By CORY SKLAR
It's Oscar season again, which means close to nothing to music nerds. Most of the time, of course, the Oscars bring very little to the table in terms of great music. Sure, they have their Best Original Song and Best Score categories. And sure, sometimes Three 6 Mafia, Trent Reznor, or Bret from Flight of the Conchords will get honored, but usually the nominations are reserved for legendary bores like Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Bonnie Raitt, or Sir Elton. We already can't wait to change the channel during the Les Mis performance or take multiple shots while playing some drinking game involving Adele's James Bond song. Amazingly, though, this year's music-Oscars situation isn't all bad. Here are 10 songs from Academy Award-nominated movies that don't suck.
10. Booker T. & The MGs, "Hip Hug Her" from Argo
We went into a screening of Argo expecting awesome 70s dystopian sci-fi robots and kick-ass special effects and what did we get? A bunch of dudes in leisure suits talking for two hours and Ben Affleck naked in the shower. NO THANK YOU, SIR! One thing Argo did have going for it was its groovy period soundtrack, featuring this undeniably funky track by the masters of the studio, Booker T. & The MGs. This track has that famously fuzzed-out Donald "Duck" Dunn bassline that sticks in your brain, and was later sampled by The Jungle Brothers, Heavy D, Ice Cube and Das Efx. A stone-cold classic.
9. Buckner & Garcia, "Wreck It, Wreck It Ralph" from Wreck It Ralph
Whoever did the music supervision for Disney's animated love letter to '80s arcade games had their head on straight. Selecting Buckner and Garcia was a total win. Humans of a certain age will no doubt remember Buckner and Garcia from their massive hit "Pac Man Fever." We remember watching them on TV when we were a kid and thinking, "Holy crap, these dudes are way too old to be singing about Pac Man" -- so they must be like 100 now. Nevertheless, hearing this track blast in the theater during the credits was a total delight. We're glad B&G are still working and got that big ol' Mickey Mouse check.
8. Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash, "Girl From the North Country" from Silver Linings Playbook
This movie, man. It totally manipulated our emotions. We tried to fight it, but we couldn't. David O. Russel's character study of suburban beautiful people with mental illness actually has a lot of good songs in it. The best of these track selections are highlighted during this beautiful scene in which J-Law teaches Brad Coop how to dance with feeling. This was the first time we'd heard this particular Dylan-Cash collab, and it just worked. (We predict this flick takes it all, by the way -- Best Picture and everything. You heard it here first, people.)
7. Rare Earth, "Hey Big Brother" from Silver Linings Playbook
Another awesome song from the No. 1 rom-com about mentally ill people of 2012. David O. Russel places this track over a scene in which the main character is at a rather rowdy Philadelphia Eagles tailgating party with, yes, his big brother (groan). We love this band so much. They are considered the first white hitmakers on the Motown label (there were other white acts on Motown, but none as successful as Rare Earth). They even had their own satellite label before that was hip! These dudes absolutely slayed. Everyone should seek out their records; they're usually pretty cheap in the used bins.
6. Rodriguez, "Crucify Your Mind" from Searching For Sugar Man
Like most people, we were not aware of Rodriguez before we saw Searching For Sugar Man. Rodriguez was a dude that made some records in the late '60s and early '70s that failed to take off in the States, but became huge cultural touchstones in South Africa. Rumor had it that Rodriguez was dead, but it turns out he was just bumming around Detroit being a weird street guy. He's performing again and he's awesome. If you haven't seen this movie then do yourself a favor and watch it. It's good. So are his records.