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.