Happy Oscar Sunday to those of you who enjoy watching the Academy Awards! It’s not something I watch anymore, but I do like to see who wins after they’re done if I have a favorite actor or movie that was nominated. I’m a big fan of Colin Firth, so I am pulling for him tonight. Having an increased interest in the Best Original Song category, it will also be interesting to see who wins that award this year.
With that said, it’s time for me to finish up my top ten list of favorite Oscar winning songs from the Golden Age of Hollywood. You can check out the first five in this previous post.
Here are my top five favorite songs:
5. Thanks for the Memory (1938) – Featured in the movie The Big Broadcast of 1938, music by Ralph Rainger, lyrics by Leo Robin. Originally performed in the movie by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.
I found the scene in the movie where Bob Hope and Shirley Ross sing this together to be very poignant, and that contributed to my fondness for this song. The song became a signature for Bob Hope, and he sang it many times over the years, adapting the lyrics at different times to fit the situation.
4. Swinging on a Star (1944) – Featured in the movie Going My Way, music by James Van Heusen, lyrics by Johnny Burke. Originally performed in the movie by Bing Crosby who is accompanied by the Robert Mitchell Boys Choir.
Bing Crosby is one of my favorite singers of all time, and his rich voice combined with the beautiful sounds of the boys choir are what make this song one of my favorites. I thought the lyrics were a bit hokey at first, but when I discovered that they were inspired by a quote from one of Bing Crosby’s children, I began to look at them a bit differently.
3. When You Wish Upon a Star (1940) – Featured in the Disney movie Pinocchio, music by Leigh Harline, lyrics by Ned Washington. Originally performed in the movie by Cliff Edwards as the character Jiminy Cricket.
I actually surprised myself by putting this song so high on the list. I never really thought I liked it that much, but after listening to the entire song I was struck by how beautiful and heartwarming it is. It doesn’t hurt that Jiminy Cricket was my favorite character from the movie Pinocchio.
2. Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Qué Será, Será) (1956) – Featured in the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much, music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Originally performed in the movie by Doris Day.
This song ranks high on my list because of my affinity for both Doris Day’s singing and Alfred Hitchcock movies. To truly appreciate this song, I think you need to listen to it in the context of the movie as the scene in which she sings it is a very intense and pivotal scene. In my opinion, the recorded version lacks the depth and emotion that it has in the movie.
1. White Christmas (1942) – Featured in the movie Holiday Inn, music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. Originally performed in the movie by Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds.
While it was difficult to decide where some of the other songs should be placed on my list, there was no doubt in my mind that this song had to be number one. I love Bing Crosby and Christmas music, Holiday Inn is one of my favorite holiday movies, and I think the scene in the movie when he sings this song, with the Christmas tree in front of him and the fireplace going behind him is absolute perfection. I would love to have been sitting in that room listening to him sing!
A Surprise Omission?
There were several more songs that came close to making the list including one whose exclusion I’m guessing will come as a surprise to many of you reading this, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it isn’t a great song and I do think Judy Garland is one of the greatest singers of all time, but for some reason it’s just not a favorite of mine. If this were a “best of” list instead of a list of personal favorites, it definitely would have made the list.
I really enjoyed putting this list together, and I would highly recommend checking out all the winning songs, whether you are a fan of the Academy Awards or just love music in general. I’d love to hear about some of your favorite Oscar winning Best Original songs in the comment section below!