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  • Lauren Nolan

'Best Original Song' Oscars 2024 Nominees Ranked

Still from Barbie (Warner Bros. Pictures)

It’s award season! For movie and music nerds everywhere, many noticed an interesting trend this year. In a unique turn of events, one of the stiffest competitions on the Oscars ballot was ‘Best Original Song’— a category usually less paid attention to. Between Barbie, The Color Purple, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Wonka, and many others, the voting polls within this category were some of the closest it has ever been. Let’s look at the five songs that ended up being nominated and rank them based on which should win, as well as give some predictions for what most likely will.

5. "The Fire Inside" from Flamin' Hot - Diane Warren

While a nomination for the straight-to-streaming Cheetos biopic was a shock to most, the inclusion of Diane Warren made this pick come as no surprise to regular Oscar viewers. (Though it is still bizarre that Flamin Hot' will forever hold the title of 'Academy Award-nominated film.'). The Academy and Warren have a lengthy history together, with fifteen Best Original Song nominations under the artist's belt yet zero wins. Unfortunately for Warren, this streak seems likely to continue, as "The Fire Inside" is not picking up that widespread appeal needed for a chance to win. The track is cute and bouncy, with an energized performance from the always-vibrant Becky G, but ultimately, a bit forgettable with some of Warren's more generic lyrics. It is not a bad pop song, but in a year with such a tight-knit group of entries, "The Fire Inside" does not stand out amongst its competitors. Though for Warren's sake, let's cross our fingers that the eventual sixteenth nomination will break the curse. Come on. It's been long enough. 

4. "It Never Went Away" from American Symphony - Jon Batiste & Dan Wilson

Like so much of his previous work, Jon Batiste's "It Never Went Away" beautifully showcases the artist's multi-faceted musical talent. The piano instrumental is lush, and Batiste's performance is as passionate as ever. However, the track is one of the shorter of the bunch, and it feels like Batiste could have expanded upon it even further. That said, the musician's talent is undeniable, and with being halfway to an EGOT with the O and G already under his belt, if he loses this award, he won't have to fret too much before another one lands his way. 

3. "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" from Killers of the Flower Moon - Scott George

Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon is one of the highest nominated movies of this award season, deservedly so. It is a horrifying story of power, greed, and violence with an unforgettable performance from Lily Gladstone. And one underappreciated aspect of the film is how effective the music is throughout. The score by Robbie Robertson is potent, and "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" is a stunning piece of music. The song, with vocals by Osage Tribal Singers and writings by Osage singer Scott George, is played in the final dance sequence of Killers--the perfect choice to end the film. The Osage Tribal Singers' performance is beautiful, and the lyrics are amongst the most meaningful of the nominees. It is a song that transcends an already powerful story to become that much more impactful. "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" would be a more-than-deserved win.

2. "I'm Just Ken" from Barbie - Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt

In less than half a year, Greta Gerwig's Barbie has already established itself as a cultural juggernaut. Countless quotes, scenes, and characters have already cemented themselves in film history, including Ryan Gosling's performance as Ken. All of Ken's Ken-inspired Ken phrases like "I'm Kenough" and "Kenergy" have ta-ken off in the general public. Still, nothing Gosling did in the film made as much of an impact as "I'm Just Ken," the utterly insane male-ego-driven rock opera that allows the actor to blend his musical theater background with his impeccable comedic delivery. Gosling's ability to deliver lines like "I'm Just Ken and I'm enough / And I'm great at doing stuff" with such conviction makes the song. The track is bombastic, dynamic, funny, and, well, just Ken. Regardless of whether it wins, Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt, Gosing, and Gerwig should all feel proud of how much the song--and movie--affected mainstream audiences. And if "I'm Just Ken" does win, then it would be completely Ken-deserved. (I'm not great with puns, alright). 

1. "What Was I Made For?" from Barbie - Billie Eilish & Finneas O'Connell

That being said, the best song from the Barbie soundtrack is "What Was I Made For?" The track is undoubtedly the current frontrunner, aided by the fact that Eilish just received the "Song of the Year" Grammy for it. Yet it is just not the song most likely going to win, but also the song the most deserving of it. "What Was I Made For?" is the best type of original song for a movie; it elevates the material. The track plays at the most pivotal moment of Barbie, and it is hard to imagine the scene's impact without the ballad backing it. Between Billie Eilish's haunting, airy vocals to the emotionally resonant lyrics written by the two siblings, it is simply a brilliant song all around, and it will be exciting to see if it wins the gold at the ceremony in March.  

Written By Lauren Nolan

*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.


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