academy’s vast demographic of Vampire Weekend fans.)
The new recording is produced by J. Ralph, whom you may remember scored a surprise Oscar nod last year for his “Chasing Ice” theme “Before My Time” — also sung by Johansson. O describes the duet as “fulfilling a wish of my die-hard junior high self … It’s a dreamy tune.” (You can listen to the new version in the embed below.)
Will this make any difference? Not really, but it’s interest to see the effort. In most other years, I’d give “The Moon Song” a pretty strong shot at winning this, given their recent fondness for quirkier songs from more offbeat acts that play an active narrative role in films they actually love. With a more conventional powerhouse like “Let it Go” in the running this year, I’m less optimistic, but I’m rooting for them anyway.