The Academy Awards are used to stiff competition — just not usually in the Best Original Song category.
After nominating only two contenders for Best Original Song in 2012, and stacking the deck in 2013 by pitting Adele against the likes of Hugh Jackman, for the 2014 Academy Awards, the music categories could give the Best Actor slate a run for its competitive money.
This year’s nominees include Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O and director Spike Jonze, who are nominated for “The Moon Song” from her with Karen O writing the music and Jonze contributing lyrics. They’re squaring off against Pharrell’s “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, along with U2’s “Ordinary Love” from Mandela, Kristen Anderson-Lopez/Robert Lopez’ “Let it Go” from Frozen and Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel’s “Alone Yet Not Alone” the theme from Alone Yet Not Alone as performed by Joni Eareckson Tada, a quadriplegic evangelical Christian author, radio host and activist.
If that last one has you stumped, you’re alone, yet not alone. “Alone Yet Not Alone” — both film and song — are among the year’s most obscure Oscar nominees. The film received a limited release in September, specifically within the Christian market. The film was put out by Enthuse Entertainment, a company that focuses on “God-honoring, faith-based, family-friendly films that inspire the human spirit to seek and know God.” The film is apparently a true-life historical drama set in 1755, that tells the story of two young sisters captured by native Americans during a raid on their family’s farm and was based on the novel by Tracy Leininger Craven who completed its first draft when she was just 9 years old.
How did the Academy track down the relatively obscure song “Alone Yet Not Alone” over more widely available songs like, say, Lana Del Rey’s song from The Great Gatsby or Taylor Swift‘s contribution to One Chance, which was co-written by fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff? (Both artists were snubbed by the Academy this year.) Apparently through some well-placed grass roots of campaigns. As Deadline reports, the song’s co-songwriter, Silverado composer Bruce Broughton, is a former Governor of the Academy and used to run its music branch. William Ross, who wrote the score for the film, was the conductor of the Oscar ceremony’s orchestra last year and will reprise the role this year.
While behind-the-scenes campaigning may have gotten the theme from Alone Yet Not Alone on the ballot, it seems unlikely that the song will take the home the Oscar. U2 is the most likely frontrunner for “No Ordinary Love,” their soaring ode to Nelson Mandela, but don’t underestimate Frozen‘s “Let It Go,” written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and recorded by both Demi Lovato and Idina Menzel. The Disney film’s soundtrack has knocked Beyoncé’s Beyoncé out of the Billboard 200 album charts’ top spot for two straight weeks.
Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett (who also performs as Final Fantasy) have also been nominated in the Original Score category for their work on Her. They’re up against the scores for The Book Thief, Gravity, Philomena, and Saving Mr. Banks.
Listen to the Best Original Song nominees: