Diane Warren remembers her Oscar-nominated songs, from ‘Mannequin’ to ‘Grateful’

Diane Warren has an unmatched reputation for composing ear worms for movies. With “Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights,” she has returned to the Oscar race with her seventh nomination after a 13-year absence. HitFix recently spoke to her about work on that film, her previous nominated songs and her return to the race.

HitFix: What”s it like to be back in the Oscar race?

Diane Warren: It”s awesome. I love it. There have been songs I”ve done since [my last nomination] – I wrote a song for Cher, “You Haven”t Seen the Last of Me,” that won the Golden Globe. It didn”t get nominated [for the Oscar] and I thought it would. This year, the night before the nominations, I thought, “There”s no chance. Look at the list of superstars.” No one really saw this movie, as amazing as it is, but I kind of pushed on my own because I take matters into my own hands. But still, after all that, I thought, “I”m not going to wake up at 5:30.” But 5:30, I got up, and I started getting emails and texts and I was like, “Are you kidding me!?” I was lying in bed with my cat and I flew out and my cat flew with me!

How did you end up composing original songs for films?

A lot of things I do are for movies but a lot of things I do aren”t for movies. When I was a kid, my Dad said he would support me if I went to college. I didn”t want to go to college so I took a bunch of film courses at college in California. I sat at the back of class watching these amazing movies and knew that”s what I wanted to do.

Does your approach change depending on who is singing the song?

I always just try to write a great song. None of these songs I”ve been nominated for did I know who I was writing for. A great song can be sung by different artists.

What was your first Oscar nomination like for “Mannequin?”

It was a long time ago and it was the only one I didn”t write myself; I had a co-composer. How do you get inspired to write a song about a guy that”s in love with a mannequin and that”s the movie”s story?? I never saw it coming as a “classic.” I never thought of that at all. Another one like that was “Coyote Ugly” – it”s become a kind of cult classic and I never saw that coming.