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Friday, February 22, 2013

Top 10 Songs From This Year's Oscar-Nominated Movies That Don't Suck

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 9:43 AM



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.

5. Ella Fitzgerald, "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" from The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson's Scientology-inspired drama has been described by some as feeling like watching a fever dream. A study of sorts about the relationship between a leader and his follower, or a father and his son, The Master makes the viewer feel uncomfortable while remaining beautiful to look at. It's completely appropriate that this Irving Berlin song was used as background music during a more mundane scene. The arrangement is gorgeous, while the lyrical content is haunting. There is no way Phoenix or Hoffman are going to win any Oscars this year for acting, but damnit, they should.

4. Françoise Hardy, "Le Temps De L'amour" from Moonrise Kingdom

ARRGGGG Wes Anderson movies are THEE WORST. But they always have THEE BEST music! We'll get flack for this, but the sterile, symmetric aesthetics of his films are like visual nails on chalkboard to us. The pastels, the white people, the use of the Wilson Brothers. It's all too much! But the guy has a knack for selecting some fine music for his movies -- Roky Erickson, The Creation, Nico, and now the legendary Ms. Hardy. You can't go wrong with this one, folks.

3. The Jeff Beck Group, "Going Down" from Flight

Nope. We did not like Flight. We can't believe it's up for an Academy Award even. Oh it's just Denzel, up for another Best Actor award. Okay, that makes sense. Well at least it has this cool track from a pretty cool Jeff Beck Group album. Featuring the mighty Cozy Powell on drums completely killing it and Bob Tench from Humble Pie on vox. You might know the version of this song by Freddie King as the Eastbound and Down theme. This one's right up there, though: Some real downhome blues like blues hammer.

2. Ennio Morricone, "Rito Finale" from Django Unchained

It's kind of cheating putting a song from a Tarantino movie on this list. As much of an annoying twerp he is, you got to give him credit for his rad taste in music. A lot of the score for Django Unchaned is from older Italian films, including this track from the lord of the movie soundtrack himself, Ennio Morricone. We consider ourselves a bit of a Morricone obsessive, and this is by far one of the best soundtracks he's composed. It's from a sexy little 1970 action flick starring Charles Bronson and his wife Jill Ireland called Citta Violenta. Dreamy and haunting, Morricone brings everything we know and love about his arranging and composing to the table here, building tension while calming nerves. Genius music.

1. Rorschach, "Pavlov's Dog" from Zero Dark Thirty

The biggest WTF moment in cinema last year was hearing this in Katheryn Bigelow's Bin-Laden manhunt movie. A hooded detainee is shown in a scary dungeon while deafening music is blasting... and then bad stuff happens. "Pavlov's Dog" by Rorschach, a song about behavioral conditioning, is a rather inspired choice to play during a torture scene. The seminal New Jersey hardcore band brought a level of dissonance to the usually bland hardcore sound that made them stand out from the rest before breaking up in 1993. They recently reformed and blew minds with a series of shows in the Bay Area. Rad song. Rad movie. Disturbing images.

-- @AskChaki

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