With the Oscars looming on the horizon, it seemed like a good time to put together a film-themed disc. Oh, sure, I could’ve gone with a collection of songs by artists who share their names with films…a little something by Tom Jones (winner of Best Picture, 1963), perhaps a track by the Grapes of Wrath (Best Picture nominee, 1940)…but, instead, I thought I’d open up the field a bit more and go with songs that share their titles with Best Picture nominees. These aren’t all of them by any means – keeping to the 15-song limit meant the omission of Madonna’s “Bad Girl” (1932), Dolly Parton’s cover of Collective Soul’s “Shine” (1996), and even Styx’s “Babe” (1995) – but I think you’ll agree that these tracks make for a diverse but highly enjoyable listening experience.
“You Can’t Take It With You,” Paul Kelly and the Messengers (So Much Water, So Close To Home) – Won, 1938.
The lead track on Kelly’s 1989 album is as good a way to start this compilation as any. If you’ve never listened to the Australian singer/songwriter, this might not be the best of his discs to start with, but it’s a fine opener.
“Wuthering Heights,” Kate Bush (The Kick Inside)
– Nominated, 1939.
Ms. Bush’s first big hit. Not in America, of course, but that’s only to be expected. Everyone knows we have terrible taste in music.
“For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Bee Gees (Size Isn’t Everything)
– Nominated, 1943.
If you like the Bee Gees at all but have never heard this disc, you owe it to yourself to check it out. It sold pretty crappily upon its release, but it’s one of my top 10 favorite albums of the ‘90s.
“Spellbound,” Siouxsie and the Banshees (Juju) –
One of those classic early Siouxsie singles that always livens up a compilation…which is a pretty strange effect for it to have, actually, given how she and the Banshees tend to get a bit gothic.
“Lost Weekend,” Lloyd Cole and the Commotions (Easy Pieces)
– Won, 1945.
On the first album, we were ready to be heartbroken. With this, the Commotions’ sophomore effort, Lloyd and the boys earned a spot in the upper reaches of the UK charts…and again the Americans opted out of embracing it. Maybe this time it was that definitely British Langer/Winstanley production style.
“Room at the Top,” Adam Ant (Manners & Physique)
– Nominated, 1959.
Mr. Ant enters the ‘90s with a hit, officially making him more than just an ‘80s artist. (Editor’s note: if you include 1995’s “Wonderful,” Ant actually had more hits in the ‘90s than he did in the ‘80s) “An eighteenth century brain / In a twenty-first century head.” Oh, so that’s why he went crazy!
“Ship of Fools,” World Party (Private Revolution)
– Nominated, 1965.
Karl Wallinger’s heard it both from my lips as well as those of my editor, but I skipped my prom to see World Party in concert when they were supporting this album. They’re still together, by the way. You should check out their latest disc, Dumbing Up; the US release contains a DVD of all their videos.
“A Man for All Seasons,” Robbie Williams (Johnny English)
– Won, 1966.
Robbie gets cheeky and delivers a mock Bond theme for Rowan Atkinson’s spy comedy. Unfortunately, it’s only available on the soundtrack to the flick…and, no, it’s not available for download individually. (Or at all, if you ask iTunes.)
“Deliverance,” The Mission (U.K.) (Carved in Sand)
– Nominated, 1972.
Somehow, I totally missed out on the Mission during their early years; I didn’t know anything about “Wasteland” or “Tower of Strength.” But when this song hit the local alternative radio station (and the video showed up on “120 Minutes”), I became an instant fan of Wayne Hussey and company.
“Goodbye Girl,” Squeeze (Cool for Cats) – Nominated,
You might think it was a really hard decision to include this track over Frank’s “Peyton Place” – nominated in 1957 – since I’m a major supporter of that underrated Squeeze album, but it came down to one simple memory: Glenn Tilbrook strolling around with his acoustic guitar and serenading a way-too-small audience with a performance of “Goodbye Girl.” And, suddenly, making my decision wasn’t very hard at all.
“Missing,” Everything but the Girl (Amplified Heart)
– Nominated, 1982.
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, of course, but in my mind, this is the song that destroyed Everything but the Girl for me. I still love it, but the remix resulted in the band almost entirely stripping the lovely jazz-pop stylings from their music and going all electronica. No, thanks.
“Working Girl,” Strawberry Zots (Cars Flowers Telephones)
– Nominated, 1988.
I could’ve gone with the identically-titled new wave hit by the Members, but, no, I try never to miss a chance to provide Mein Editor with a reminder of one of the formative bands in his music journalism career.
“As Good As It Gets,” Gene (Revelations) – Nominated,
I had to search high and low to even find a copy of this disc; it was the band’s third proper album, but the band’s US label had given up on breaking the band in the States, so they opted not to release it here. Funny thing is, it might well be my favorite of their four studio albums.
“Sideways,” Men Without Hats (Sideways) – Nominated,
You probably won’t have heard of this song. After all, it’s not “The Safety Dance” and it’s not “Pop Goes the World,” and once you get past those two songs, you’re past most people’s knowledge of Men Without Hats. This 1991 album found lead singer/songwriter Ivan Doroschuk getting his guitar-rock on; it didn’t sell terribly well, but it sounded pretty good nonetheless.
Primitives (Lovely) – Won, 2005.
Tracy Tracy was as cute as a button, and this single rightfully gave them 15 minutes of fame on both sides of the Atlantic. Unfortunately, the momentum wasn’t to last.