10 Academy Award Winning Songs in Their Scenes
We love movies. We love songs. And when good material come together, what magic it makes.
Do these Academy Award Winning songs make the scene better, or does the movie make the song even more meaningful? In the end, who cares? We’re just glad they came together.
Here are 10 Academy Award winning songs, as they appeared in their respective films.
What a Feeling – Flashdance (1983)
Written by Giorgio Moroder, Keith Forsey, and Irene Cara. Performed by Irene Cara.
♦ Trivia: Giorgio Moroder originally recorded “Flashdance… What a Feeling” with Joe Esposito; Paramount Pictures asked Moroder to rework the song with a female artist to parallel the gender of the dancer who was the film’s protagonist.
I’ve Had the Time of My Life – Dirty Dancing (1987)
Written by Franke Previte, John DeNicola, and Donald Markowitz. Performed by Bill Medly and Jennifer Warnes.
♦ Trivia: During the number, actress Kelly Bishop, who plays the mother, says to her husband, “I think she gets it from me,” pertaining to Jennifer Grey’s character’s dancing. Bishop is a career dancer and was in the original cast of Broadway’s A Chorus Line.
When You Wish upon a Star – Pinocchio (1940)
Written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington. Sung by Cliff Edwards in the character of Jiminy Cricket.
♦ Trivia: “When You Wish Upon a Star” – along with Mickey Mouse – has become an icon of The Walt Disney Company. The ships of the Disney Cruise Line use the first seven notes of the song’s melody as their horn signals.
Over the Rainbow – The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Written by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. Sung by Judy Garland.
♦ Trivia: The song was initially deleted from the film after a preview in San Luis Obispo, because MGM chief executive Louis B. Mayer and producer Mervyn LeRoy thought the song “slowed down the picture” and that “the song sounds like something for Jeanette MacDonald, not for a little girl singing in a barnyard.”
Moon River – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Written by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mancini. Sung by Audrey Hepburn.
♦ Trivia: Mercer and Mancini wrote the song for Audrey Hepburn to fit her vocal range. Initially, the lyrics started, “I’m Holly, like I want to be / like Holly on a tree back home …”; however, they were later changed to fit the theme of the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Fame – Fame (1980)
Written by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford. Sung by Irene Cara.
♦ Trivia: The tune was also the theme song for the Fame television series, which aired from 1982 to 1987. It was performed by Erica Gimpel (who portrayed Coco Hernandez), and later by Loretta Chandler (who portrayed Dusty Tyler).
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. Sung by B. J. Thomas
♦ Trivia: Ray Stevens was first offered the opportunity to record it for the film, but turned it down. He chose instead to record the song “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, written by Kris Kristofferson. Bob Dylan is supposed to have been approached for the song, but he too reportedly declined.
My Heart Will Go On – Titanic (1997)
Written by James Horner, lyrics by Will Jennings. Recorded by Celine Dion. (Dion’s version was used in the credits.)
♦ Trivia: The song was originally supposed to only be used as an instrumental in the movie. Neither James Cameron nor Celine Dion were in favor of creating a lyric version. But in the end, Dion’s husband convinced her to record a demo, and Cameron wanted to appease studio execs who thought a hit song could help the movie.
White Christmas – Holiday Inn (1942)
Written by Irving Berlin. Sung by Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds.
♦ Trivia: Was actually written about two years before Holiday Inn. It almost didn’t make it in the movie, as they thought “Be Careful It’s My Heart” would be the big number.
The Way We Were – The Way We Were (1973)
Written by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman. Sung by Barbra Streisand.
♦ Trivia: A bootleg of the recording sessions exists featuring Streisand with composer Marvin Hamlisch in a recording studio as they perform various takes of the song. One segment reveals Streisand changing the first word of the song from “Daydreams” to “Memories.”