My position on award shows like the Emmys and the Oscars is pretty simple: I think the whole exercise is very silly, this attempt to find an objective winner in a totally subjective format, but I also think that, if we’re going to insist on doing it (and it sure seems like we are), then we might as well try to get it right. It’s a good policy in a lot of ways, but mostly because it allows me to be dismissive of the things I don’t care about while also getting unreasonably angry about the things I do. It’s good to bake a little hypocrisy into your positions. Gives you some wiggle room. It’s why I never understood how “have your cake and eat it too” is a bad thing. Try to stop me from eating my own cake once I have it. Seriously. I dare you. You might lose a finger.
All of which is to say that I’m mad about the Best Song category at this year’s Emmy awards. Look at this list of nominees.
- The Black Godfather, “Letter to My Godfather” — Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo
- Euphoria, “All For Us”‘ — Labrinth
- Late Week Tonight With John Oliver, “Eat Shit, Bob” — David Dabbon, Joanna Rothkopf, Jill Twiss, Seena Vail
- Little Fires Everywhere, “Build it Up — Ingrid Michaelson
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, “One Less Angel” — Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore
- This is Us, “Memorized” — Siddhartha Khosla, Taylor Goldsmith
- Watchmen, “The Way It Used To Be” — Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
I bear no ill will toward any of these nominees and wish them well in this and all their future endeavors, but you see the problem here, right? The glaring omission? I assume you picked up on it by now because you clicked on the article and saw both the headline and large image at the top of the page, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: How the hell is “Misbehavin’” from The Righteous Gemstones not on this list?
You remember “Misbehavin’,” right? I’m sure you do. In fact, I bet you just got it out of your head as recently as last week. And now it’s back in there because I mentioned it again. I’m sorry but also you are welcome. It’s so good and fun that it’s almost a good thing to have it stuck in your head for weeks at a time. Very few songs can pull off that trick. Usually, after about four or five hours or so you’re ready to scream and banish the songs to the fiery depths of hell forever. Not with this one. I just listened to it again for maybe the 200th time and I still giggled at “Runnin’ through the house with a pickle in my mouth.” It might be my favorite song from any television show this year. It’s kind of perfect because, like, on one hand, it’s such a weird and specific example that it barely makes sense, but on the other hand, picture a little boy running around his house with an entire pickle in his mouth and then picture his mom chasing after him and shouting “Stop running around the house with a pickle in your mouth!” Misbehaving confirmed.
I refuse to believe all of these songs are better than “Misbehavin’.” I don’t even need to listen to them to know it. It’s not the only upsetting omission, either. “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” was such an invasive little earworm that I had it buried in my skull for a week despite the fact that I did not watch a single episode of The Witcher. And while I’m glad to see a song from Watchmen get nominated, I’m annoyed that it wasn’t “Nun With a Motherfucking Gun,” which I had been calling “The Regina King Doing Cool Stuff Song,” because it usually played while her character was… well, doing cool stuff. But their title is good, too.
If you want to be very technical about this, I suppose you could point out that this song does not have any lyrics, and is therefore not a great candidate for a category with the full title of “Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics,” but please consider this: the song’s title contains a twelve-letter cuss word that Regina King’s character shouted multiple times on the show. There’s nothing stopping us from creating a remix with her shouting emmeffers over the instrumental track. Bingo bango, problem solved
But mostly, this is about “Misbehavin’.” Watch the video again. Watch how Walton Goggins and Jennifer Nettles sell it. Look at their extremely on-point “Christian sibling duo singing an upbeat song about the dangers of Satan” energy. And then remember that the song was actually an important part of the plot. It was a big deal! This wasn’t some song someone else sang in the background while other action took place. It was performed in its entirety by two important characters and played a large part in explaining the strained relationship between the main family and their primary antagonist. How does that not get a nomination?! I’m so angry I could… I could… okay, I’m probably not going to do anything beyond writing this article, but still. I am doing that. Which is kind of a lot for me. We’re coming up on 1,000 words here.
Are there more consequential snubs to focus on? Sure. Rhea Seehorn did not get a Best Actress nomination for her work on Better Call Saul, which is madness to a degree that it taints the entire proceedings. How can we take any of this seriously if they can’t even get the simplest part correct? It’s like when the Oscars didn’t nominate Paddington 2 for Best Animated Movie. I mean, these are layups. These are gimmes. Or, to put it all another way that I’m going to apologize for ahead of time and again afterward…
Could have picked the good ones
Picked some others anyway
Yeah, again, I don’t feel great about that, but they forced my hand. This all could have been avoided so easily.